Friday, August 27, 2010

It's Over

The Mystics' 2010 season -- the best regular season in franchise history -- came to an abrupt and very disappointing end tonight in Atlanta, as Washington lost to the Dream, 101-77, and was eliminated from the playoffs, 0-2.

Although Washington led by 4 points at the end of the 1st quarter, 21-17, another meltdown in the 2d quarter did them in, as they failed to score for the first 7:15 in the period (yes, not a single point in more than 7 minutes), while the Dream were tearing it up on the offensive end. By halftime, Atlanta was ahead, 50-28, having outscored the Mystics 33-7 in the second period. It was a very painful ten minutes to watch, particularly knowing that, barring a miraculous comeback, it meant the end of the season for the Mystics and their fans. Alas, there were no miracles tonight. By the end of the 3d quarter, the Dream had extended their lead, 75-45. All that was left was for the fat lady to sing. It seemed a very long 10 minutes until she did.

And then it was finally over. As we stated, this was the best regular season in Mystics history. The team broke the 20-win barrier for the first time ever, they set a franchise record with 22 wins, they beat every team in the league at least once, they finished first in the East, and they did it all without Alana Beard. These are no small accomplishments. There was much good in this season, and much good to be taken away from it. For now, though, we are just too sad, especially for the players, to be reflective about it. That will have to come later.

For now, we will simply congratulate the Atlanta Dream, which was the far better team in this playoff series, and wish them good luck as they advance to the Conference finals. We are particularly happy for Mystics alums Marynell Meadors (who got quite a birthday present today) and Coco Miller.

And, most important, we thank the Mystics for this great season. It was exciting, it was fun, it was historic. We won't forget any of that.

Go Mystics!

* * * * * *

Saturday morning update . . . It was not our intention to start looking ahead yet, but we would be remiss if we did not link to Kathy Orton's post-game interview, here, with Katie Smith about whether she will be back next season. The BCs would be very unhappy to see Katie retire (although we could certainly understand why, at the age of 36, she might), and even more unhappy to see her sign with another team, both possibilities she says she's considering.

Must Win

Yes, we know, it's an overused cliché, and not to put too fine a point on it, but the Mystics must win tonight in Atlanta or their incredible, exciting, best-ever season is over. Period. As the teaser on the front page of the Post's sports section says, "do or die." However you put it, the stakes could not be higher.

For Mystics fans, it will be a long day as we wait for this game. In the meantime, catch up on your reading -- Kathy Orton's pre-game story in the Post is here, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an article about game strategy, here.

And don't forget (how could you?) that the game, which starts at 7:30pm, will be broadcast on NBA TV. If that's not an option for you, you should still be able to watch on Live Access.

Go Mystics! Must Win! Beat the Dream!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

No Fortuna

The Mystics' front office went all out for Game One of the playoff series between Washington and Atlanta, producing a brand new megatron video shown before the player introductions. The video was an inspiring Mystics season highlight reel set to the music of Carl Orff's O Fortuna. It was a great choice of music that builds to a crescendo . . . and this evening it had the desired effect of getting the home team fans out of their seats and totally pumped up before the tip-off.

Unfortunately, once the game started, we (the home fans) were left standing far longer than anyone had planned, as it took the Mystics 3-1/2 minutes to score a single point (a free throw by Lindsey Harding) . . . time enough for the pumped-up crowd to begin to deflate.

Atlanta's new-look starting line-up took the Mystics by surprise, with Armintie Price and Coco Miller starting instead of their "bigs" for the first time this season. Before you could say WTH, the Dream were ahead, 10-1. Although Washington regrouped during the first quarter and ended the period with a 2-point lead (19-17), the Mystics used a lot of energy doing it. That led to a 2nd period in which the Dream clobbered the Mystics 31-14, and took a 15-point lead into the locker room at the break (48-33).

Many fans at half-time figured the game was over. But all season long this Mystics team has never given up (one of the main reasons we love this team), and tonight was no exception. Washington battled back (hard) during the second half, at one point cutting the deficit to two. But they could never quite get over the hump, and the Mystics ended up losing the first of this best-of-three series to the Dream, 95-90.

Atlanta shot a blistering 53.5% from the field tonight; the Mystics gave up 95 points . . . at home. So there's no question that the home team had problems on defense. After the game, Coach Plank made it exceedingly clear that she was not happy about it, bluntly stating she was "very disappointed in our defensive effort. . . The bottom line is, starters to bench, we have to defend."

The Mystics now head back to Atlanta, where they'll play the Dream on Friday at 7:30 PM in what, for Washington, is now an elimination game. Win, and we'll see the team again at the Phone Booth on Sunday. Lose, and the Mystics' 2010 season (their best ever) is at an end. Coach Plank expressed her optimism about Game Two: "I'm not discouraged. We're confident we can go into Atlanta and beat this team." And Crystal Langhorne echoed her coach's sentiment: "We have to win on Friday. There is nothing else. So we'll be ready."

We believe her. And we'll be ready too . . . watching on NBA-TV at 7:30 PM Friday night.

Go Mystics . . . Beat the Dream! (And come home to play on Sunday.)

