Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tournament Play

Tonight was the first game of the WNIT where we really felt that special tournament atmosphere. A good crowd on hand. Lots of excitement. A worthy opponent, Providence College from the Big East Conference . . . who traveled to Comcast with mascot, cheerleaders, dance team and a small, but vocal, cadre of fans.

In tournament play, the winner advances and the loser goes home (or, if they are already playing at home, their season simply ends). Unfortunately, the Terps' season simply ended tonight, as they lost to the Friars, 77-64.

Hopefully, the young Maryland team will take away a lesson from this evening's game: in tournament play, the team that executes, the team that values the basketball, the team that limits its own mistakes, is the team that wins more often than not. That team tonight was the Friars. They made shots when they needed to. They held onto the ball. They hit their free throws. They executed. The Terps, on the other hand . . . well, let's just say, they didn't. Those of us who were there know how bad it was. The better team, Providence, won. And we congratulate the Friars on their well-earned victory as they advance to the WNIT's round of 8.

For every Maryland player on the floor, barring one, this can -- and should -- be a learning experience. Every player, barring one, will be back next season. A game like tonight's might just make them work a little harder in the off-season. Might just make them feel they've got some unfinished business . . . like getting a date for the Big Dance, and taking a few spins around the dance floor. We hope some good will come out of it.

But for one player, tonight marks not just the end of her season, but also the end of her college basketball career. Of course, we're talking about Lori Bjork. We feel really bad that Lori's run ended with such a poor team performance. But that's the way it is sometimes. In any event, the BasketCases are so very happy that Lori choose to transfer to Maryland (after earning her undergraduate degree at Illinois). Though she's only played this one season, she's been a strong contributor to the Terps. What a great team player! What a bright, hard-working, personable young woman! As Terps fans, we haven't known Lori long . . . but that doesn't mean we won't miss her. Thank you, and good luck, Lori, and Emery, we wish you all the best in whatever comes next in your lives.

So that's it, Terps fans. Another Maryland season in the books. It'll be a long wait until next season kicks off (with several new faces). In the meantime, thank goodness for the Mystics. See you all soon at the Verizon Center!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Update: In the WNIT's Round 3 on Thursday, the Terps will be playing the Providence College Friars from the Big East Conference, who beat Old Dominion this evening, 76-61, in their second round match-up.

Go Maryland! Beat Providence!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Half Enough

Typically, a team needs the better part of two good halves of basketball to come away with a win. This afternoon, however, in the first half (playing their normal rotation of starters and reserves), the Terps managed to score more points (53) than the East Carolina Lady Pirates managed to score in the entire game (52). Which should give you some indication that this WNIT second round matchup at Comcast was a lopsided affair from start to finish: halftime score, 53-31, and final score, Terps win, 87-52.

A big reason for the Terps' first-half production was the fact that Kim Rodgers picked up today exactly where she left off on Friday night. Kim nailed another five threes, and finished with a career-high 17 points. That impressive output, however, was topped by Lori Bjork, who led all scorers with 20 (despite the fact she only hit four threes). Lynetta Kizer also ended up in double figures, with 16.

Every Terp played, and every Terp scored. And speaking of career highs, rookie Tianna Hawkins had one today with 5 blocks, plus -- in only 18 minutes of playing time (due to some early foul trouble) -- she grabbed 10 rebounds. By game's end, Ti's shirt was hanging out, her hair was askew . . . she may have had a short day, but she worked extra hard during every one of those 18 minutes. And another rookie, Dara Taylor, also recorded a career high . . . sneaking in among the tall trees to come away with 8 rebounds.

Given the glorious summer-like weather and the fact that the Gentlemen Terps had a 2:30PM start in their NCAA game today, it was no surprise that the women's game was sparsely attended. But for those of us die-hards who showed up, it was good fun. And it was certainly great experience for the young Terps, who now advance to the WNIT's Round of 16, with a game against the winner of tomorrow night's meeting between Old Dominion and Providence College. (The Terps' game will be at 7PM on Thursday, at Comcast.)

Go Terps! Beat Whoever!

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And another word about that other tournament . . . How about those Dayton Flyers?!!! Playing in their first-ever NCAA tournament, the Flyers posted an exciting come-from-behind, last-second win over TCU yesterday, 67-66, and now move on to play the Lady Vols. We loved Dayton Head Coach Jim Jabir's response to Doris Burke's question yesterday, about how the Flyers planned to handle Tennessee on the Lady Vols' home court in Knoxville: "We'll do what we can," said Jabir, with a big smile. Great answer! Go Flyers!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


This just in: Maryland's second round WNIT game against East Carolina on Sunday at Comcast will be played at NOON.

Friday, March 19, 2010

KNIT One . . . Round Two!

"Survive and advance." That's the old cliché about tournament basketball. Well, the Terps did far more than simply survive the first round of the WNIT tonight, they dominated the Iona Gaels, posting a convincing win, 88-53.

In the opening minutes, Iona hung with the Terps, thanks to some excellent shooting by the Gaels from beyond the arc (6 of 12 in the first half). Plus, in the early going, it looked like the Terps were busy trying to shake off a little "rust" . . . they hadn't played in nearly two weeks. But once the Terps found their rhythm about midway through the first half, they just kept going and going and going . . . extending the lead to nearly 40 points. If Coach B hadn't gone to the end of her bench early, Maryland would easily have reached triple figures. So every Maryland player got plenty of minutes. And they all seemed to enjoy this little break from the intensity of ACC competition.

Though it was the Gaels who started hot from long-range, it was the Terps who finished with 13 three-pointers . . . a season high! Kim Rodgers nailed 5 of 6 treys to share team-high scoring honors with 15 points. Tianna Hawkins also put up 15 points, the old fashioned way (1 or 2 points at a time), and pulled down 10 rebounds for yet another double-double in her young career. Three other Terps also hit double figures -- Lori Bjork (12), Jackie Nared (11), and Anjale Barrett (10).

From the fans' perspective, it's true this game wasn't particularly competitive, but when it comes to tournament play, it's all about advancing . . . and tonight the Terps did just that -- easily --and there's no question, it was fun to watch.

Thanks to the tonight's win, Maryland advances to the second round of the WNIT, and will host the East Carolina Lady Pirates (who defeated Drexel tonight in OT) on Sunday (at a time still to be determined). Although the Terps have played plenty of Carolina teams over the years, apparently they missed one, as the Terps and the Lady Pirates have never played each other. On Sunday, that will change.

Go Terps! Beat the Pirates!

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And now a few words about that other tournament, the NCAA: Go Princeton Tigers! Go Dayton Flyers!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Holding Serve

Terp fans, don't forget that Maryland faces Iona tomorrow (Friday) at 7 PM at Comcast in the First Round of the 2010 WNIT. If you don't already have your tickets, here's the link. (Of course, you can also buy tickets at the Comcast box office tomorrow.) In any event, let's show up and give our young Terps the support they deserve to help them advance in the Tournament.

By the way, the first round of the WNIT kicked off last night (Wednesday) with seven games, all won by the teams playing on their home court (including an OT win by Cal over UC Davis). More first round games are on tap for tonight.

The other two ACC teams (besides Maryland) in this year's tournament are both playing this evening: Wake Forest hosts North Carolina A&T, and Miami hosts Florida Gulf Coast University. (In case you're wondering why Boston College isn't in the tournament, well, you can read the depressing story all about it here.)

Go Terps! Beat Iona!

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Thursday night update . . . Only one of the ACC teams playing tonight made it through to the second round, as Wake Forest (playing at home) was trounced by North Carolina A&T, 49-73, while Miami beat Florida Gulf Coast University, 70-57. Miami will next face Florida on Sunday at 2PM in another Sunshine State battle.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Newest Mystic

As you already know, yesterday was a BIG day in Mystics-land. We promised a report and more photos, so here they are . . .

The day began, as everyone knows, with the much-anticipated press conference. As fans and members of the media filed in, we were greeted by an empty table with an unmarked chair for the "mystery" signee. A few people behind us were wondering out loud whether the mystery woman might be Sheryl Swoopes. (Apparently, they haven't been reading our blog!)

When Katie Smith entered the room, the place exploded in cheers. Here she was, a genuine superstar, signing with the Mystics. Wow! After all these years. We've said it before, and we'll say it again -- this is a big deal. So big a deal that Mystics co-owners Sheila Johnson and Ted Leonsis were on hand to help welcome Katie. (WNBA President Donna Orender was not.)

COO Greg Bibb, GM Angela Taylor, and Head Coach Julie Plank introduced Katie and spoke about her illustrious career and what she will bring to the Mystics. Angela said that every team in the league had tried to sign Katie. We don't doubt that for a second. When it was Katie's turn to speak, she explained what drew her to D.C. (the coaches, the owners, the players and the fans). Then she talked about her approach to basketball. It's pretty simple: "I hate to lose," she said. Gotta love that! No nonsense, no drama, a great work ethic, just get the job done. No wonder Coach Plank, a fellow Buckeye, has been recruiting Katie since Katie was in high school. We're glad her persistence has finally paid off.

After the formal press conference, Katie made the rounds of the media for one-on-one interviews, including a stand-up with Christy Winters Scott for Mystics TV. Katie also spoke with fans and signed autographs. The press conference was streamed live, on-line, but it was wonderful that fans (including one of the BCs) got to experience -- in person -- this important event in franchise history.

Then, in the evening, the Mystics hosted a "meet and greet" at Bar Louie (near the Verizon Center) so that season ticketholders could meet Katie. So many fans accepted the Mystics' invitation that the place was packed. Like the press conference, the event began with formal introductions and remarks. That was followed by a buffet dinner (emphasizing healthy eating, of course: nachos, sliders, hot wings, brownies . . . and celery!) and an opportunity for fans to "meet and greet" Katie, as well as mingle and talk with Dr. J, Greg, Angela, Julie and the wonderful and always friendly members of the front office staff. As an added bonus, two of Katie's new teammates -- Alana Beard and Marissa Coleman -- were in town and attended the press conference and welcoming party. (Alana looked great, by the way, in a Terrapin Buckeye red patterned sweater.)

When all was said and done, what impressed us the most about the newest Mystic was how she interacted with us, the fans. After two events, all the build-up, speechifying and press interviews, Katie Smith spent the better part of an hour methodically moving from table to table -- alone -- greeting every fan, posing for pictures, signing autographs, chatting. Her attention to the fans didn't seem phony and it wasn't perfunctory. After she'd talked about the great fans in D.C., you just got the feeling that she was sincerely interested in meeting the people who had shown up to welcome her to her new team. True to her reputation, very classy!

And now that we've met her and heard Katie speak, all that's left is to see her on the court, wearing Mystics Number 30. We can't wait!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ms. Smith Goes to Washington!

It's official!

The BasketCases are on the scene here at the Mystics' press conference in the Verizon Center, where the team has just announced what has been rumored for a very long time: the signing of free agent Katie Smith, formerly of the Detroit Shock.

In their announcement on March 3 of today's press conference, the Mystics described the then-unnamed free agent as "one of the most prestigious additions in Mystics history." And now that the mystery player has been revealed, we can safely concur with that description. Simply put, Katie -- a WNBA superstar and three-time Olympic Gold Medalist -- is one of the best players to ever set foot on the court. And while Katie may be closer to the end of her illustrious career than to the beginning, she is still a competitor, a consummate professional, and a W-I-N-N-E-R, and she will bring much-needed veteran leadership to the Mystics.

Katie is also the first "big" free agent signing in Mystics franchise history, and we hope this is a turning point in the team's ability to attract top talent who have options to play elsewhere.

Please check back with us later for a report from this evening's "meet and greet" (and perhaps some tidbits and photos from the press conference as well).

In the meantime, welcome, Katie!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Monday, March 15, 2010

More to Come!

Good news for the Terps -- and their fans: the 2009-10 season is not over yet! Tonight, the Terps were invited to the post-season WNIT. This was not a surprise. It was a pretty good bet that, having failed (though not by much) to beat Duke in Greensboro, the Terps were unlikely to be returning to the NCAA Tournament this year. And while it appears that some coaches consider a WNIT bid beneath them, thankfully Coach B doesn't feel that way. To the contrary, playing in a post-season tournament, where you must win to advance and a loss means you are finished for the year, will be great experience for this young team and will stand them in good stead for the future.

The news gets even better. Not only will the Terps be playing again this week, but they'll be playing at home, as they take on Iona of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference at Comcast on Friday night at 7 PM in the WNIT's first round. You can find the full bracket (pdf) here.

Ticket information is on the Terps' web site, here. Note that "Season ticket holders have until NOON on Wednesday, March 17 to reserve their same seats before all seats are made available to the general public."

Be there! Go Terps! Beat Iona!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


While the Mystics management continues to drop teasers about next Tuesday's big name free agent signing, the Tulsa Shock this week pulled out all the stops to announce a signing of their own -- the signing of Marion Jones to a training camp contract.

Yes, that Marion Jones. The convicted felon who was stripped of her Olympic gold medals, and whose conduct caused her teammates to be stripped of theirs as well. That Marion Jones. Who, yes, played basketball in college, helping lead the Tar Heels to a National Championship in 1994, but who hasn't played competitive basketball in about a dozen years.

Marion Jones has served her time, and is certainly entitled to a job and to a second chance. We believe that. We hope that she has turned a new page in her life and hope she has a bright future ahead of her. As for whether she truly has the skills to play in the WNBA (particularly after all this time away from the court), well, that's Tulsa's call.

We're not upset that Tulsa is giving Marion an opportunity to prove herself, but we admit to being a bit troubled by all the hoopla given to her signing a WNBA training camp contract. Not only did Tulsa hold a press conference to announce Marion's signing, but WNBA President Donna Orender was on hand for the occasion and proclaimed that Marion Jones is
"clearly a global figure, who people are interested in. Having somebody like that associated with our league is positive.”
Postive? Really? Just look at the title of the New York Times article in which the above quote appeared: "Jones, Disgraced Sprinter, is Joining the WNBA." What Marion Jones did was no little thing. Ask her Olympic teammates. We can only guess that by "positive," Donna O meant that the signing would bring a flood of media attention to the League (which it did) and that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Well . . . that's debatable.

Since Donna O is making the rounds of free agent signings, we hope to see her at the Verizon Center on Tuesday for the Mystics' big announcement. By all accounts, that signing will be a positive one . . . and it won't be just a training camp contract, either. According to an on-line article posted Friday by Milton Kent (formerly of the Baltimore Sun), "[Katie]Smith is believed poised to sign with the Washington Mystics."

That information certainly squares with all the message board chatter about who the Mystics are about to sign. In fact, yesterday, the Mystics' own web site had a reminder of the upcoming "Big Announcement," accompanied by a blacked out picture of the "mystery free agent" whose silhouette looked just like Katie. In fact, the graphic looked exactly like a blacked out mirror image of this actual photo of Katie here (and a big shout out to message board poster "speedracer" for the eagle eye on this one). It seems as though someone in the Mystics' front office had fun this week with Photoshop! The Mystics' image was taken down yesterday evening, so if you missed it, sorry!

If it's not Katie, well, the Mystics have done a great job of disinformation, and the laugh will be on us! But if it is Katie, then Washington will be getting a player who earned her Olympic gold medals fair and square. Donna O . . . hope to see you on Tuesday. Come celebrate with us.

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Monday Morning Update: The Mystics have announced that Tuesday's 1:00 PM press conference will be streamed live on line. Also, they've layered a screen over their home page containing the blacked out photo they had up last week. Compare it with the real photo of Katie here, and see what you think!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A Letter to the Fans from Coach B . . .

To The ACC's Best Fans,

On behalf of our entire team, I want to say a big “thank you” to all of our wonderful supporters who made it down to Greensboro to cheer us on. You are amazing. We didn’t go as far as we would’ve liked, but there’s no question which school once again had the best fans- MARYLAND. And that is despite a much further distance to drive than some of the other schools.

We want you all to know how much your incredible, passionate support means to our team. When games get tough, that extra boost from our fans makes a difference. As a staff, we love taking a glance up to the stands to see you all there. Our new coaches have really been impressed by the support we get. One of them remarked at one point “they are so ready to explode and cheer for us”.

We also know that traveling and spending a weekend in Greensboro is not cheap and that you spend your hard-earned money on us. I can promise you that we are working hard to make sure we put the best team possible on the floor. Literally the night our tournament ended, three of our staff members got packed up and headed out to see future recruits the very next day.

Great times are ahead. We really saw some of our young players develop this season and help is on the way with five new players arriving next season. We won’t be satisfied until our performance is worthy of the support you all provide.

All Our Best,


Friday, March 05, 2010

Are You Sure Today Isn't Sunday?

The calendar says Friday, but today didn't feel like a Friday. Fridays are for early round advancing in tournaments, not back-and-forth, tightly contested, down to the last second, down to the last shot contests between the #1 seed and the #9 seed. Fridays are not supposed to follow the day when you knock off the Tar Heels, and then have to face the Blue Devils. That's supposed to play out on Saturday and Sunday, with the Championship on the line. Only this year, it all happened on Thursday and Friday.

And though it wasn't the Championship Final, it would seem somebody forgot to tell the players. This afternoon -- Friday afternoon -- the Terps and the Blue Devils played another classic Red vs Blue battle, one that, unfortunately, the Blue team won, 66-64. We don't know what the rest of the tournament holds for the winner, but it would be hard to imagine any team pushing Duke any harder than the young Terps pushed them today. #1 vs #9 isn't supposed to be that close . . . but it was. And the Terps nearly, almost, not quite, pulled off the upset.

It would be a lie to say we aren't disappointed. The team no doubt is heartbroken, and their fans -- hundreds and hundreds of them here in Greensboro today -- feel very bad for them. But all the Red People (and even some of the Blue People we spoke to after the game) had nothing but praise for the come-to-play, leave-it-all-on-the-floor effort that the Terps brought today. Once again, they made us proud to be Maryland fans.

For the second game in two days, "veteran" Lynetta Kizer was a Beast on the floor, and showed again why she will be a force to be reckoned with as an upperclassman in the coming two seasons. Netta led Maryland with 16 points (and once again was perfect from the free-throw line, hitting 8 of 8). And what can we say about Anjale Barrett? Wow! Anjale came off the bench and made several big shots that were absolutely critical in Maryland's keeping the game close. Anjale was second in Maryland scoring, finishing with 15 points. Lori Bjork and Jackie Nared both finished in double figures as well (14 and 10 points, respectively) and both made significant contributions to today's effort. Though they didn't win, the Terps played their hearts out, and they certainly made Friday feel like Sunday.

And so ends the 2010 ACC season for the Terps. What lies ahead (or doesn't) for the team in the coming weeks nobody knows. All we can do right now is thank the team for all their hard work and all the fun and excitement they've given us (their fans) and keep our fingers crossed that there is still some more fun and excitement ahead for all of us later this month.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

"Nothing could be fina than beating Carolina" . . . . in the morning afternoon, and that's exactly what the underdog Terps did today, 83-77, in Greensboro in the first round of the 2010 ACC Tournament.

Games like today's remind us why it's worth getting up at 5 AM to drive nearly 6 hours to Greensboro, and why it's so much fun being a fan of this team! And the BCs obviously aren't alone in feeling this way . . . plenty of other Maryland fans also decided the long drive was worth undertaking. We know because we saw Red People -- hundreds of them -- in the stands, in the arena, at the hotel. The Red Sea was practically as deep as the Carolina Blue in the arena . . . yet Chapel Hill is only about a half-hour away. And the team definitely appreciated our support.

From the opening tip-off, it was clear that the Terps had come to play today. That FSU game was relegated to their rear-view mirror, while the Tar Heels were clearly in Maryland's headlights. "Veteran" Lynetta Kizer in particular was totally stoked from the get-go; in her last appearance in the Greensboro Coliseum, she helped the Terps win the ACC Tournament, and she wasn't ready to have her season end today. Although she was only able to play 22 minutes (thanks to the refs, but let's not go there), Netta was an absolute Beast (in the best sense of the word). She set the tone for her even younger teammates, scoring early and often, rebounding, defending, even orchestrating crowd cheers. What an amazing display of leadership by this sophomore! Netta finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Foul trouble limited her minutes, but not her production . . . and definitely not her leadership.

Meanwhile, Tianna Hawkins, playing in her first ACC Tournament, filled in during Netta's absence, playing like a veteran, not at all like a rookie. Like Netta, T-Hawk finished with a double-double (13 pts & 11 rbs) and, also like Netta, she was perfect from the charity stripe. And was that ever important today!

When the Terps were up by about 10 with several minutes left to play, the Tar Heels resorted to playing Whack-A-Turtle, intentionally fouling and hoping to take advantage of Maryland's sometimes iffy free throw shooting. The strategy nearly succeeded, as a number of the Terps' much-needed free throws clanged off the rim. Fortunately, though, enough went in to keep Carolina at bay and seal the win.

Netta was not the only Terp in foul trouble today. Thanks to some creative interesting calls, Netta, Tianna, Jackie Nared and Diandra T were all playing with 4 fouls during much of the second half. Huge credit goes to Coach B for managing her lineup given all the restraints posed by the widespread foul trouble, and to all the players who played with 4 fouls and managed to stay in the game.

Today's win sets up a quarterfinal match tomorrow at 3PM with the Tournament's number 1 seed, Duke. In two close games during the regular season, the Blue Devils beat the Terps. Let's hope that the third time is the charm for Maryland! The #9 seed is supposed to be easy pickings for the Tournament's #1 seed. There's no question that Maryland is again the underdog. But hey, this is Maryland vs Duke . . . this is Greensboro . . . anything is possible! That's part of what makes this so much fun.

Go Maryland! Beat Duke!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Mark Your Calendars!

On Tuesday, March 16, at 1PM, the Mystics will be holding a press conference at the Verizon Center to announce the signing of "one of the most prestigious additions in Mystics history." All renewed season ticket holders have been invited to this press conference (another good reason to renew if you haven't done so already). In addition, there will be a "Meet and Greet" with the newest Mystic that evening at Bar Louie, also for renewed STHs.

In the entire history of the Mystics franchise, the team has never been able to sign a single major free agent. Not one. (Quite honestly, until recently, most big stars with other options simply didn't want to play here.) So regardless of who this player might be (and, yes, the BCs do have a particular player in mind . . . but we're only guessing), we think her signing will be a big breakthrough for the franchise, a message that things are turning around here in D.C. and that WNBA players recognize it.

Press conference and Meet & Greet on Tuesday, followed by St. Patrick's Day on Wednesday . . . wow, this has all the makings of a very fun week!

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In other Mystics news . . . Alana Beard and Lindsey Harding were among the 12 players just added to the 2010-2012 USA Basketball Women's National Team roster from which the 2010 USA World Championship Team and 2012 Olympic Team will be selected. Congratulations to AB and Lindsey!