Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Too Much Excitement!

We were expecting a tough and exciting game this evening. But frankly, we could've done with a little less last-second-drama!

Thank goodness for Mystics fans, though, all the nail-biting and breath-holding was worth it as Washington ended the Silver Stars' 3-game home win streak tonight, 84-82, and ended their own 2-game losing skid. This was a tense game that literally came down to the final seconds and the final possession.

The game began as a relatively sloppy affair, with both teams committing 7 turnovers in the first quarter. San Antonio was up 19-15 at the end of that period. But in the second 10 minutes, the Mystics took much better care of the basketball (only a single TO in that quarter) and battled back to take a 39-33 lead into the locker room at halftime.

After the break, the Mystics continued to build on their lead and were up by 12 points with about 3 minutes left in the third. But more turnovers and missed opportunities by Washington allowed San Antonio to trim the lead to 3 points by the end of that period. To make matters worse, Alana Beard was called for her 5th foul with 1.2 seconds left in the quarter. Uh-oh!

Despite Alana's troubles, this Mystics team -- as they've demonstrated several times already this season -- found a way to regroup and stay in the game. In the final period, the Mystics slowly began adding to their lead. But the game was hardly over. Anyone who follows the WNBA knows that Becky Hammon is one of the (if not the) most prolific 4th period scorers in the League. Teams can contain her for 30 minutes, but look out in that final 10! And sure enough, Becky exploded, scoring 11 (of her 18) points in the final period, including a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left in the game that tied the score at 82. Uh-oh!

With 8.4 seconds remaining and in possession of the ball, the Mystics called a time out. While Coach Plank and her players strategized, we bit our nails. When play resumed we held our breath, waiting for the San Antonio announcer to describe the final seconds of regulation. 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 . . . at last, with 1.9 seconds left, Alana Beard shoots and scores! AB played the last 8-1/2 minutes with 5 fouls . . . and was there at the end with the ball in her hands when we needed her most. Of course, the excitement didn't end there. The Silver Stars still had time for one more shot, but fortunately Belinda Snell missed her attempt at a 3, and the Mystics held on for the win. WHEW!!!

The Mystics' backcourt was instrumental in tonight's victory. AB and Lindsey Harding each had 19 points (sharing the team high), while Matee Ajavon and Crystal Langhorne came off the bench and added 15 and 13 points, respectively. As for our starting post players, Nakia Sanford had a somewhat better outing, finishing with 8 points. But Chas continued to struggle, scoring only 1 point in the game, a free throw with 4:34 left in the final period. On a very positive note, though, the Mystics outrebounded San Antonio, despite the Silver Stars' significant height advantage.

We really wish we could have seen this game, particularly the thrilling fourth quarter. It's just not as much fun to listen to an audio broadcast, especially when the announcers are fairly dull. Whatever happened to Frank Hanrahan, who was supposed to be broadcasting for the Mystics? The only audio feed on WNBA Live Access was provided by the San Antonio announcers. We have to give them credit, though, for not being homers.

This was an important road victory for the Mystics, still playing without the injured Marissa Coleman, and it should provide some momentum as the team finishes out the second half of their road trip. Ironically, Washington's next two opponents, the Dream and the Lynx, battled each other tonight in a nationally televised (ESPN2) display of offensive firepower that Minny won, 92-85. The Mystics will definitely need to bring all of their defensive skills to both of these next two games.

But in the meantime, congratulations to the Mystics on tonight's gritty, tough -- and successful -- performance!

Monday, June 29, 2009


The Mystics play the second game of their 4-game road trip at 8 PM tomorrow (Tuesday) in San Antonio. If you were looking forward to seeing this game and you aren't already in the Alamo City, you'd better hop a plane right now, because the Silver Stars are too cheap to participate have elected not to participate in WNBA Live Access this season.

That's right, no webcast tomorrow evening from San Antonio. All you'll see on WNBA Live Access is a blank screen.

However, we've been assured that fans will still be able to listen to the game. If things work as promised, on the WNBA Live Access page you should find a "Play Audio Only" link below the bottom left corner of the blank webcast screen. Click on this, and (hopefully) you'll hear Frank ("woman to woman D") Hanrahan's play-by-play from San Antonio.

As for the game itself, San Antonio is one of only four teams in the league still undefeated at home. So Tuesday's match will be a tough test for the Mystics, who are seeking to end their 2-game losing streak.

Bad luck on the timing, though. Russian citizen Rebekkah Hammonova of the Silver Stars left her San Antonio teammates in the lurch missed two games earlier this month when she returned to Europe to play in a tournament with the Russian National Team. While she was gone, the Silver Stars lost both of their games, but Becky is back in Texas now and so the Mystics will be playing a team at full strength. And that means that in addition to Hammon, they will also face San Antonio's imposing front court, anchored by 6'5" All-Star Ruth Riley and 6'8" Katie Feenstra Mattera. So if the Mystics hope to win one on the road, Washington's own front court starters will need to raise their games a few notches, and our back court shooters will also need to have a very good night. It should be a tough but exciting game.

We'll be watching listening.

* * * * * * * *

Tomorrow's news today: Don't miss Katie Carrera's article in the Washington Post about new PG Lindsey Harding, posted on line this afternoon.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Throwing One Away.

When a team heads out on a 4-game roadtrip, it's important to win the games that are winnable. Unfortunately, the Mystics did not do that in Chicago tonight, losing to the Sky, 63-68. There's no way to sugarcoat this, and we mean no disrespect to Chicago -- but Washington turned in a subpar performance and threw away a winnable game.

Although the Mystics held onto a small lead for most of the game, they were not playing well. They turned the ball over repeatedly (23 times by game's end), meanwhile taking very little advantage of Chicago's 18 turnovers. Once again the Mystics shot terribly from the free throw line (55.6%). And our starting post players, Chas and Nakia, combined for a total of 6 points (no, that's not a typo), while our starting SF, Mo Currie, had all of 9 points on 4 of 12 shooting (and never once got to the line). A whopping total of 15 points from three of the starters is simply not enough to win ballgames. If you wonder how a team (Chicago) can score only 26 points in the entire first half and still be leading going into the break, there's your answer! The truth is, the Sky didn't look particularly sharp tonight, but the Mystics looked even duller.

Alana Beard finished with 14 points, a below average night for her. Kristen Mann made a brief debut as a Mystic, taking and missing a three point shot. Once again, Crystal Langhorne came off the bench to score in double figures, notching 12 points this evening (plus 8 boards). And Lindsey Harding had a breakout game offensively, putting up a team-high 15 points (along with 6 assists and 6 rebounds).

As painful as the game was to watch, the audio feed from the UIC Pavilion was even worse, sounding as though it were coming through tin cans and a string. Then, for good measure, during the entire third period, someone was doing bird calls next to the announcer. Tweet, tweet, chirp, chirp, tweet, chirp. This torture could easily replace water boarding.

Let's hope the Mystics, who are now 4-3 and on a 2-game losing streak, can find a way to re-group in time for their game on Tuesday in San Antonio. It will take a much better effort down in Alamo country than what we saw tonight if Washington is going to reverse direction.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Not Quite

The WNBA's highest scoring team, the Phoenix Mercury, were just a bit too much for the short-handed Mystics tonight, as Washington lost at home for the first time this season, 87-93.

Once again, the Mystics dug themselves an early hole. In fact, at the end of the first period, with the Merc ahead 26-13, it looked as though the game might turn into a blowout. But this is a Mystics team that simply does not give up. So although the home team was still down at the break, 51-42, they fought their way back in the second half, once, twice, three times . . . even taking the lead at one point, by one point. Unfortunately, the fierce effort was not quite enough.

It wasn't just the Mercury's predictably hot shooting that doomed the Mystics. Unfortunately, Washington let this one slip away with too many missed layups (particularly by our two starting post players). And don't get us started on the free throws! The Mystics hit only 17-29 from the line (under 60%), while the Mercury hit nearly 80% (15-19). It doesn't take a CPA to do the math . . . a 6 pt loss and 12 missed FTs! Ouch!

To give credit where credit is due, the Merc's incredibly talented shooters (including Cappie Pondexter, who had a game high 24 points, and Diana Taurasi, who put up 23), all hit shots when needed (especially at the FT line) and helped their team hold on for a narrow victory.

Once again, Alana Beard led the Mystics in scoring (21 points). And once again, Crystal Langhorne (the BasketCases' nominee for Most Improved Player) turned in another strong performance off the bench, posting her second double-double of the season (16 points and 12 boards). Three other players reached double figures, including Lindsey Harding, who played nearly the entire game, and barely missed a double-double of her own --finishing with 12 points and 9 assists. Nakia Sanford and Monique Currie had 13 and 10 points, respectively -- each getting most of her points from the free throw line.

There's no question that this team is really missing Marissa Coleman's offense. (Right now, Alana is the Mystics' only serious 3-point threat.) Still, it was an extremely exciting game, particularly in the second half. Despite the fact that the Mystics didn't come away with the "W," at least the fans saw a team -- even when not executing as they should -- that never quit and never stopped making the effort.

Washington now heads out on a 4-game road trip, the first a rematch with the Sky in Chicago on Saturday night. This trip presents another real challenge to the young Mystics team. Particularly after tonight's loss, winning on the road is a must if they wish to maintain their early-season momentum. The next time we'll see the team at the Phone Booth will be July 11th. Too long! Thank goodness for Live Access.

Mercury Rising to 91 Degrees

That's the predicted high temperature in our nation's capital today. Ironically, 91 is also the scoring average of the Phoenix Mercury (well, 91.4 to be exact), who the Mystics face tonight at Verizon Center (tip-off at 7PM). The Mystics can't do anything about the heat outside, but let's hope they find a way to cool down the Mercury on the court.

Last season, the Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter-led high octane Merc scored 98 points in each of its two victories against the Mystics. But that was then, this is now.

Now the Mystics have a few more weapons, not to mention new Head Coach Julie Plank (the subject of a flattering profile by Mike Fratto in today's Washington Times, here), whose new emphasis on defense will be put to the test this evening. It should be an interesting not-to-be-missed match-up.

* * * * * *

Terps footnote . . . A little more here from Camille Powell of the Washington Post about A++ recruit Laurin Mincy who verbally committed this week to play for Maryland. How many players do you know who had their jerseys retired . . . in Elementary School?!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Do Not Miss Marissa's Latest Blog Post . . . "Adventures of the Young and the Crippled." Here's part of her latest misadventure:

The team was on the road playing Atlanta and no one was around to take the dogs out. I figured I could crutch to the front steps, sit down, let the dogs do their business and come right back inside. Easy enough right?...HA! [Tasha's] KG is a good dog, listens well and never gives me any trouble. Boston, yea, not so much. I am crutching up the steps to bring them inside, I think the wind might have blown, and there goes Boston. She breaks out of her collar and B-Lines to the street. Now, I'm thinking "how in the heck am I going to catch her?"
Did Riss ever get her dog back? Read her full post here on WNBA.com!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Exciting News Out of College Park!

Laurin Mincy, the #2 ranked SG in the nation from the class of 2010, verbally committed today to the University of Maryland.

New Jersey Player-of-the-Year and one of the top players overall in her class, Laurin was highly sought after by many programs, including UConn, Rutgers and South Carolina . . . but she chose Maryland!

We've read so many great things about this young lady (a top student as well as a top athlete!) we wish we didn't have to wait another whole year to see her suit up for the Terps.

Maryland's incoming class of 2010 is beginning to shape up as one of the best in the country. Earlier this year, two other members of the HoopGurlz Top 100 (Alyssa Thomas, a 6'0" Wing and Natasha Cloud, a 6'0" Guard -- both from Pennsylvania) committed to the Terps.

Congratulations to Laurin! And congratulations to Coach Frese for building the kind of program that attracts talented student-athletes like Laurin.

Read more about Laurin here and here and here. And more from Matt Bracken Tuesday morning here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bragging Rights

Tonight's game between the Mystics and the Sky was supposed to be the first time that former Maryland teammates Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver would face off as opponents. Unfortunately, Marissa's injury spoiled those plans. But the nearly 12,000 in attendance (including more than 150 Maryland Rebounders and the entire Maryland coaching staff) were still treated to an incredibly exciting game.

The Mystics took the early lead -- fueled largely by Alana Beard -- but Chicago gradually closed the gap. The teams kept things very close as halftime approached. But then, about a minute and a half before the break, with the score tied at 29, the Sky went on a 10-0 run. It happened so fast, the Mystics (and their fans) looked shocked. Before they knew what had hit them, the Mystics were down by double digits heading into the locker room.

It's nights like these when the coaching staff really earns their paychecks. And did they ever! The Mystics were going to need to play catchup and the players needed to believe they could turn the game around. We don't know what was said in the locker room, but whatever it was, it worked!

The Mystics opened the second half more aggressive offensively and defensively and began steadily whittling away at the Sky's lead. Several players were instrumental in the turnaround. First and foremost was Alana Beard, who battled intensely and led her teammates on both ends of the floor. Alana not only led all scorers with 31 points, but played relentless defense (including 3 steals) . . . just as critical. Chasity Melvin's early baskets in the third quarter, her defensive play, and her rebounding helped ignite the second-half rally. (Chas finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds.) And Matee Ajavon's harassment of the Sky's ball handlers and her own lightning speed down the court also helped to turn the game in the Mystics' favor. Crystal Langhorne turned in another excellent performance (in both halves) coming off the bench, with 14 points (including a near perfect 6 of 7 from the free throw line), 6 rebounds and two steals. Alana led the charge, her teammates followed, and together the Mystics emerged with the win, 81-72.

Kristi Toliver was the other Terp coming off the bench tonight, putting up 13 points for the Sky in 15 minutes of play. The BasketCases were happy to see KT have a good outing, but even happier about the outcome of the game.

4-1! A pretty good start to a season.

Photo credits: DC BasketCases

Friday, June 19, 2009

And Then There Were None

The Mystics' season hit a bump in the road tonight, as Washington was soundly beaten by the Dream in Atlanta, 93-81. This means there are no longer any undefeated teams in the WNBA.

As we watched the game, it seemed clear to us that the Mystics were feeling the effects both of a long layoff and the absence of their #2 leading scorer, Marissa Coleman. Not only that, but the player brought in while Riss recovers from her high ankle sprain, Kristen Mann, also missed tonight's game due to illness. With no small forwards available to back up Mo Currie, Coach Plank was forced to experiment with different combinations . . . and frankly, none was all that effective.

Early on, with the five usual starters on the floor, the Mystics held their own against Atlanta, as the two teams finished the first quarter tied at 20. However, the game went downhill quickly after that. Washington fell behind by 7 at the half, a deficit that ballooned to more than 20 points after the break. But to the Mystics' credit, they didn't quit, and managed to close the gap in the final quarter to a somewhat more respectable 12-point margin by game's end.

Alana Beard led the Mystics with 20 points. Crystal Langhorne had her first double-double of the season, 10 points and 10 rbs. Three other Mystics finished in double figures (Ajavon 13, Currie 10 and Sanford 10). All this scoring wasn't enough, though, as the Dream dominated the Mystics on the glass, 46-31 . . . leading to many easy baskets for Atlanta.

The Mystics fly home tomorrow morning (hopefully with nothing like the 9-hour delay they experienced yesterday on their flight out). And tomorrow evening, they host Kristi Toliver and her Sky teammates at 7 PM at the Phone Booth. Like the Mystics, Chicago will be playing the second half of a back-to-back. The Sky lost in a blowout tonight to the Sun in Connecticut, 91-61. KT, coming off the bench, posted a team-high 14 points in the Sky's losing effort. Obviously, both Washington and Chicago will be looking to bounce back on Saturday from their losses this evening. Of course, only one of them will. Let's hope it's the Mystics who find a way to get back on track.

* * * * *

The Washington Post's Camille Powell, who provided truly excellent coverage of the Terps this past season, has an article in Saturday's paper here about Marissa's and Kristi's transition from college to pro ball.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

So Easy A Fat Panda BasketCase Can Do It!

Are you and your family tired of watching your favorite team's road games huddled around a 14" laptop? If you answered "yes" then have you ever come to the right blog! Would you rather watch tomorrow's (Friday) WNBA.com Live Access webcast of the Mystics game on your very own -- real -- TV? "Yes" again? Then the BasketCases have a deal for you! Simply follow these easy steps . . .

Step 1. Check the video and audio outputs on your computer.

Step 2. Check your TV for available inputs.

Step 3. Figure out what type of inputs you have.

Step 4. Grab your laptop and head over to the nearest Radio Shack!**

Step 5. With the help of one of the in-store techies, select the proper cables for connecting your computer to your TV.

And when making your selection, here's a word of advice: Think gay! Male-Male is the only way to hook-up! Don't accidentally make the mistake the BasketCases did of bringing home a Male-Female cable. No! It won't work. (A Male-Female cable can be useful as an extension if your Male-Male cable is too short, but without the Male-Male, you're out of luck.)

Also remember that you need one cable to connect your video and a second (separate) cable for your audio connection. (If you're using a laptop, the audio cable is typically inserted into the headphone jack on the laptop.)

Step 6. Back at home, turn off your TV and shut down your computer. Then connect the video cable. When connecting it to your TV, see if there's a number ("7" for example) or a name ("HDMI") associated with the input on your TV where you're connecting the cable. (Not essential, but helpful so you can later tune your TV to the correct input.) Then connect your audio cable.

Step 7. Turn on your TV but not your computer. Be sure that on your TV you've selected the proper video input (see Step 6 above and the image below). There will be nothing on your screen at that point (because, if you have been paying attention, your computer should still be shut down!). Now, boot up your computer.

Once your computer has booted up and it's displaying your desktop screen, the computer should send the video and audio signals to your TV. If your TV is not displaying these signals, you may not have selected the right video input on your TV; scroll through your input settings. You'll know it's right when your TV screen looks like your desktop!

Step 7. At 7:30 PM tomorrow (Friday), go to WNBA.com Live Access on your computer. Select the Mystics at Atlanta game. (Don't forget: Right click, Zoom, Full Screen.) Then sit back and enjoy the show! (The quality of the video will depend on the feed from the arena. It won't be like watching a Blu-Ray disc, but it will beat squinting at the little screen on your laptop.)

Go Mystics! Beat the Dream!

**A small note regarding the audio and video connecting cables. Buying them on-line is far cheaper. But if you aren't exactly certain which cables you need, you won't get the help that you'll get at a bricks and mortar store like Radio Shack. Nor the immediate gratification of taking the cables home then and there and hooking them right up to watch the Mystics this weekend.

The DC BasketCases blog is not associated in any way with Radio Shack nor any other vendor of audio or video equipment. However, if Radio Shack would like like to enter into a Marquee partnership with the BasketCases, for the right price, we would promise to wear Radio Shack logo T-shirts whenever we blog.

* * * * * *

Friday morning update . . . Mike Fratto writes about the Mystics in today's Washington Times here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Open Look

Fans were invited to an open practice today of the undefeated, league-leading, No. 1 Power-ranked, revamped, remodeled and re-energized Washington Mystics, and the BasketCases took advantage of the invitation.

What a difference a year makes! The practice conducted by Coach Plank and her assistants was organized, efficient, positive, professional, competitive and exhausting! It's pretty clear to the BasketCases that the growth we've seen in the team in the first 3 games this season is the result of seeds planted on the practice court.

Plenty of half-court and full-court scrimmaging . . . with and without referees.

Though Coach Plank was in charge of the practice as a whole, her assistants -- Vicky Bullett here demonstrating a post move to Nakia -- helped individual players with some one-on-one work.

Near the end of practice, the White team faced off against the Black team in a free throw drill. When Nakia ended the White team's streak of 12 in a row, a grinning Lindsey Harding decided she would get a close-up look at her teammate's form . . . from about 3 inches away. While Mo Currie and Coach Luby looked on, a laughing Kia managed to hit one.

It's not a stretch to say that the BasketCases really liked what they saw in the practice today. Afterwards Coach Plank told us that after so many days of practice, the team can't wait to get back to playing games again. Following practice tomorrow (Thursday), the team flies to Atlanta, and then on Friday night at 7:30 PM they get their wish . . . they play an actual WNBA game vs the Atlanta Dream -- a rematch of the Mystics' home opener. We'll be watching -- and so can you -- on WNBA.com Live Access.

Photo dis-Credit: BasketCase Eileen

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mystics On A Roll . . .

This evening, the Mystics held their annual "Jam Session," part of the VIP/Courtside season ticketholder package. This year's event was bowling night with the team at "300 Shady" located in Outer Mongolia Gaithersburg, Maryland. It's an insane drive out there during D.C. rush hour, but it was well worth it to spend a couple of relaxed, fun hours with the players, coaches and all the great front office staff. If you think WNBA players are competitive on the basketball court, you should see some of them at the bowling alley!

Crystal Langhorne arrived -- as did all the Mystics -- by chartered bus.

First order of business -- bowling shoes! These lanes being located in Maryland, all the bowlers were outfitted in a flattering combination of red & black.

Nikki Blue showing off her form, hitting the spare. Blue multi-tasked tonight, playing on two different lanes at opposite ends of the building.

No, that wasn't Alana's score . . . at least we don't think so!

Newly re-signed Kristen Mann, Lindsey Harding, and Tasha Humphrey. Our group "borrowed" Tasha for one frame when one of our regulars pulled a disappearing act. Tasha rolled a strike!

Mo Currie was happy with that shot, but her bouncing-style of ball-release earned a less-than-favorable review from teammate Crystal Langhorne.

Lindsey explaining how the pins were "this far apart."

As the evening wore on, some of the players thought that a little dancing would liven up the event. It did.

At the conclusion of the evening, autographed bowling pins were awarded to the 5 highest scoring fans. "Supe," who arrived with his own bowling ball and shoes (a ringer!), was the top scorer, with a whopping 201. Wow . . . way to go, Supe!

* * * * * * * *

Update: Marissa Coleman, to no one's surprise, was not at the bowling alley tonight. She was at home, dutifully following her rehab instructions. More about her injury here and here.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Temporarily Out of Service.

The Mystics announced today that Marissa Coleman has suffered a high ankle sprain and is expected to be out for the next 4 to 6 weeks.

Meanwhile, SF Kristen Mann will step in for Marissa. Kristen, who played with the team for most of training camp, was signed today by GM Angela Taylor.

In order to make room for Kristen, the Mystics were forced to waive rookie post player Josephine Owino.

Obviously Marissa's injury is a very disappointing development for Riss, for the Mystics and for the fans. But despite Marissa's being temporarily out of service, the BasketCases remain hopeful for the team's prospects. Fortunately, this year's Mystics are more of an ensemble cast than a single-star show. We know it's a cliche, but this is an opportunity for the rest of her teammates to "step up" while Marissa is healing. We're pretty confident that if any group of players is capable of doing just that, the members of this team are.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Out of His Shell"

The BasketCases are old schoolers when it comes to newspapers. Though we love that newspapers are now available on the Internet, we're still fans of the traditional print editions. Why? Because we know from personal experience that we'd miss important or interesting things if we limited ourselves exclusively to scrolling through the paper on line. We love lazy Sunday mornings when we can take our time flipping through the print edition of the Washington Post, stopping to read anything and everything that grabs our attention.

Take today, for instance. We are quite certain that if the Washington Post had not been delivered to our doorstep, we would have missed a very critical feature in today's Magazine Section -- Date Lab!

If you aren't familiar with the Magazine's weekly "Date Lab," it's the Post setting up a couple of willing singles (yes, people actually agree to this!) on a blind date. The Post arranges the date (usually dinner at a restaurant), gives the intrepid couple a digital camera, and then runs a story about the date in the Magazine Section. The feature contains a photo or two taken on the date along with each dater's comments about the other and their rating of the date on a scale from 1-5 (1 being worst, 5 being best). As you might imagine, the potential for embarrassment among one's friends, family, and co-workers is very great (particularly if your job involves working around young women and colleagues who can be relentless in their teasing).

So imagine our surprise this morning to see Rhet "eye candy" Wierzba in this week's Date Lab -- yes, Rhet, the Terps' very own Director of Basketball Operations! Who would've guessed . . . Rhet on a blind date? Obviously, it took some courage (and a sense of humor which we already know he has) to agree to this. (Or perhaps he lost a game of H-O-R-S-E with Coach B.)

In any event, the Post sent Rhet off on a blind date with a 26-year-old woman named Kelly who works at a PR firm. According to Kelly, one of her favorite films is "A Few Good Men." We'd have thought Rhet would qualify on that score. While Kelly rated the date a "4" and said Rhet had "very good manners" (something else we already knew about him), she also added, "I think it would be neat to get him out of his shell a little more." His shell? Pun intended? Good one there, Kelly!

The BasketCases really like Rhet, so we're sorry he did not find "Ms. Right" on his date. (He only gave the date a "3.") Who might that Ms. Right be? Well, we think there's a good clue here in Rhet's reaction to Kelly: "She's more into the party lifestyle of going out at night . . . I would rather hang out and do nothing or do puzzles, board games, those kind of things."

Please, ladies, there must be someone out there who loves a good game of Scrabble or Sudoku . . . and of course loves basketball! This is Rhet we're talking about. It Boggles our minds (pun intended) that an A-lister like Rhet is still "available." An opportunity like this doesn't come along every day. What are you waiting for?

If you'd like a chance to score higher than a "3" with Rhet, please send a picture (fully clothed) and some information about yourself to dcbasketcases(at)msn(dot)com. If we think you could possibly be Ms. Right, we'll see if we can fix you up.

Photo Credit: University of Maryland

Saturday, June 13, 2009

If You Don't Play . . . You Can't Win Lose

That's good advice, particularly if you're hanging out at the Mohegan Sun Casino. Yesterday morning, there were three undefeated teams left in the WNBA; this morning (Saturday) there's only one . . . our very own Washington Mystics!

Last night, the other two previously undefeated teams each picked up their first "L" of the young season. The Minnesota Lynx lost to the Seattle Storm, 88-71, and the Phoenix Locks were picked by the Sacramento Monarchs, 90-71. Which leaves the Mystics all alone on the list of undefeateds. (And the BasketCases are feeling so confident about our re-tooled Mystics team that we'd bet the house the Mystics will hold onto that honor at least until Friday!)

As for last night's games, one former Terp helped her team earn a "W" and in the process knock off one of those two formerly undefeated teams. Laura Harper, who started at Center for Sacramento, finished with 12 points and 8 boards in the victory over Phoenix. In another game yesterday -- not involving any undefeated teams -- we had the pleasure of watching (on NBA TV) another former Terp, Kristi Toliver, and her teammates on the Chicago Sky, defeat Atlanta, 81-73, in Chicago's home opener.

Meanwhile, back in the DMV . . .

The idle Mystics were busy going to the dogs. At least a couple of the Doggie-Mamas were! While other teams were playing, Marissa Coleman and Tasha Humphrey used their off day to attend to some needed dog grooming. It was bath day for Riss's Jack Russell terrier, Boston (top photo) and Tasha's pup KG (bottom, and in the bottom right corner of Boston's photo . . . please, me next, me next!). As Riss reported on Twitter, neither pooch particularly enjoyed the experience. "Boston hate[d] it!" Being former Doggie-Mamas ourselves, we suspect both pooches were wishing their Mamas had been off on a road trip yesterday.

Also from Twitter, we learn that the new-look Mystics may indeed be sporting a new look next time we see them. Apparently not everyone spent their off day grooming their dogs. Some players apparently spent time on a certain people-grooming activity. AB tweeted yesterday that "Moms taking out the braids" and later, ". . . got the bush going on!" And this morning Mo Currie reports tweets, she "think[s] the Mystics have moved into first place for most weaves on a team!"

We know what you're thinking . . .only 3 days since the Mystics' last game and the BasketCases are already reduced to blogging about doggie baths and hair-weaves? Pretty pathetic, huh? We agree. But what else do we have to write about (and still 5 more days before the Mystics play another game!)? That question was rhetorical, but we'll answer it anyway: if there's anything worth sharing . . . you (our loyal readers) will be the first to know.

Oh, there is something! Mike Fratto of the Washington Times just this week launched a new Mystics blog. It's called "Post-Up" and you can find the link here.

After that bit of real news, the BasketCases need to sign off . . . we're already running late for our weave appointments.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases (Krazy Kop slots); Marissa Coleman (Boston and KG, via TwitPic)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

3-0! Still Undefeated!

Did you see that? We did! Live Access actually worked, so we got to see the webcast of the Mystics' exciting 75-69 road win over the defending WNBA Champions, the Detroit Shock.

We know it's a cliche to say that basketball is a game of runs, but tonight's game really showed why it's true. As they did on Sunday, the Mystics had real trouble finishing their shots in the first quarter and fell behind, 13-21, after the first 10 minutes. But just as they did against Atlanta, DC came roaring back in the second period, going on an 18-2 run that helped send them into the locker room leading at the half, 38-27. The Shock opened the third period with a 10-2 run of their own, but the Mystics pressed on, ending the period with a 7-0 run and holding on to a slim 56-51 lead.

To say the final quarter was a nail-biter is an understatement. The Shock would close up the gap. The Mystics would respond. The Shock would inch closer. And then an electrical storm overhead would cause us to lose our internet connection! Arrgh! Every possession counts and we're staring at a black screen. But all's well that ends well and we were back on line in time to see the clock run out with the young Mystics' underdogs (woof! woof!) still ahead of the 2008 WNBA champions. It's been 4 years since the Mystics beat the Shock at the Palace. Tonight's win was a long time coming. And very exciting. And very satisfying.

The Mystics beat the Shock with a well-balanced offensive attack. Four players scored in double figures, three of them off the bench! Wait, "bench" is not the right word here. In these first 3 games, Coach Plank has relied on a 9-deep rotation. "Bench" suggests that 4 of these players are reserves, there to spell the "starters." But that doesn't describe this team at all. What the Mystics have shown so far this season isn't a starter-bench scenario, but more a 2-wave attack. There's no drop-off when the 2nd wave hits the floor. Tonight, as on Sunday, the 2nd wave was responsible for turning an early deficit into a half-time lead. So while it was no surprise that 1st-waver Alana Beard notched a game-high 15 points, the other 3 Mystics players in double figures all came from the "2nd wave." Crystal Langhorne, Marissa Coleman, and Matee Ajavon added 14, 13, and 12 points, respectively.

Lang’s points included some nice jump shots outside the paint, and she added to tonight’s excitement with an enormously important late-game steal, leaping high in the air to intercept a three-quarter-court pass which would almost certainly have ended in a Shock basket. As long-time Lang-fans, it was particularly nice hearing the Detroit announcers talk about how much Crystal has improved her play this season. As for Marissa, the announcer said she came into tonight's game as the WNBA's leading 3-pt shooter, and she added 2 more from behind the arc against the Shock. And Matee's defensive performance, which included 3 steals -- plus her 12 points -- was really critical to the Mystics' victory.

While it's true that Detroit is missing two stars to injuries and one to the criminal WNBA justice system, the same Shock team slapped a 29-point loss on the LA Sparks just two days ago. With tonight’s win, the Mystics remain undefeated at 3-0, having now beaten three of the six other teams in the Eastern Conference, and sit all alone on top of the Conference standings.

Congratulations again to Coach Plank, her staff and especially to the Mystics players! 3-0, way to go!

Live from Detroit . . . It's Wednesday Nite! At 7:30 PM this evening, the Mystics face the defending WNBA champions, the Detroit Shock, on the road at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Tonight's game provides the young Mystics an excellent opportunity to measure themselves against the very best (on Monday, the Shock demolished the LA Sparks by 29 points!).

This challenge couldn't come at a better time. With more than a week's break before the Mystics face their next opponent (@ ATL on 6/19), the "data" gleaned from tonight's game (as well as that already downloaded from the Mystics' two earlier outings) should help Coach Plank and her staff (including newly promoted Assistant Coach, and now also Manager of Basketball Operations, Vicky Bullett) use the upcoming practice time to their maximum advantage. They won't have another opportunity for practice like this the entire rest of the season.

Tonight's game is being shown on WNBA.com's Live Access. And yes, the BasketCases are fully aware that there were some "technical difficulties" with the Live Access broadcasts during opening weekend. In fact, the problems were so widespread that the WNBA issued an apology this week for the "issues" some fans experienced. We're hopeful that they've worked out the bugs and that we'll be able to see tonight's contest live from Detroit.

BTW, for those of you who (like the BasketCases) are slightly technology-challenged, here's a tip: the WNBA Live Access screen does not display a full-screen icon, but if you right-click on the screen, then click on "zoom" and then click on "full-screen" . . . voilà! A full-size screen pops up!

Wednesday Morning Reading . . . Mike Fratto in the Washington Times writes about the Mystics' "smooth transition" (link here) and Katie Carrera in the Washington Post previews tonight's "early test" (link here). And, whatever you do, don't miss the latest blog post over on WNBA.com (link here) by "rhythmically challenged" rookie Marissa Coleman.

and Viewing . . . check out Mystics TV's new pregame feature with Christy Winters Scott and Frank Hanrahan (link here).

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Some News Out of College Park . . . The University of Maryland announced yesterday the hiring of a new Assistant Women's Basketball Coach. Marlin Chinn, former top assistant and recruiting coordinator at the Big East's Seton Hall, will be joining Coach B's staff. Coach Chinn not only brings strong experience to his new job, but he also has strong ties to the local DMV community. Welcome aboard and welcome home, Coach C!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

We're Still Here . . . and Glad We Are!

Game day began early for the remaining 324 season ticket holders who signed up in 1998, have renewed ever since (motto: "we're still here"), and thus survived all 11 previous seasons of the good, the bad and the ugly. We were treated to a private reception followed by the unveiling of a permanent tribute to the Mystics' "Founding Fans" -- complete with all of our names -- on the Main Concourse (across from Guest Services). The BasketCases and all the other Founding Fans we spoke with felt truly honored by the team's acknowledgement of our loyalty. What a great way to start an exciting home opener! Many thanks to COO Greg Bibb for making this happen.

Lest old acquaintances -- and old teammates -- be forgot . . . new Mystics Asst Coach Vicky Bullett and new Atlanta star Chamique Holdsclaw share a hug.

An elaborate home-opener introduction . . . complete with silhouette screen, runway with flashing lights, smoke and music special effects. Some pre-game excitement for what turned out to be a very exciting -- and fun -- afternoon.

If you are reading this post, you were likely at the game or watched the web cast, so you already know that Atlanta raced out to a big lead (22-8), but the Mystics battled right back -- pushing tempo, diving for every loose ball, dialing up the defensive intensity (17 steals today! ) -- and took a lead heading into the locker room at the half which they never relinquished, winning 77-71. Two games do not a season make, not by a long shot, but the re-made Mystics are so vastly different from last season's team it's astonishing. They are competitive, they hustle, they are playing a true "up tempo" game as Coach Plank promised. In short, they are fun to watch. In fact, we had more fun today than we did all of last season.

Chemistry 101 . . . Grade A+. Whether on the court or on the bench, all 11 players stayed very much in the action. It's clear they enjoy playing together and supporting each other.

The Architect-in-Chief of the remodeled Mystics (and writer), GM Angela Taylor (L).

Rookie Head Coach Julie Plank (still undefeated in WNBA regular season play!) and her veteran star, Alana Beard, who put on an explosive perfomance today and led all scorers with 27 points (plus 5 steals and 5 rbs)!

The fans weren't the only ones who left the arena happy. As the fans applauded, Tasha Humphrey and her teammates smiled, waved and applauded right back. We love this team!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Home Opener! Not that anyone could possibly forget -- it's been circled on our calendar for quite some time -- but the Mystics' home opener is today at 4 PM.

After winning on the road yesterday in Connecticut, the Mystics will be the Phone Booth, playing their first back-to-back of the season -- today's opponent, the Atlanta Dream. The Dream also played yesterday, beating the Indiana Fever last night in a double OT thriller, 87-86.

Like the Mystics, Atlanta (which finished with the worst record in the WNBA last season) has undergone a major off-season overhaul. The Dream bring a number of familiar faces back to the Verizon Center, including former Mystics Assistant Coach Marynell Meadors, now the Dream's GM and Head Coach, and several former DC players: Chamique Holdsclaw, making her return to the WNBA after a two-year absence, Nikki Teasley, and Coco Miller. They also added 6'5" Michelle Snow through free agency and young (and talented) 6'4" Forward Sancho Lyttle from the Comets dispersal draft, as well as the overall number one pick in the college draft, Angel McCoughtry. It'll be great to see some of our Mystics alumnae, but today, of course, the team in white will be gettin' all of our love! This new-and-improved Atlanta team should provide a tough test for the home team.

Required Reading . . . A couple of "don't miss" articles in today's papers: Mike Fratto of the Washington Times has an interesting piece about all the ACC players on the re-made Mystics, how well they are getting along, and the fact that it's "no coincidence" that they are all here, since new GM Angela Taylor "prefers players from winning college programs as she attempts to establish a championship mentality on Washington's roster." And Angela herself, a native of Mountain Home, Idaho, is the subject of a very flattering profile in today's Idaho Statesman.

See everyone at 4 PM! Go Mystics!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

Today at the Mohegan Sun Arena, the Mystics gave Julie Plank the best gift that any team can give a first-time head coach -- a big old "W."

The Mystics made themselves, their rookie head coach -- and their fans -- very happy by winning their regular season opener on the road against the Connecticut Sun, 82-70. Though Connecticut scored the first 2 points of the game, that was the Sun's only lead, as the Mystics then went on a 17-0 run and never trailed again. The Mystics took a 12-point lead into the locker room at halftime, 40-28. The Sun regrouped in the third quarter, closing the gap to single digits, but unlike Mystics teams of old, they didn't fold, and the Mystics put the game away in the final period. One regular season game; one win. Congratulations to the team, to Coach Plank . . . and let's not forget another rookie who had a lot to do with this being a happy day, GM Angela Taylor!

And while we're on the subject of rookies . . . Wow, what a debut by rookie Marissa Coleman! Coming off the bench, Riss helped spark that big early run by hitting her first three (regular season) shots as a pro -- all from behind the 3 point line! She finished with a team-high 16 points, ending the day 4 of 4 from beyond the arc. Even if we weren't already fans of Marissa, we'd have to say she had a pretty sensational first game . . . for a rookie.

One thing that really jumps out at us from today's boxscore is how this was a team win, not a solo performance. The ACC -- and others -- really rocked today. Mo Currie had 14 points; Lindsey Harding, in her first game with the Mystics, had 12 (plus 7 assists!); and Nakia Sanford, who was perfect from the floor (5 of 5) finished with 11. All in all, a very exciting and promising start for the new Mystics. We can't wait to see them in person tomorrow!

And, with their home opener against Atlanta less than 24 hours away, the Mystics are taking a bus back to DC as we write this. We hope they have some good champagne chillin' on board to celebrate Coach Plank's first win. We're going to go pop some ourselves. Congratulations again to Coach Plank and to the entire Mystics team!

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The one less-than-happy thing about today's game was that many Mystics fans were reduced to watching boxscore updates. We knew the WNBA was not allowing Live Access, but the audio feed also turned out to be unavailable. Very disappointing. But we've been told the webcast of the game will be available later today -- how much later, we don't know -- on WNBA.com.


It's finally here: WNBA Opening Day, 2009! The day we get our first real look at the re-made Mystics. Unfortunately, it's going to take a little longer than expected to get that look.

If, like the BasketCases, you'd planned on watching the Mystics' season opener against the Connecticut Sun live today at 4 PM from Mohegan via the WNBA's much-hyped web "Live Access," well, you can forget about it. An email from the Mystics yesterday informed us that the game "will not be shown live due to the national broadcast of the Detroit Shock at Los Angeles Sparks game, live on ABC, beginning at 2:30pm EDT."

So even though the Mystics/Sun game will probably only overlap with the Shock/Farmers game for maybe a half hour, no WNBA Live Access for Mystics fans! Instead we'll be treated to WNBA Resuscitated Access -- a web archive of the game later in the day, available at some undisclosed time.

Fortunately, you can still follow the game live by listening to Frank "voice of the Mystics" Hanrahan's audio broadcast of the game via WNBA.com. Better than no live report, but the BasketCases prefer watching their live sports live. (Speaking of live: Terps fans can catch KT's regular season WNBA debut live on NBA TV tonight at 8 PM. Kristi and her Chicago Sky teammates are playing the Lynx on the road in Minneapolis.)

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Yesterday was the day for teams to trim their rosters to the required regular-season 11. It was a day full of hard choices for GMs all around the league. Bernice Mosby was the last player waived by the Mystics. GM Angela Taylor opted to keep rookie Josephine Owino, a 6'3" Center from Union University in Tennessee. Owino, whose hometown is Mombasa, Kenya, is the 2-time NAIA player of the year, and helped lead her college team to 3 NAIA National Championships, including during her senior 2008-09 season.

We haven't yet had the pleasure of seeing Jo play, but we did have the pleasure of meeting her at the open house. A very nice young lady . . . and physique-wise she reminds us of Cheryl Ford. We won't be surprised if Jo doesn't get much playing time this season; she may be more of a developmental player. However, we assume that GM Taylor sees Jo as a diamond in the rough, otherwise why would you keep a third-round draft pick (the only 3rd-rounder to make a team in the WNBA this season!) over a returning player? We're looking forward to seeing Jo develop as a pro. [But we do hope that, by now, someone has told her that she's in Washington, D.C. and not Indiana.]

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Mike Fratto in the Times and Katie Carrera in the Post both have opening day articles, here and here. They are a bit similar in their obvious it's a "new day" for the Mystics theme. The print edition of the Washington Post also includes nice pictures and snapshots of each player.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Come On In, Our Door's Open!

Sheila Johnson (Owner, President and #1 fan!), COO Greg Bibb, GM Angela Taylor, Head Coach Julie Plank and her coaching staff, all the ticket reps and the rest of the office staff . . . and the players hosted an open house this evening for season ticketholders in the Mystics' offices at the Verizon Center. Everyone was on hand and accessible, from Dr. J on down. We were free to wander through the offices, enjoy good food and drink, and best of all, of course, chat with the players and staff. The BasketCases have been to most of the Mystics' fan events over the years, and we have to say that this was one of the most enjoyable. It was informal, fun, and friendly, and the excitement about the new season was palpable.

New Assistant Coach Vicky Bullett and two of her charges

New starting PG Lindsey Harding

Chas, Nikki Blue and B-Mo

AB and Mo enjoyed the team videos playing in the reception area

Kia, back from Russia with plenty of tales to tell

Another new Mystic, Matee Ajavon, with fans

Today was this young man's 5th Birthday, and B-Mo channeled Marilyn Monroe to sing Happy Birthday to him as Tasha Humphrey looked on. It was one of those "you had to be there" priceless moments.

Coach Luby spent the entire time working (someone has to get ready for that back to back coming up this weekend). We hope they brought food in for him!

Vicky and Coach Lacey were hard at work as well, but did emerge for some photos.

If you work for the Mystics, you get to have a desk that looks like this.

The Mystics have a practice tomorrow morning, then they travel to the Casino where they will open the 2009 season with a game against the Connecticut Sun at 4PM on Saturday. You can catch all the action live on WNBA web access.

Go Mystics!

Photo Credits: DCBasketCases