The Playoffs . . . Starting Over

Wipe the slate clean; forget the regular season standings. When the first game of the (best-of-three) WNBA 1st round playoff series between the Mystics and the Dream tips-off tonight at 7 PM at the Verizon Center, the two teams are back to 0-0.

To paraphrase what Katie ("Buzzkill") Smith told her celebrating-teammates on Sunday in the locker room . . . nothing to get excited about, the Mystics haven't won anything yet. (Although as fans, we are excited . . . our team enters the playoffs as the top seed for the first time ever!) But there's no quetion that with 35 WNBA playoff games under her belt before today, Katie knows more than a little about post-season basketball. We're hoping that her leadership will help the Mystics carry their regular season success into this new playoff season.

Tonight's first playoff game may set the tone for the rest, so whatever you do, don't miss it! Come on out, bring your friends and co-workers . . . support the Mystics and help make the home court the advantage the team worked so hard to achieve!

Between now and the 7 PM start, here's some required reading to catch up on:

The Mystics and Katie Carrera's article are featured (above the fold) on page 1 of the Washington Post Sports Section. (If you don't subscribe to the print edition, today might be a good day to buy a copy.) And there's more here and here to read on Carrera's WP Blog.

Mike Fratto on CSN writes about the Mystics' "unfinished business."

And a few preview features: one here by Milton Kent; another here by Frank Della Femina on; Mechelle Voepel's feature here; and last, but certainly not least, Mel Greenberg's blog here.

Finally, the Mystics have their own new playoff page, so fans can peruse all the stats while anxiously awaiting this evening's tip-off.

See you at the Phone Booth!

Go Mystics . . . Beat the Dream!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Welcome Home!

About fifty or so hard core Mystics fans turned out at National Airport tonight on very short notice for a totally impromptu, welcome home celebration for the team upon their return from Atlanta. While we waited outside the security area for the Mystics to deplane, hundreds of other travelers passed through our fan tunnel and received an unusually warm welcome to our Nation's capital.

Sheila Johnson was the first to round the corner and see the fans. She and the players were completely taken by surprise to see us there. Nakia, seen here pulling out her cell phone, immediately starting taking pictures of all of us, and then posted this via Twitter:

The players and the entire staff filed through, high fiving and hugging everyone in sight.

While the players went off to retrieve their luggage, the fans insisted that Dr. J, Angela, and Coach Plank say a few words.

Dr. Johnson reminded everyone that a few years ago, she had laid out a "five year plan" for the Mystics' success. Now, she said, Angela and Julie were well ahead of schedule. This brought not only huge applause, but loud chants of "Coach of the Year" for Julie.

What an historic day for the Mystics franchise and their fans! And to end it with spontaneous fun at the airport . . . If you're a sports fan, you know that special moments like this are rare and can't be taken for granted. We'll remember this one for a very long time. We hope the Mystics' players, coaches and owner do too!

Thank you, Mystics!

Photo credits: Nakia Sanford (third photo from top) and DC BasketCases

***The Mystics are scheduled to arrive at National Airport on Delta Flight 1538 at 10:08PM. We think they deserve a BIG welcome. Join us!!!***

* * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * *
The Washington Mystics --- 2010 Eastern Conference Regular Season Champions!!!!!

UNBELIEVABLE!!! AMAZING!!! The Mystics beat Atlanta . . . and finished the regular season FIRST in the Eastern Conference.

The team made history today. The Mystics have never, ever, ever, even gotten close to 1st place in the regular season before. We're still having a hard time getting our minds around this. Wow. And without Alana Beard. Before the season, most of the prognosticators were picking Washington to finish dead last! But this team didn't let the absence of their star faze them. No, they just worked that much harder. And they BELIEVED. They didn't finish last . . . they finished 1st. Who would have thought this would be the year they'd come so far? We confess, not even die-hards like the BCs saw this one coming.

When the game began today, the Mystics came out laser-focused, playing like they were on a mission (which they were). They totally dominated the Dream for the first 30 minutes: leading by 9 at the end of the first quarter, by 17 at the end of the half, and by 23 points (74-51) at the end of the third period. Despite the Dream's bigger posts, the Mystics were able to penetrate almost at will. Indeed, as the Atlanta announcers observed, Lang nearly had a double-double in the first quarter.

The Mystics seemed to be cruising to victory. But Atlanta is a playoff team; they did not give up, and they pushed and pushed and pushed during the last period, closing the gap to single digits. As the final minutes clicked away, the Mystics made the game just a little bit too interesting for their fans. And then, with about 22 seconds left, Live Access died! OMG. What happened? Fortunately, the final score quickly appeared on the WNBA's web site. Mystics WIN, 90-81!!!!!! We won! We won! We won!

Monique Currie led all scorers, with 20 points. Lang, who played only 29 minutes thanks to Washington's big lead for most of the game, had yet another double-double (18 points and 11 boards). Coming off the bench, Matee Ajavon and Nakia Sanford rounded out the Mystics' double-digit scoring, with 11 and 10 points, respectively. But today was all about the TEAM.

The TEAM won today's critical game. The TEAM finished 1st in the Eastern Conference. The TEAM secured home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

Congratulations to the entire Mystics TEAM . . . and a special congratulations to (our WNBA COY) Coach Julie Plank and to everyone in the wonderful Mystics organization. We've waited 13 years to see our favorite team reach this benchmark . . . and boy does it feel good.

Now, on to the playoffs!!!

* * * * * *

The WNBA has now posted the playoff schedule, here. The Mystics will play their first game, against the Dream, at the Phone Booth this Wednesday at 7PM. If you haven't purchased your playoff tickets yet, what are you waiting for??

The Mystics are scheduled to arrive at National Airport on Delta 1538 at 10:08PM. We think they deserve a big welcome. Join us!!!



THE EAST!!!!!!

Number 1 and Counting.

There's never been a day like today in Mystics history. Here we are, on the final day of the WNBA regular season, and the Mystics have the incredibly exciting, first-time-ever, opportunity to finish at the top of their Conference. What they have to do to accomplish that is beat the 4th place Dream in Atlanta at 3 PM.

And that won't be easy, but the Mystics (to use that well-worn, but accurate, cliché) control their own destiny . . . and that's a great situation to be in!

While we hate to contemplate any other outcome, we've wondered (and fans have asked us): what if the Mystics don't win? Well, the Eastern Conference is so still so bunched up, the outcome of today's games could result in the Mystics finishing the day in first . . . or in second . . . or even in third place.

With one game remaining, Washington, New York, and Indy have identical W-L records, 21-12, with the Mystics holding the tie-break over those two rivals. (At 19-14, the Dream are in 4th place and cannot move up today.) Although the league's tie-break rules are a bit complicated, here's our take on how things could shake out for the Mystics when the final buzzer sounds later today on the regular season:

1. (Our favorite scenario.) If the Mystics beat the Dream this afternoon, Washington clinches the number one spot in the East no matter what happens to the Libs and the Fever in their games.

2. (Our consolation prize scenario.) If Washington, New York and Indy all lose, the three teams will finish tied at 21-13, and the Mystics will still finish in first place.

3. (Our least favorite scenario.) If the Mystics lose and the Libs and the Fever both win, Washington will drop to third in the East (and lose home court advantage.)

4. (Our "well, we still get home court" scenario.) If the Mystics lose, and either New York loses and Indy wins, or Indy loses and New York wins, then Washington will finish second.

Obviously, what the Mystics and their fans hope for this afternoon is a good old fashioned "W" against Atlanta (none of this nerve-wracking "what-if" stuff). A win and the Mystics finish first and are guaranteed home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. That would be uncomplicated . . . historic . . . and amazing!

Go Mystics . . . Beat the Dream (and finish first)!

[By the way, the game won't televised, but we'll be watching on Live Access!]

Friday, August 20, 2010

This is H-U-G-E!

We said tonight's game would be HUGE, and was it ever!!!

The Liberty and the Mystics came into the Phone Booth tonight as the two hottest teams in the WNBA; New York with a league-best 10 game winning streak and the Mystics having won 4 in a row. Both teams had already clinched playoff berths, but home court advantage was still up for grabs. The stakes were enormous, and it was a playoff atmosphere inside the arena. Not only was the game HUGE, but so was the crowd -- 13,109! There were even fans up in the nosebleed 400 level; no one has sat up there for years!

As for the game itself, it began with a close and very tense first half. The Mystics took a slim, 4-point lead (35-31) into the locker room. But during the third quarter, Washington broke the game open (or so we thought), extending their lead to 12 points (61-49) going into the final period. But then, to the horror of the stunned hometown crowd, the Mystics shifted into meltdown mode. Shot clock violations, turnovers, fouls . . . ugly (and not very smart) basketball. The Liberty took full advantage. New York not only closed the double-digit gap, but inched ahead in the final two minutes of the game. Uh-oh.

This called for drastic measures: It was time for BC Eileen to fish out her Magic Mystics Blue Glow-in-the-Dark Bracelet. After that (to make a long couple of minutes short), the Mystics miraculously managed to pull out the victory, 75-74 . . . thanks to two critical baskets, one each by Marissa Coleman and Lindsey Harding in the final 30 seconds, and a few missed shots at the buzzer by New York. Whew. What a fourth quarter!

So at the end of the night, the Liberty's streak has come to an end, and the Mystics now own the longest current win streak (5) in the WNBA.

But there's more good news! Tonight's win, coupled with the Fever's loss tonight to San Antonio (thank you, Silver Stars!) means the Mystics are now tied for first in the East (21-12) with New York and Indy, with one game left in the regular season. And, since Washington holds the tie-break over both those teams, a win by the Mystics on Sunday against Atlanta would give them the regular season Eastern Conference title, even if Indy and New York also win out. Amazing! The Mystics have NEVER been in this position before. In fact, right now, stop reading and go over to the Standings page on, here. Look at that -- the Mystics sitting atop the East, at this stage of the season. HUGE.

What a night. What a win. (Even a little rumble after the final buzzer.) What more could we ask for on Fan Appreciation Day!

Go Mystics . . . Beat the Dream (and wrap up 1st place)!!!

Mobile Blogging: HUGE WIN!!! More later!#

THIS . . . IS . . . BIG!!!!!

No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Tonight's game against the Liberty is HUGE.

Get yourselves down to the Phone Booth for the 7PM tip-off. Bring your friends. Bring your family. Bring the folks in your office (even bring your boss). Be loud.* Be rowdy. Help cheer the Mystics to victory!

Go Mystics . . . Beat New York!
* * * * * * *
*The first 5,000 fans get noise-makers (and a t-shirt and team photo)!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dear USA Basketball,

Bite me!

Sincerely yours, The DCBasketCases

Yesterday, USA Basketball added four more players to the National Team pool from which the teams that will compete in this fall's World Championship and the 2012 Olympics will be selected -- Rebekkah Brunson, Ebony Hoffman, Jayne Appel and Kia Vaughn.

Wait a minute . . . did we read that right? They added WNBA bench players Kia Vaughn and Jayne Appel, but not Crystal Langhorne? Lang, who is in the WNBA's top ten in so many categories it would make your head spin -- including scoring (10th), rebounding (5th), double-doubles (4th), field goal percentage (2nd), and efficiency (8th) -- that Lang? Snubbed in favor of Kia Vaughn and Jayne Appel? The same Lang who has already had such success playing for USA Basketball in international competition on the national age-group teams? (See, e.g., Exhibit A here and Exhibit B here.) And is now an even better player?

Are . . . you . . . kidding . . . us?

So glaring was this omission of Crystal Langhorne -- particularly given the inclusion of Appel and Vaughn -- that Mechelle Voepel immediately tweeted that USA Basketball had "whiffed" on this selection. Mechelle has followed up that tweet with a MUST READ column posted on (link here) wondering (in far more than 140 characters) what's wrong with this picture.

What's wrong indeed? Representing your country is a BIG deal. Crystal has done everything USA Basketball's ever asked of her. Shame on them.

* * * * * *
Update . . . In case you may be wondering what Mystics GM Angela Taylor thinks of all this (in 140 characters or less), she tweeted the following this morning: "For the record, Crystal Langhorne should ABSOLUTELY be in the USAB pool. I respect the committee, but they missed the ball on this one." And, citing Mechelle Voepel's column, Angela added that "She's spot on in her thoughts!!"

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

20 Wins . . . Amazing!

When the news came out last spring that Alana Beard would miss the entire 2010 WNBA season, we doubt that even the most die-hard Mystics fans (and we include the BCs in that group) would ever have predicted that this would be the season when the team finally broke through to that previously unattainable benchmark of a 20-win season.

But tonight, in San Antonio, the Mystics did just that, defeating the Silver Stars 76-66 to improve to 20-12 . . . 20 wins! And still two games left to play in the regular season. Unbelievable! (Time for another happy dance in front of Live Access on our computer.)

What a marvelous achievement for Angela Taylor, Coach Julie Plank (who has the BCs' vote for WNBA Coach of the Year) and her entire coaching staff, and (of course) the players. What a special day for (long-suffering) Mystics fans.

The game itself wasn't the most interesting. At least not until the final minutes when it was clear that the Mystics were going to secure this milestone win. It was a bit sloppy (20 TOs for the Mystics), and a bit of a foulfest (42 fouls called). Washington won by playing team ball (17 assisted baskets) and having three starters reach double figures. Once again Crystal Langhorne led all scorers (this is a recorded announcement), with 21 points. She also grabbed 12 rebounds, for her 14th double-double of the season. Mo Currie and Katie Smith each added 13. Also important to the win tonight was the Mystics' free throw shooting, including the 7 of 8 hit by Nakia Sanford, who, shall we say, hasn't always been that successful from the line (but has been very reliable of late).

With every team in the league playing tonight, including games between Eastern Conference rivals, it was inevitable that ground would be gained and lost in the jockeying for playoff position in the Conference. And indeed that's what happened. Red hot New York (9 wins in a row!) beat Indy, and Atlanta lost to last-place Chicago. This means that the Mystics, though still in 3rd place, are now a game and a half ahead of the 4th place Dream, a half-game behind 2nd place New York, and 1 game behind 1st place Indy. What a final week this is shaping up to be!

The Mystics now return home for their head-to-head match against New York at the Phone Booth on Friday (7 PM), a game that is obviously critical if Washington is to move up in the standings. Before that game, though, the Libs will play the cellar-dwelling Shock on Thursday.

Friday is the Mystics' last home game of the regular season. It's Fan Appreciation Night. We think it's also a night for the fans to come out and show this team how much we appreciate them. It won't be easy to knock off the Liberty, but with help from a large (and rowdy) crowd in the house, the Mystics can do it!

Mystics, Go Get #21 . . . Beat New York!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In the Front Door!

The Mystics are playoff-bound . . . and there are still three regular season games left to play. How cool is that?

In prior years, on those rare occasions when the Mystics were still in contention for a playoff spot this late in the season, it seemed like we were always waiting for the team to nail down a spot in the final game of the regular season or we were pinning our hopes on other teams losing so the Mystics could sneak in through the back door. But not this year!

Oh no. This afternoon, the short-benched, Alana-less Mystics (picked by many in the preseason to finish last in the East) simply knocked off the WNBA's #1 team, the Seattle Storm, 80-71, at the Phone Booth. An hour later, the Connecticut Sun, who trailed the Mystics by 3 full games in the standings at the start of the day, fell to Indiana. So, with 3 games remaining in the regular season, the Mystics ended the day 4 games ahead of Connecticut. Game. Set. Match. The Mystics are going to the playoffs!!! Woo-hoo!

And make no mistake, this afternoon's match-up was a real game between two playoff-bound teams. The other night at Mohegan when the Storm played the Sun, Lauren Jackson sat out the entire game and the other Seattle starters played very limited minutes. We guess you could say the Sun hit the jackpot that night at the casino, as they grabbed an easy win to stay alive in the playoff race. But today was different. Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird, Swin Cash and all of the Storm's first string played starter minutes. Perhaps Seattle Coach Brian Agler would've rested his starters if his team had built a comfortable lead on Washington. But he didn't (rest them) and they couldn't (build much of a lead). The Mystics just wouldn't concede any ground today to the Western Conference regular season champions. No free pass (like Connecticut got) for Washington . . . and, it didn't matter, because they didn't need one!

The Mystics were down by 4 at the half, but they outscored Seattle 27-17 in the 3rd period to pull ahead and never looked back. Coach Agler contested the game until just under three minutes, when, with Washington leading by 8, he pulled Jackson and Bird.

Monique Currie came up huge for the Mystics today. She led all scorers with 25, nailed 5 of 7 from beyond the arc, hit all 6 of her free throws, and stole the ball 4 times. Lang finished with 15 points, and Lindsey had 13.

The Mystics are not only in the playoffs, but today's win set a franchise record for most wins in a season -- 19 (and counting!). The remaining week of the regular season will be spent jockeying for playoff position and home court advantage, but the four Eastern Conference playoff teams have now been decided: Indy, NY, Washington and Atlanta.

It was a great day to be a Mystics fan at the Phone Booth.

The only sour note came before the tip-off: the National Anthem was sung off key and flat by three women identified as winners of the Miss Chinese American Beauty Pageant. Their rendition of the Anthem was so painful that the players (doing their best to remain respectful) had a really hard time keeping from grimacing or laughing. (We have to assume that singing was not what these three young ladies did for the talent part of their pageant competition.)

But all's well that ends well . . . and today ended very well indeed for the Mystics and their fans. This afternoon was the last game in Washington's three-game homestand. The Mystics head to San Antonio tomorrow to face the Silver Stars on Tuesday, then return for their final home game of the regular season on Friday when the laser-hot New York Liberty (8 wins in a row!) come to town. Don't miss this one: not only is it Fan Appreciation Night, but the Mystics need all the fan support they can get in this big game against the Libs.

Wow. Two years with Angela Talyor in charge; two years with Julie Plank as Head Coach; two years in the playoffs. That's never happened before . . . two consecutive playoff seasons. We don't know about the rest of you Mystics fans, but we're liking this. A lot.

Go Mystics . . . Beat the Silver Stars!

Friday, August 13, 2010


When the Mystics and the Lynx tipped off tonight, both teams were in 4th place in their respective conferences, precariously clinging to that last playoff position. By halftime, the Mystics were down by 11 (40-29), having played an extremely sloppy 20 minutes. They turned the ball over 16 times . . . leading to 16 first-half points for Minny. It certainly looked as though the Mystics were the team that would give up some ground to their conference rivals in the playoff race tonight.

But during the break, BC Eileen fished around in her bag and found her Glow-in-the-Dark Magic Mystics Flashing Bracelet from Camp Day. As the 2nd half started, she put it on, waved it around on each Mystics possession, and repeated the magic words: "Good Mystics Karma" . . . and that seemed to do the trick.

The Mystics turned in a stronger performance during the third quarter, outscoring the Lynx 21-12 and narrowing Minny's lead to only 2 at the start of the final period. The Lynx maintained a slim lead for most of that last quarter, but neither team was able to find any offensive rhythm. (In fact, tonight's fourth period combined scoring total of 17 points tied the WNBA record for the fewest points scored in a fourth quarter.)

It may have been ugly, but it was still a tension-filled, on the edge of your seat, nail-biter of a period. The lack of offense meant that every basket, every free throw, every bad call, might end up being the one that decided the game (and potentially whether a team made the playoffs). When the Mystics closed the gap to 2 points with 1:43 remaining, the fans were either screaming at the top of their lungs or holding their breath. Everybody was gasping for air. When the Mystics took the lead on a Katie Smith 3-pointer in the final 43 seconds, the Phone Booth went wild. With Mystics fans on their feet screaming, those remaining 43 seconds seemed an eternity: Minny got the ball back, could not score, could not inbound, and finally a foul sent Lang to the line shooting two. Crystal nailed them both, which meant that the Lynx needed a three to tie. They missed. They fouled Lang again. She missed. Jump ball. Lynx got off one more shot. A miss! Mystics win, 61-58! (Breathing resumed.) Wow! Who knew that so little offense could generate such excitement!

Lindsey Harding led Washington's scoring with 15 points. Lang once again turned in a double-double (12 points and 14 boards), and Katie rounded out the double-digit scoring with 11.

Except for the fact that it was an important come-from-behind win (with major playoff implications), this would be a game the players and their fans would most likely want to forget. The Mystics committed 23 turnovers. They shot only 36% from the floor, and the Lynx shot only 30%. The Mystics scored only 11 points in the fourth quarter, while the Lynx only scored 6. (As we said, a record!) 61 points usually isn't enough to win, but tonight, that's all that was needed for the Mystics to pick up another W.

And what a huge W it was, tying the franchise record for most wins in a season (18), and securing only the third winning season for the Mystics in franchise history. (Yes, only 3 winning seasons in 13 years.)

Most important, the Mystics' win tonight kept 5th place Connecticut (which beat Seattle) still three games behind the Mystics with four games left to play. And because the Liberty beat the Dream, the Mystics have leapfrogged over Atlanta into third place in the East, a half game ahead of Atlanta. Nevertheless, the Mystics haven't yet secured a playoff berth.

So yes, every game remains critical. And the next game is at home, on Sunday at 4 PM against the Seattle Storm, which has already locked up a playoff berth, clinched the Western Conference regular season title and secured home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Mystics need everyone to come out on Sunday to cheer . . . and bring diapers.

That's right, diapers!

The Bus Stops Here!

Well, to be more precise, the March of Dimes' Mama and Baby Bus will be stopping at the Verizon Center on Sunday, just in time for the 4 PM game against the Storm.

Why the visit? Well, the Mystics are partnering with CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield on Sunday to hold a diaper drive to benefit the Bus, which is the City's only prenatal and dental mobile unit. Parking in six different locations each week, the Mama and Baby Bus provides free prenatal and dental care to pregnant women in Wards 1, 2, 4, and 5.

The first 150 fans to donate diapers on Sunday will be invited to a post-game autograph session, and the fan who donates the most diapers will get to have dinner at Morton's with a Mystics player of her choice on a future, mutually agreeable date. (Steak! Yummy! They do have seafood entrees in case you win and want to dine with Nakia.) Everyone else who brings diapers to the game will have the enormous satisfaction of knowing that they've helped a very worthy cause.

Bring diapers! (New . . . no used ones, please.) Fill the Bus!

And, Go Mystics . . . Beat the Storm!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Home Stretch!

As every Mystics fan knows, the Eastern Conference playoff race is coming down to the wire.

On Friday, the Mystics play the first of their remaining five games of the regular season, all critical to making the playoffs. The Mystics will play three of those five games at the Phone Booth, and GM Angela Taylor sent an email to season ticket holders today encouraging everyone to turn out for those games (or, if you can't make them, to give your tickets to folks who will). Help give the Mystics a true home court advantage! Here's some of what Angela had to say:

Hey Mystics Fans,

First and foremost, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank you all for your continued support of our team this season (and through the years). YOU are the BEST fans in the WNBA & have been a critical part of our success here at home. With a 10-4 record when we are here in the friendly confines of the Verizon Center, there is no doubt that you give us a huge home-court advantage. With that being said, we NEED you now more than ever.

The race for the Eastern Conference Regular Season Championship is heating up. Every game counts. Every basket counts. Every rebound counts. Every free-throw counts. AND every single one of you counts...big time. Three out of our five remaining games take place right here at the Verizon Center & we want to show the rest of the league just how big a home-court advantage we have.

We need all of you (our Mystics Season Ticket Holders) to find your way down for Friday's game versus Minnesota, Sunday's game versus Seattle, and Friday (August 20th) for our final regular-season home game against conference foe New York. If you can't make it, please pass your ticket(s) on to someone who will be rowdy!! Tell your friends, co-workers, neighbors, and anyone who will listen that the Verizon Center is the place to be for the next several weeks!!

We like that rowdy part! So c'mon everyone. Let's turn out in force and Rock The Blue in the Phone Booth.

It all starts tomorrow (Friday) at 7 PM.

Go Mystics! . . . Beat the Lynx!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back on Track!

After two road games this weekend in which the Mystics suffered some significant lapses (which led to two costly losses against Eastern Conference opponents), the Mystics got back on track tonight at the Phone Booth, turning the tables on one of those opponents, the Connecticut Sun. In a game that was exciting from start to finish, the Mystics took a slim 3-point lead into the locker room at the half (37-34), but thanks to a 21-6 run to open the second half, they stretched that lead to 20 points (70-50) by the end of the third period. The Sun never recovered from their lapse, and the Mystics got a critical must-win, 84-74.

Lang (again) led all scorers with 23 points (and recorded yet another double-double, pulling down 10 boards). Mo added 17 points, Katie finished with 12, and Chas rounded out the Mystics' double-figure scoring with 10 (and that's not counting the 2 points she scored for the Sun on a tap-in going for a rebound).

And though she fell a couple points shy of double figures, rookie Jacinta Monroe made her first appearance at home (she played in 2 games on the road) since missing 15 games due to her hand injury and put on quite an impressive show. In only 8 minutes off the bench, Jacinta was perfect from the floor (3 of 3, including two beautiful reverse layups and a long 2-point jumper) and perfect from the free throw line (2 of 2). She showed remarkable poise for a rookie, particularly one who's missed so much of the season. Her performance was rewarded with a huge ovation from the crowd as she was subbed out of the game . . . and that, we can assure you, brought a big smile to the rookie's face. It's great to see Jacinta back in action, and playing so well!

Tonight's win was sooooo important to the Mystics' playoff hopes. Not only did they improve to 17-12 on the season but, most important, they opened up a 3-game lead over the Sun for the 4th and final playoff spot in the East (with 5 games left to play). But they're not guaranteed a spot yet and the playoff picture remains tight in the East. The Mystics are only a half game behind New York and Atlanta and 2 games behind the Conference-leading Fever. It's going to be a heck of finish to the regular season. Every game counts!

And that includes the next game for the Mystics: Friday night (7 PM) in the Phone Booth against Minnesota. The Lynx (who beat San Antonio this evening on the road) are in their own playoff race in the West. Another big game . . . for both teams.

Go Mystics . . . Beat the Lynx!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Due to circumstances entirely outside our control (otherwise known as Live Access "technical difficulties"), we were not able to see most of the Mystics' game this evening against the Connecticut Sun, and neither was anyone else (except, of course, the folks up at the Reservation). And by the time Live Access was working, we were off at a family dinner. We returned home to learn that the Mystics had lost a critical game, 67-76, to the team breathing down their necks in the fight for the last playoff spot in the East.

For a summary of today's game, see the AP story, here. More here and here. Perhaps folks who saw what could be seen of the game can explain the enormous disparity in free throws taken (29 for the Sun, a mere 6 for the Mystics).

With six games remaining in the regular season, the Mystics are now 16-12. They are in 4th place in the East, only 2 games ahead of Connecticut. They face the Sun again on Tuesday, at 7pm in the Phone Booth. A win on Tuesday will go a long way in keeping the Mystics' playoff hopes alive (not to mention what once looked like a sure fire winning season). In fact, it's pretty much the proverbial "must win" game.

Go Mystics! Beat the Sun!

Spring Summer Cleaning

Ladies, time to clean out your closets! On Tuesday, the Mystics will be partnering with the wonderful local organization Suited for Change, which at no charge provides "professional clothing and ongoing career and life skills education to low-income women to increase their employment and job retention potential and to contribute to their economic independence." Since it was founded in 1992, Suited for Change "has helped more than 14,500 area women transition into the workforce."

At this Tuesday's game against the Sun, you can help Suited for Change help low-income women in our area "by donating new or gently used professional attire (handbags, suits, blouses, pants, blazers, shoes & accessories)." The Mystics will be ready for your donations with collection boxes at the Phone Booth.

Suited for Change is most in need of "handbags and interview appropriate clothing in size 0s and sizes 16 - 26. White and solid color blouses in all sizes, earrings, necklaces & scarves help [their] volunteers put together outfits that instill confidence and hope in local women who use [their] services to prepare for interviews and new jobs. All donated attire must be in good condition, in style, suitable for a business interview, and if a clothing item, preferably on hangers." For more information about Suited for Change, visit their web site, here.

The BCs think it's great that the Mystics are assisting such a worthy organization. We hope you can help too!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Due to circumstances entirely outside within our control, the BasketCases were unable to see the Mystics' game against New York tonight. Having checked the score along the way, and a bit of the play by play (including the Libs' 20-6 run to end the first half up by 14), perhaps it was for the best.

We are glad that Lindsey was well enough to start, and that Jacinta was finally back in action. Other than that (with the caveat that we did not see the game), it's hard to find the bright spots. Final score: New York 85, Mystics 77. Box score here. AP story here. More here. And from the perspective of a New York fan who was actually there, even more here.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Big Win! Big Loss?

You saw it tonight on ESPN2. The Mystics traveled to the Dream's house, where Atlanta has been nearly unbeatable this season (10-2 before today). And you saw what we saw, a gritty performance by the visiting team against the Conference-leading Dream. Mystics win, 86-78, to move up into 2nd place (tied with Indy), 1 game behind Atlanta.

Now if that were all that had happened tonight, the BCs would be doing another happy dance. But while the Mystics got a big win, they also suffered a loss. How much of a loss . . . well, it's too soon to tell. Of course, having watched it, you know we're talking about Lindsey Harding's injury. With a little less than 4 minutes remaining in the game, Lindsey landed on Sancho Lyttle's foot, went down and had to be carried to the locker room. She did not return to the bench for the remainder of the game. So, frankly, we're holding our collective breaths until more information is available about the extent of Lindsey's injury. Our fingers, toes and eyes are crossed hoping for the best.

Before she went down, Lindsey had managed to score 16 points, dish out 6 assists (against only 1 TO) and pull down 4 rebounds. Her performance, though slightly less dramatic than it was in Indy last week, nevertheless was critical to Washington's victory. Warhorse Katie Smith, playing 35 minutes (including taking over at PG when Lindsey left), led the Mystics with 18. Not unexpectedly, Crystal (or "Steady Eddie" as the coaching staff calls her) finished with another double-double (15 points & 12 rebounds), notching her 1,000th career point along the way. And Matee, off the bench, added 14 points (most of them in the critical final period) plus 4 assists.

All season, the Mystics have been outrebounding their (usually taller) opponents, and tonight was no exception (36-28), but what was encouraging about this game was that, for a change, the Mystics actually had more assisted baskets than the Dream. Washington's aggressiveness on the glass and unselfish play were two key reasons they got this big (nationally televised) win.

We're proud of the heart the Mystics showed. Beating the afterShock at home is nice, but beating the #1 team in the Conference on the road is even nicer. Let's hope that Lindsey's setback is minor and that she's back in action before Friday's 7:30 PM tip-off against the Liberty at Madison Square Garden. The Mystics certainly need her . . . especially now. It's always tough to win in the Garden, and at the moment the Libs are the hottest team in the WNBA, having won 4 in a row.

Go Mystics . . . Beat New York!

P.S. By the way, one promising development: though she didn't see action tonight, Jacinta Monroe was in uniform on the bench, so we hope to see her back on the court soon.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Number of Firsts

When you see United States Secret Service vehicles parked outside the Phone Booth, that's a pretty good hint as to who'll be attending the game . . .

And indeed, for the first time in franchise history, the President of the United States took in a Mystics game at the Verizon Center. President Obama was accompanied this afternoon by daughter Sasha and one of Sasha's friends. They sat courtside flanked by Mystics co-owners Ted Leonsis and Sheila Johnson. Sasha was smartly decked out in an Alana Beard jersey, and AB herself came over later to say hello. The President appeared to be enjoying himself, and spent a good portion of the game apparently explaining to Sasha and her friend the finer points of what was happening on the court.

But unfortunately, "finer" points were few and far between today. Truthfully, had the President not been in the house, this game would have been a complete snoozer. The bottom-feeding Tulsa afterShock, who arrived today with a 4-21 record, were (to the disappointment of anyone hoping for an exciting game) as dreadful as you might expect a team with that record to be. The Tulsa players gave it their all and played hard, but for the entire game it seemed to those of us watching that the Mystics were playing some other team's bench. After racing out to a 25-9 lead in the first quarter, the home team set their speed to cruise control and then drove safely to their intended destination. (We hope that POTUS doesn't think all WNBA games are this lopsided and, well, boring.)

With a little more than four minutes left in the game, and the Mystics up by nearly 30 points, it was time for the President to head out, waving to the crowd as he left. We're confident he didn't wonder about the eventual outcome, but for the record, the final score was 87-62. There's little question the Mystics could have stretched the margin some more, but (we think wisely) Coach Plank decided resting some of her starters was the greater good.

The most entertaiment this afternoon came after the game, when the Mystics held their annual post-game auction to benefit the Sibley Hospital Sullivan Center for Breast Health. As usual, Mystics COO Greg Bibb served as auctioneer. He's tremendously talented at this, and his skill at pushing the bids higher and higher helped raise a lot of money for a very good cause.

The items up for auction today included not only the usual game-worn pink jerseys, but also a number of other pretty cool collectibles, including Lang's larger-than-life "Got Milk" ad, which fetched $1200. Several basketball-related trips were among the most successfull auction items: a road trip to see the Mystics play San Antonio, including lunch with GM Angela Taylor, brought in $3300; a trip to the Stanford/UConn game to sit with Angela Taylor (a former Stanford star and Natty winner) and including an opportunity to meet Coach VanDerveer netted $3125; and a trip down to Knoxville to see Maryland's Vicky Bullett inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame went for $3500.

Rookie Jacinta Monroe led off the clothing auction with a bit of styling, snagging $600 for her jersey . . . a bargain.

The always popular Kia saw her jersey (and shoes) bid up to $1050.

Marissa's jersey and shoes went for a staggering four grand!

While the auction was going on, there was another "first" happening in the background -- Ted Leonsis was working in the empty stands cleaning up the arena after the game. Ted recently blogged that, as the new owner of the Verizon Center, he intended to make sure everything in the arena was up to snuff. He said he wanted first-hand experience with every job in the arena -- including joining the cleaning crew after a game -- to see how the jobs of all the employees are done. And so, true to his word, there he was, picking up the empty pizza boxes, water bottles, beer and soda cups and plenty of other trash. How often have you seen a billionaire owner of a sports conglomerate do that? Well, for us, this was a first.

As she did last year, Matee Ajavon joined Greg to help hawk the items up for bid. She definitely has a natural talent for this!

Lindsey personally thanked the fan who paid $2100 for her game jersey and a signed practice jersey from this year's All Star Game.

As might have been expected, the item that brought in the most money today was Katie Smith's jersey. Matee really helped run up the bids by reminding the fans that "Katie has played for thousands of years, and this could be her last jersey." Matee kept adding to the package, getting the bids up higher and higher. Katie's shoes were thrown in, then a home white jersey, lunch, and, finally, at Matee's insistence, an opportunity to meet Katie's dog. That did it, and the package went for (drumroll please) . . .FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!

Finally, Greg auctioned off a basketball signed by the President, which Sheila Johnson bought for $4000, and a signed Number 44 Obama jersey, which a lucky fan took home for $3100. Last year's auction brought in nearly $40,000. Today's set a record -- earning nearly $70,000 for Sibley Hospital. Another first!

After today's scrimmage game, the Mystics return to real competition on Tuesday, when they face the conference-leading Dream on-the-road in Atlanta at 7:30 PM in a game that will be televised on ESPN2.

Go Mystics . . . Beat the Dream!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases