Sunday, May 30, 2010

Eight Nine Is Enough

With Katie Smith in street clothes (the cross country travel having aggravated her back), the Mystics' active roster was reduced to only nine players this afternoon as they hosted the Connecticut Sun at the Phone Booth.

As it turned out, nine was all they needed. The Mystics (who were beaten badly by the Sun just a week ago at Mohegan) led from wire to wire, recording a 69-65 win and improving their record to 4-3 for the year.

With Katie out, Marissa Coleman got her first start of the season, alongside Lindsey, Crystal, Monique and Kia. We knew there was something weird about that starting line-up and then it struck us . . . 80% of Washington's starters all played in the 2006 NCAA Final. Old rivals, now teammates. Terps and Dukies . . . passing to each other, rebounding for each other, cheering, encouraging and supporting each other the way good teammates should.

And there's no question that today's victory required a team effort. In fact, for a period of time during the second half, the already shorthanded Mystics were playing with only eight players. Lindsey went down hard driving to the basket, apparently hurting her right shoulder, and left the floor with Navin, the Mystics' miracle-working trainer. The bench was beginning to look pretty thin and the fans were getting a little nervous. But fortunately, after an absence of several minutes, Lindsey was able to return. Whew! Every player who was suited up today played nearly double-digit minutes, and everyone -- including rookie Ashley Houts (who held her own filling in while Lindsey was being treated) -- contributed in one way or another.

Four Mystics finished in double figures. Once again Mo led all scorers, this afternoon putting up 18 points. And once again, Lang recorded a double-double (17 points -- also more than any individual Sun player -- and an incredible 16 boards); Kia had 11, including a couple of BIG lay-ins down the stretch, and Lindsey scored 10 points while dishing out 9 assists and grabbing 3 steals (that sore shoulder probably costing her a double-double today).

All in all, a real team effort. Not to mention a very important win. After their recent 3-game skid on the road, winning this one (against a conference rival) should give the Mystics a much-needed big boost of confidence.

The road-weary and battered players now have nearly a week to recuperate -- their next game isn't until Saturday, when they take on Atlanta at the Phone Booth at 7 PM. So we're hoping that Katie (whose status is day-to-day) might be back, and that Lindsey's sore shoulder has sufficient time to heal, and that the team will be almost at full-strength (no AB obviously) when the league-leading and currently undefeated Dream come to town.

Go Mystics . . . Beat Atlanta!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Mystics Left Town on their latest road trip with a record of 3-0. Then they dropped games in Connecticut and Seattle. And after the Mystics lost to the Sparks in L.A. last night, 81-75 (a game the BCs actually stayed up to watch), their winning record was swept away, and they return to Washington 3-3.

Last night, the Mystics didn't lose a 4th quarter lead as they did in Seattle. And they didn't turn the ball over excessively either. Last night, the Mystics' problem was poor first-half shooting (under 30%), including an inability to drain their shots when they got open looks. The big hole the Mystics dug for themselves had them playing catch-up all game long. They put together several runs that closed double-digit deficits to a single possession or two, but they just couldn't find a way to get any closer.

Five Mystics ended up in double figures, compared with only three on L.A.'s roster, but one of those three, Candace Parker, dropped 30 points on Washington. The Mystics had no answer for CP3, who also grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked 4 shots, and dished out 5 assists.

It's very late (or very early, depending on how you look at it), so let's just say that this was another disappointing, winnable game that the Mystics failed to win. With the exception of the debacle at Mohegan, Washington has been competitive on this road trip. But it's not horseshoes or curling, and close doesn't count.

Hopefully, the familiar and friendly atmosphere at the Phone Booth on Sunday (game time 4 PM) will help the Mystics get back on track and regain a winning record.

Go Mystics . . . Beat Connecticut!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Storm Blows By Mystics. It's hard to beat a team when you give up 36 points in a single quarter, and that's exactly what the Seattle Storm scored in the 4th period last night, as they overcame a deficit of 10 points with a little more than 11 minutes left in the game to beat the Mystics, 82-76. As our readers know, we did not see this late night game. But there's plenty to read in Jayda Evans's story for the Seattle Times, here, and in the AP story, here. For those interested in all the stats, the box score is here.

The Mystics now head south to LA to face the Sparks on Friday night.

Go Mystics . . . Beat L-A!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Late Game Tonight

The Mystics begin their two-game west coast road trip in Seattle tonight, with a match against the Storm tipping off at 10PM ET. You night owls can watch the game on Live Access, but a game that probably won't end til midnight or later . . . that's too late for the BCs on a school night!

As Jayda Evans has kindly reminded us, it's been five years since the Mystics last beat the Storm in Seattle, and with two of the world's best players on the Storm roster -- Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird -- Washington will have its work cut out for it in order to break that streak. But you never know . . . that's why they play the games! Let's hope the Mystics have regrouped and put Sunday's game far behind them!

Go Mystics . . . Beat the Storm!

Monday, May 24, 2010

ACC/Big Ten (actually 11) Challenge 2010

Today, the ACC and Big Ten Conferences announced the pairings and dates for the 4th annual inter-conference challenge. (The ACC holds a 3-0 advantage.)

11 of the 12 ACC teams will see action against the Big Ten. Only the University of Miami gets a bye this year.

All of the games will take place on two consecutive nights, starting Wednesday, December 1st, with Maryland playing on the road at Purdue on Thursday, December 2nd.

Entering the 2010 Challenge, Maryland is one of only 5 teams among the 23 from the two conferences currently undefeated in the three previous years of the competition. (And for the record, neither Duke nor the Heels are in that select company.)

This year's game -- though on the road -- will be a homecoming of sorts: the Terps will face off against a former teammate, Drey Mingo, who transferred to the Boilermakers a year ago and is expected to see action for her new team this season.

Go Terps . . . Beat the Boilermakers!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Poor Resolution . . . and Poor Execution

Perhaps we should be thankful that the resolution of the Live Access video feed coming from the Mohegan Sun Arena this afternoon was so bad that it was nearly unwatchable. Otherwise the very bad play coming from the Mystics (en route to their first loss of the season) might have looked even worse.

We give credit to the Sun of course, for their 80-65 win, but they definitely got a bit of help this afternoon from the Mystics. Four shot clock violations by Washington (two coming directly out of time outs), squandered transition opportunities, inopportune fouls, and poor shooting from the free throw line (69.6%) all played a large role in the Mystics' defeat. Poor execution all around.

During the first half, both teams played less-than-inspired basketball. It was a close half -- but not a well-played half -- of basketball. Neither team could pull away, and Connecticut headed to the locker room holding a slim lead at the break, 31-28. But the second half was another story. With the score tied at 35 midway through the third quarter, the Mystics went utterly, completely, and thoroughly flat . . . offensively and defensively. Connecticut went on a 25-5 run. Game. Set. Match to the Sun. Overall, the Sun's shooting was as mediocre as the Mystics' (both shot 39% for the game), but during that big run, Connecticut rained down 3s, finishing the day with 9 from behind the arc to Washington's 3.

Crystal Langhorne actually led all scorers with 16 (though we're sure she'd rather have a win than scoring honors). Marissa Coleman (11 points off the bench) and Katie Smith (10 pts) were the only other Mystics to hit double figures.

Washington needs to regroup quickly, as the team now heads out west to face the Western Conference-leading Seattle Storm on Tuesday and the struggling, but hungry, LA Sparks on Friday. Hopefully, the Mystics can find a way to get back on track before returning home for a re-match with Connecticut next Sunday afternoon at the Phone Booth.

Go Mystics . . . Beat the Storm!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Home Sweeeet Home!

For the first 10 minutes of tonight's game, the BasketCases were wondering if the pre-game unveiling of Crystal Langhorne's Milk Mustache ad might turn out to be the high point of the Mystics' home opener. To say the home team started out a little flat offensively might be a nice way of putting it. Another way of saying it is that this evening the Mystics spotted the visiting New York Liberty the first quarter, 9-18.

But once again, as they did on the road, the Mystics regrouped and roared back back in the second period, outscoring the Liberty 22-10, to take a slim lead into the locker room at the break, 31-28. The season-opening crowd of 10,000 Mystics fans (and approximately 158 Lib fans) were plenty revved up, and were given plenty of reasons to jump to their feet and cheer as halftime approached. After that lackluster opening stanza, finally, we had a ballgame!

Much of the Liberty's early run was fueled by the outstanding play of new Lib star Cappie Pondexter. Cappie burned the Mystics for 12 points in that first half, heading into the locker room leading all scorers. But in the second half, Katie Smith clamped down so tightly on Cappie -- holding her to a mere 2 points in those final 20 minutes -- that the BCs started thinking that maybe we should send Katie to the Gulf to try her hand at containing the oil spill. Thanks to Katie, if New York were going to win this game, they'd have to find some other player to get the job done. With Cappie dishing out assists, but struggling to score, New York inched ahead of the Mystics in the 3rd period. But with the game tied at 61 and 6:21 left to play in the 4th quarter, the Mystics' offense -- and their defense --exploded, as they finished with a 16-0 run to notch their 3rd consecutive win, 77-61.

While Katie did the defensive heavy lifting, Mo Currie and Lindsey Harding were the 1-2 offensive punches tonight. Both had big games, and each sparked runs at critical times. Lindsey led all scorers with 21 points, and Mo also outscored every individual New York player, with 18 points of her own. Lang (undoubtedly fueled by a large pre-game glass of milk) recorded a double-double (10 points, 11 boards), and Nakia Sanford also reached double figures in scoring (10). As for Katie Smith? Well, surprisingly, she was shut out in the scoring department, but more than made up for it with her defense. We were also pleased to see rookie Jacinta Monroe make her WNBA debut, scoring 2 points in four minutes off the bench. This was her first game as a professional, as she was sidelined with an ankle injury during the pre-season.

What an exciting home opener! It may not have started that way . . . but the standing ovation the team received on their final possession certainly confirmed that the fans (including the BCs) had a heck of a good time. With Alana out of the mix, the Mystics no longer have a go-to star to lead the way. But what we've seen thus far in these early season games is a well-coached total team effort, where several players contribute -- offensively, defensively or both -- and any one or more of the starters can go "off" on an opponent on any given night. That makes this team fun to watch. As we filed out of the Phone Booth, just about everybody we saw was smiling!

Washington is now 3-0, a perfect start to their 13th season. After the team's brief appearance at home, unfortunately the fans have to wait until a week from Sunday before we get to see the Mystics again (live, not Live Access). The Mystics now hit the road for a 3-game road trip, starting this Sunday at the Reservation, where they take on the Connecticut Sun at 3 PM.

Go Mystics . . . Beat the Sun!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Home Opener 2010 . . . tomorrow (Friday) at 7 PM!

For many fans, tomorrow night will be the first time they've seen the Mystics play in person this year. The BCs managed to sneak away from work for the midday preseason game and managed to find their way to St. John's H.S. for the scrimmage against the Polish National Team. But many other Mystics fans weren't as lucky.

Tomorrow, though, we expect plenty of company at the Phone Booth when the Mystics return from their highly successful Minny mini-roadtrip (2-0!) for their regular season home opener against the New York Liberty.

In the meantime, for those of us who've been wondering how Jacinta Monroe's ankle is doing, it was great to learn from the Washington Post's Insider blog today that Jacinta is participating in practices and is now listed as day-to-day, which means we may see her play very soon. While you're over reading the Insider, you can also learn more about the newest Mystic, PG Ashley Houts, acquired from the Liberty in a trade for Nikki Blue just last week. And Friday's paper has a nice article about Mo Currie's "strong start" to the season.

So lots to look forward to tomorrow . . . including Katie Smith's home debut and Lang's Milk Mustache! See you then.

Go Mystics . . . Beat the Libs!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Holy MO-ly!!!

For the second time in the last 24 hours, the Mystics spoiled the home opener for another WNBA team. Last night, they sent Indiana Fever fans home unhappy. Tonight, they not only sent Lynx fans home disappointed, but they also ruined Lindsay Whalen's much-anticipated return to Minnesota, as the Mystics beat Minny, 87-76.

The Mystics are now 2-0 this season, thanks largely to the MO-mentum provided in these two games by Mo Currie. What tremendous back-to-back performances she delivered this weekend! Naturally, the BCs and other fans have been wondering how (or if) the Mystics would be able to make up for the loss of Alana this season. If these two games are any indication, then we have the answer: Mo!

Tonight's game got off to a shaky start for the Mystics, who were down by 15 points early in the second period. But Mo, who already had 7 points in the game, poured in 11 more before halftime, and with help from several teammates, turned the MO-mentum completely in Washington's direction. The Lynx may have been leading at the break, 43-38, but the Mystics looked like they were ready to take control. And come the third period, that's exactly what they did. Washington took the lead, outscored the Lynx by 13 in the third, stretched the lead to 18 in the 4th quarter and cruised to an 11-point win.

Mo finished with 27 points and (for the second night in a row) led all scorers. As she did on Saturday, Mo got plenty of help, as three other Mystics finished in double figures: Crystal Langhorne and Katie Smith each had 16 points, and Lindsey Harding (bouncing back from her 0-fer as we expected she would) added 14. Once again, the Mystics only got 9 points from their short-handed bench, tonight all from a single player -- Marissa Coleman.

The Mystics now return home 2-0, and hopefully they can carry this MO-mentum into the Verizon Center for their own home opener on Friday, when they take on the New York Liberty at 7 PM.

Go Mystics! Beat the Libs!

* * * * * *
Live Access had a few kinks on Saturday night, but tonight it was virtually unwatchable. Judging from the message board chatter, some folks around the country had decent feeds but many of us had to watch the game in 60 second intervals, since after a minute or so the screen would freeze, we'd have to refresh, then repeat the sequence all over again. Let's hope this can be fixed before the Mystics hit the road again.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Healthy Start

The Mystics opened their 2010 WNBA season tonight at Conseco Fieldhouse, an arena where they hadn't won in the last 6 tries, against a team that had beaten them 7 in a row. But the Fever finally broke for the Mystics tonight, as Washington won, 72-65.

At times the Mystics definitely looked like they were playing their first game of the season, as they turned the ball over 24 times . . . far more TOs than any team should commit. But the Mystics compensated with strong rebounding (35 boards to Indy's 22) and by taking full advantage of their opportunities at the free throw line, nailing 17 of 20 (85%). On those possessions where the Mystics managed to hold onto the ball, they also shot an excellent 50% from the field, while holding the Fever to just 37%.

It's been said time and again that with Alana Beard out for the season, others would have to step up to make up for her production, and tonight they did. Four starters scored in double figures, led by Mo Currie, who took game-high honors with 21 points. Crystal Langhorne finished with 19, Katie Smith, in her first game for Washington, added 12, and Nakia Sanford had 11. Lindsey Harding struggled this evening (no points), and the Mystics got only 9 points from their bench. So, not perfect, but a healthy start indeed.

And when you get a W against a conference opponent, on the road, particularly against one that's given you so much trouble in the past, it's a really good way to start the season. But the Mystics don't have much time to savor their victory, as they play the second half of a back-to-back tomorrow evening in Minnesota against the Lynx at 7 PM. (Minny also won on the road tonight, spoiling the debut of the Shock in Tulsa.)

Tomorrow's game, like tonight's, will be available on Live Access, which got off to a pretty bumpy start. No game feed at all for well into the first quarter, and then, once there was video, it froze up repeatedly. Live Access for all games is a great way to follow the Mystics on the road, so here's hoping the league can smooth out the kinks (preferably by tomorrow night).

Congratulations Mystics! Go Washington! Beat Minny!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Mystics Open the Regular Season tomorrow (Saturday) at 7 PM on the road against Tamika Catchings & Co. (aka the Indiana Fever). As you may recall, the Fever ended the Mystics' season last year, beating Washington in the first round of the playoffs on their way to capturing the Eastern Conference championship.

Indiana has all its key players back (and apparently healthy), so this road game will be an early -- and tough -- test for the Alana-less Mystics.

Earlier today, GM Angela Taylor completed the unenviable task of trimming the Mystics' roster from 16 players to the required 11 (10 + AB). Here's the list of those who made the cut and will be representing Washington this season in the WNBA: Alana Beard (out-for-the-season), Matee Ajavon, Marissa Coleman, Monique Currie, Lindsey Harding, (Rookie PG) Ashley Houts, Crystal Langhorne, Chasity Melvin, (Rookie F/C) Jacinta Monroe, Nakia Sanford and last, but certainly not least, Katie Smith. Congratulations to all!

You can follow tomorrow's action via WNBA Live Access over the internet by clicking on the link here. And, in case you've forgotten how to convert your laptop feed to full-screen TV, click here for the link to the BCs' step-by-step instructions.

After tomorrow's game in Indy, the Mystics fly to Minneapolis for their first back-to-back of the new season, as they take on the new-look Lynx at 7 PM on Sunday. (The home team will also be playing a back-to-back, since Minny will be returning from facing Tulsa the night before.)

Some of the new faces on Minnesota should be very familiar to DC area fans. DC native Bekky Brunson, who played at Georgetown, was acquired by the Lynx in the Monarchs' dispersal draft. In the college draft, Minny picked up the ACC's Player of the Year, Monica Wright from UVA, who hails from nearby Woodbridge, Virginia. Another new addition of note, this one without local ties, is All Star PG Lindsay Whalen. Lindsay returned home to Minnesota as the result of an off-season trade with the Connecticut Sun. So the team the Mystics face on Sunday will be very different from the team that finished last in the West a year ago. This game, like all WNBA games this season, will be available on Live Access. Link here.

Other items of interest . . . We recommend that you take a few minutes to listen to Alana's telephone interview with NBA TV. Among other things, AB talks about her injury, her role with the team, and her timetable for recovery (link here). And here's the link to an excellent USA Today interview with Katie Smith. (More on Katie Saturday morning in the Washington Post.) And for Mystics old-timers like the BasketCases, you might be interested in the latest (not so good) news about former Mystics star, Chamique Holdsclaw: Milton Kent's NBA Fanhouse feature can be found here.

7 PM Saturday . . . Let the games begin. GO MYSTICS!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kristi Toliver's old friend (and Chicago Sky player), Tamera Young, tweeted the following this afternoon:
Best wishes to my buddy @KristiToliver in LA I'm gonna miss her.... She wants to wear purple and gold like JMU hahaha
This move has yet to be posted by the WNBA as an official transaction, and unless and until all the details are worked out, it won't be. (Indeed, Tamera may have jumped the gun, and has since deleted her tweet.) But if everything gets finalized, then Kristi will be on the move to the LA Sparks this summer, playing alongside Candace Parker, among others.

Hopefully this will happen and -- if it does -- will turn out to be a very positive career development for Kristi, who, in the opinion of the BasketCases, was under-utilized (to say the least) last season in Chicago.

Good Luck, KT!
* * * * * *
Update . . . A short time ago, Kristi herself tweeted "guess it's ok to finally announce that i'm leaving the chicago sky and am now apart of the la sparks." So without the official announcement from the WNBA, this is as "official" as it gets.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Got Milk?

Crystal Langhorne Has!

The Mystics announced today that Crystal is the latest athlete to join the National Milk Mustache "got milk?" campaign. (Lang's favorite? Lowfat chocolate milk!)

Lang's new nationally-circulated ad will be unveiled at the Mystics' home opener next week (Friday, May 21st).

Not that you needed another reason to attend the game . . . but just a little more fun to look forward to.

This is very cool . . . congratulations to Crystal!

* * * * *
Mystics trade . . . Late this afternoon, the Mystics announced that they have traded Nikki Blue to the New York Liberty for Ashley Houts, a guard from the University of Georgia drafted this year with the 16th overall pick.

Note: earlier today, based on Katie Carrera's having reported this in her "Mystics Insider" blog for the Washington Post, we noted that Shanavia Dowdell had been waived. Katie's information apparently was wrong; we regret passing it on and have deleted it from this post.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

! A-K-S-L-O-P

This evening, the Mystics held an open-to-the-public scrimmage against the Polish National Team at St. John's College High School in D.C. The school just happens to be the alma mater of the Mystics' Marissa Coleman, and plenty of her fans from St. John's were there, along with a generous sprinkling of Mystics fans and Terps fans.

Before the scrimmage, the Mystics held a regular team practice that was already in progress when we arrived an hour before the scrimmage.

And just to tire themselves out a bit more, the Mystics held an intense scrimmage against their male practice players for most of the hour while we watched. Practically all of Washington's players were already dripping with sweat before the Poles even arrived at the gym.

The Mystics received their pre-scrimmage instructions from Coach Plank, and were introduced by an announcer who had a bit of trouble with their names . . . not to mention his microphone. After struggling with the Mystics' names, he didn't even attempt to pronounce the names of the Polish players. (Fortunately, we had been given a roster at the door, so we could easily identify the members of the Polish Team without the introductions.)

The Poles had a huddle of their own, which was crashed by Mystic Ewilina Kobryn, who ran full tilt across the court to join her countrywomen in a group hug before the huddle broke up. Ewilina may not be in focus, but the smiles of her Polish friends clearly are.

This being Washington, an enthusiastic group of a couple of dozen Polish embassy staff and their families were on hand, cheering loudly and and yelling "Polska" for much of the game. (Trust us . . . they really were enthusiastic. This photo just happened to catch them practicing their old Soviet-bloc stares.)

The Polish delegation even brought their flag . . . and young flag-bearers. Plus, we learned something new tonight. (Who says you can't teach an old BasketCase a new fact?) See that coat of arms in the flag above? Well, it was missing from the picture of the Polish flag on the team roster that the Mystics distributed prior to the scrimmage. Could this be an embarrassing international incident in the making? Fortunately, BC Judith was able to whip out her iPhone and learn from a Wikipedia search that the Polish national flag does not have a coat of arms; however, a variant of that flag, with the coat of arms, is "legally reserved for official use abroad and at sea." St. John's College High School definitely qualifies as "abroad," so, indeed, the embassy staff were waving the right flag! Mystics scrimmages aren't just fun, they're also educational.

These adorable young fans from the embassy contingent held up this banner (POLSKA) -- backwards -- all game long. We're sure there's a Polish joke in here somewhere . . .

During one of the breaks, Marissa Coleman, who graduated from St. John's back in 2005, was finally honored for being the school's all-time leading scorer and leader in approximately a zillion other categories. (Better late than never!) Marissa, in turn, presented the school with one of her Mystics jerseys.

Despite the fact that the Mystics spotted them an entire practice, the Poles were no match for Washington. The first 10-minute period (when the Polish Team was still fresh) was close. The next two 10-minute quarters thirds were dominated by the Mystics. The final 5-minute bonus round was literally all-Mystics, as Washington held the Polish Team scoreless. Final tally of the 35-minute scrimmage: Mystics 71, Polska 44. Just about everybody on the Mystics' currently-bloated training camp roster saw plenty of action. GM Angela Taylor faces a tough job this week as she must trim the roster to 10 + Alana by 2 PM Friday.

And speaking of AB, Alana wheeled herself into the gym using a knee-scooter that keeps her big-booted ankle non-weightbearing and off the ground. She may not be able to play this season, but she's still very committed to the Mystics and is showing her support however she can. We really like that about her.

The 10 players who make the final cut will be boarding a flight around 4 PM on Friday to head to Indy for their season-opener the following day against the Fever. No more scrimmages, no more pre-season games, on Saturday it all begins for real.

Go Mystics!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mystics vs Polish National Team Scrimmage:

Open to the Public? Yes!

Admision Free? No! Bring five bucks. *

Parking Free? Yes.

When? Tuesday, May 11 at 6 PM.

Where: St. John's College H.S., 2607 Military Road N.W.

*It's our understanding that the money is going to the high school.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Please Don't Throw Them Out!

As you may have read in yesterday's Washington Post, Ted Leonsis announced on Friday that the WNBA Attendance Champions Banners, relics of an earlier Mystics age, will no longer have a home in the Verizon Center's rafters. Here's what Ted had to say about them on his blog, Ted's Take:
I was walking around the Verizon Center with Dick Patrick today and I asked one of the senior executives at the building about the Mystics attendance banners. And after some discussion we decided to take them down.

The only banners we should display revolve around winning a division or conference or league championship.

So to all of the folks who have emailed me your thoughts over the years about the attendance banners– as a heads up know they are no longer up in the rafters.

I hope we can put up some real championship banners based on team performance soon.

If you are unhappy about this change yell at me and only me.

Thanks…Go Mystics.

It's hard to argue with Ted's reasoning. And you've got to love his mindset -- the goal of a sports team is to win -- and only winning (or winners) should be celebrated with banners hanging in the arena rafters.

Of course, Ted also knows a thing or two about winning. Just look at the Caps (the disappointing end to the playoffs notwithstanding). As for the Mystics, last season it seemed pretty clear that Ted and Sheila Johnson had decided to close the book on the old Mystics and begin writing some new chapters. So yes, we agree, this is a new team with a new focus and it is time to celebrate winning -- not attendance --and begin raising some Mystics banners "based on team performance."

But as the Attendance Banners are taken down, our only wish is that they find a good home. They may not symbolize what the Mystics are about now, but back in the day, they served an important purpose. The Mystics entered a women's professional sports league still in its infancy. The WNBA was just getting off the ground and there was no guarantee it would even survive. In order to last, the teams needed to put an exciting product on the court . . . and they needed to put fans in the seats.

The about-to-be-retired Attendance Banners really weren't about honoring the team . . . they were about honoring the fans whose loyalty, whose enthusiasm, and whose hard-earned money spent on tickets, concessions and team gear helped the Mystics (and the WNBA) survive.

Those banners honored the fans of a hapless team who kept coming to games, year after year, who supported their team through all the coaching changes, player dramas, and, yes, downright dismal performances on the court. They honored the season ticketholders who suffered through that inaugural season of 1998 when the Mystics went 3 and 27, yet still renewed their tickets.

Not every team in the WNBA managed to survive. The about-to-be-retired Attendance Banners honored the Mystics fans who helped ensure that their team did not suffer the fate of the Orlando Miracle, the Miami Sol, or the Portland Fire. (Perhaps some readers don't even remember those early but-no-more franchises.) So while the Attendance Banners no longer have a place where performance banners should hang, the BasketCases believe that those Attendance Banners are, nevertheless, an important part of Mystics and WNBA history. As such, they do have a place and should be preserved. They should not be thrown away.

We have a suggestion for that "place" . . . Frame the earliest banner (from the 1998 inaugural season) and hang it on a wall in the Mystics' offices, with a simple plaque: "In Honor of Mystics Fans -- the Best and Most Loyal fans in WNBA History."

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

* * * * * * * * * *

Pre-season Game Update. . . This afternoon in Cookville, Tennessee, the almost-at-full-strength Mystics (only Matee Ajavon has yet to report to training camp) raced out to a 21-9 first quarter lead against the not-at-full strength Atlanta Dream (no Chamique, no Erika de Souza, no Coco) and never looked back. Final score: Mystics 77, Dream 58.

Mo and Marissa led the way for the Mystics with 16 and 13 points, respectively.

This afternoon's Mother's Day Special was the last time the Mystics play a WNBA opponent before the regular season opens next Saturday, when the Mystics face the defending Eastern Conference Champions, the Indiana Fever, on the road in Indianapolis.

But before that, Washington has one last pre-season tune-up -- a scrimmage against the Polish National Team -- this Tuesday at 6 PM, at St. John's High School in NW Washington, open to the public.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Summer Days

Technically, summer is still more than a month away, but after temps in the 80s most of the week, our thoughts (albeit prematurely) turned to ways of enjoying those long-daylight days of May June, July and August.

And the more we thought about it, the more we thought, "What could be more fun this summer than playing miniature golf?" (Apart from watching the Mystics, of course!)

We confess that while one of us actually owns a set of clubs and occasionally hits a bucket or two at the range, neither of the BasketCases could truly be described as a "golfer." But mention miniature golf to us . . . and we are there!

And now, thanks to the Maryland Rebounders, we -- and you -- have the chance to compare our putt-putt skills with those of some true athletes. In a game of H-O-R-S-E against Marissa, Lang or even Coach B, we're guessing Vegas would be offering 1,000,000 to 1 odds against the BCs. But mini golf is the great equalizer! We're ready to take on all comers. There are no windmills (just tall post players) to knock away shots in the WNBA. But in mini golf, that's an everyday, every hour, every minute occurrence. So to say we are looking forward to playing the same course, on the same day, under the same conditions with Lang, Riss, Coach B and other members of the Terps & Mystics glitterati, well, that would be an understatement.

In other words, yes, we are definitely looking forward to the Rebounders' first annual mini-golf outing on June 20th, at the Columbia Sports Park in Columbia, Maryland, to benefit the Maryland Women's Basketball program. And we hope that Maryland -- and Mystics -- fans alike will join us in supporting this cause -- even if you're not as big a fan of the mini version of the golf game as we are. One thing we guarantee . . . it will be fun.

Isn't that what the summer is for? F-U-N.

You can find the details for signing up for your tee time on the Rebounders site, here. You do not need to be a member of the Rebounders to participate; everyone is welcome!

Go Mystics! Go Terps! Go Rebounders Mini Golf!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Pre-Season Opener: Mystics vs Liberty

It was great to be back at the Verizon Center today and to see the Mystics on the court once again after so many months . . . and to catch up with a few of our BFFs who were able to sneak away for a lunchtime game. The not-at-full-strength Mystics beat the not-at-full strength Liberty, 65-60, in a contest that means nada zip nothing in the season standings . . . but was still fun for the fans (mostly screaming kids), who got to see the team get their first dub-u of the year.

And though that was nice (for the team and their fans), the other major purpose of today's game (aside from winning) was for the Mystics' brain trust to evaluate the players as the May 14th deadline for reducing the roster to 10 (plus Alana) looms ever closer on the horizon.

Watching the very talented young women on the court today, playing their hearts out, but knowing as a matter of simple math that so many of them won't make the team, was tough. Many skilled players, not enough jobs. Simply adding Katie Smith and Jacinta Monroe (the Mystics' first round draft pick) to the roster means that one additional player from last year's team will have to be cut. (Bernice Mosby is no longer on the roster.) And that's not even considering the other newcomers auditioning for the team. This time of year, we definitely don't envy GM Angela Taylor, who not only has to make these tough decisions, but also has to convey them to the players involved. It's no wonder that Angela has said this is the part of her job that she likes the least.

We got our first look at Alana Beard since her recent ankle surgery, which will sideline her for the entire season. Though AB may have been cooling her heels ankle, we assure you she was very much engaged in what was happening on the court . . . she's the team's new #1 fan!

Also not playing today: 1st round draft pick Jacinta Monroe (minor ankle problem), and reigning WNBA MIP, Crystal Langhorne (rookie chaperone and fashion consultant). We hope to see them both in action very soon.

What we've all been waiting for: Katie Smith's introduction as a Mystics starter for the very first time. And, yes, that's Assistant Coach Marianne Stanley making her first official return to the Mystics bench. Welcome Katie! Welcome back Marianne!

Also new . . . Official Lauren Bass models the refs' new uniform (complete with business-like scowl). The new orange & oatmeal color scheme is apparently designed to make the refs blend into the orange & oatmeal WNBA basketballs.

Next up for the Mystics: their second (and final) pre-season game, this Sunday at 4PM on-the-road vs the Atlanta Dream. The game will be played in Cookville, Tennessee.

D.C.-area Mystics fans will have one more chance to see the team before the season opener, as Washington scrimmages against the Polish National Team this Tuesday at 6PM at St. John's High School in D.C. in a match that will be open to the public.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases