Friday, October 15, 2010

Terps Fans . . . Start Your Engines!

Finally, what we've all been waiting for -- tonight (Friday), Maryland Madness is upon us, the formal kickoff to the new basketball season. Yay!

And what a "new" season, it is. Just when we managed to get familiar with all the newbies from last year's team, along comes this season's line-up, which includes six (1-2-3-4-5-6!) freshmen. If Maryland isn't the youngest team in D-I ball, it's certainly one of the youngest. It might take oldies like us a few games to figure out who's who. But that's part of the fun of following a great college program. New players, returning players, graduating players . . . young ladies moving on (well prepared) to their adult lives.

OK, too much sappy digression. Getting back to the team: five new recruits. The #2 ranked recruiting class in the nation. The Fab Five seemed like a good nickname for the new additions . . . that is until Coach B added a walk-on!

The five highly-touted recruits joining this year's Terps team: Whitney Bays (6'2" F), Natasha Cloud (6' G), Alicia DeVaughn (6'4" C), Laurin Mincy (6' G), and Alyssa Thomas (6'2" F). And let's not overlook our walk-on, Sequoia Austin (5'5" G ), who arrives with a pretty impressive pedigree herself. Read more here. A big BasketCases welcome to the Fab Five, Super Six . . . we can't wait to see you take the court! (And even more young talent is on the way . . . the Terps just got a verbal commit from an outstanding local player, Brene Moseley from Paint Branch H.S. who will be arriving in College Park less than a year from now.) And welcome back to all the returning sophomores, juniors and seniors. No seniors! Maybe Senior Night this season could honor AARP-card-carrying "senior" bloggers. Just a thought.

BTW, tonight's Madness (which will be televised by Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic starting at 9PM, and available on line at at around 7 PM) is only the beginning of a great weekend for fans of the Terps. On Sunday, the team will be holding its annual open practice for members of the Rebounders booster club. If you haven't already joined this fabulous group of Maryland fans -- you should! And you can easily do so by following this link. This group isn't only there to support the players, but also to support the entire women's basketball family, including coaches and staff. When there's a need for support . . . the Rebounders are there for them. You can count on us. Fear the T!

Unfortunately, some of us are over-scheduled and "stuff" sometimes interferes with basketball. This is one of those times for the BCs. While we have some fun-time with family, as well as other enjoyable activities, planned this weekend, we're still disappointed that we can't be in two places at once . . . which is our way of breaking the news that we'll be missing both Madness and the open practice. *insert unhappy face here*

But forget about us, here's another cool thing about this new season (besides the great returning players and Super Six) . . . Digital Ticketing! Tickets will now have barcodes, which means that season ticketholders will be able to transfer tickets online. So, if you find yourself in a situation similar to the one the BCs face this weekend, you'll be able to just send your tickets to a friend over the web . . . your seats will be kept warm and Comcast will remain a place to Fear the Turtle.

And speaking of Fearing the Turtle, here's an important ticket notice: tickets for Maryland's Nov. 16 "road" game at Georgetown against the Hoyas go on sale this Monday, Oct. 18th. You can buy them online via the G-town website; for more information, click here. (On Monday, the web page at that link will have a "buy tickets here" box.) Get your tickets! Let's Rock the Red at McDonough Arena!! Georgetown is the highest-ranked team the Terps will face before ACC play opens in January. An early-season win -- on the road (15 whole miles from College Park) -- would be a "Super" way for our young team to send a message that the Terps are back! We are not going to miss this one! Neither should you!

Go Terps!

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Where are they now? . . . . Longtime Mystics fans might be interested to know that "Original Mystic" Murriel Page has just joined the coaching staff at her alma mater, the University of Florida. Murriel was always one of the BCs' favorites. A consummate professional, Murriel turned up every season in shape, ready to play, and did whatever was asked of her without complaint. Those kids at Florida are lucky to have her. Congratulations and good luck to Coach Murriel!

And, speaking of new coaches (and BasketCases' favorites), we've heard that Maryland's own Jade Perry will soon be joining the coaching ranks at a local DC high school. Once we have more details, we'll be sure to pass them along. So congratulations also to Coach Jade!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Upon Further Reflection . . .

It's been four days now since we learned that the Mystics had parted company with THE BEST GM IN FRANCHISE HISTORY -- and we still have that same sick feeling in the pit of our stomachs. But now, as the days have passed, that sick feeling is sharing space with a feeling of anger. Anger at management's failure to reach an agreement with one of the team's most valuable assets; anger at the betrayal this represents of the commitment management made to fans when Angela was hired . . . a commitment that the instability, lack of long-term strategic planning, and the overall poor stewardship of the Mystics team (that had plagued the team since Day One) were finally at an end; anger at how little (and late) the fans were told; and especially, anger at how the expessions of dismay and concern from long-time, loyal, ticket-buying fans have, to the best of our knowledge, been met to date with utter and complete silence. How disrespectful. Basically, we're angry at how this whole affair has been handled (or not handled would be more accurate).

As of this writing (Tuesday morning), it is our understanding that not one word of explanation, commiseration, or even an out-of-office reply has been sent to fans who have written to the Mystics managment expressing their concern. We personally know many of the people who wrote. These are good people. Die-hard fans. Season ticketholders and others who for 13 years have used hard-earned (and in many cases very limited) discretionary dollars to support the Mystics team. That the team could not reach a "new deal" with Angela is not an explanation, it is, in our opinion, an admission of a management failure.

A number of our readers and friends have kindly shared with us the heartfelt emails they sent to Mystics management. The fact that, as far as we know, they have yet to receive the courtesy of a reply (not so much as a form letter "thank you for your concern") is another disturbing management failure. Management's unwillingness to offer any rational explanation for Angela's departure has even extended to the media. The Washington Post's Kathy Orton, who yesterday sought to find out why the Mystics had failed to re-sign THE BEST GM IN FRANCHISE HISTORY, also ran into a stone wall erected by the Mystics.

Meanwhile, this weekend, Monumental Sports, which owns the Wizards and Caps as well as the Mystics, held long-scheduled events for the fans of the other two teams. By all accounts, these were wonderful events, as they should be, and we are very happy for the fans of those teams. We don't for one second begrudge them the good time they had. But while Mystics ownership and management have been busy blogging about those wonderful events and what fun "everyone" had this weekend, nary a word (as of this writing) has appeared in their blogs about the utterly miserable weekend the fans of their other team -- the Mystics -- had. The worst weekend, as far as we are concerned, in Mystics history. Not one mention that one of their three teams just lost THE BEST GM IN FRANCHISE HISTORY. No words of commitment to that team's future stability; no words of explanation; nothing at all.

No, it seems that a cone of silence has descended over the Mystics' front office. The silence is deafening.

We think the loyal fans of this team deserve far better. We feel sick . . . and we feel angry.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Not About The $Money$

** Sunday morning update . . . Mel Greenberg, who broke the news yesterday of Angela's departure, has more on his blog today, here**

When the BCs read Dr. J's two-sentence statement this afternoon explaining that Angela Taylor was no longer with the Mystics because her contract had expired and the team could not reach "a new deal to retain her," we couldn't imagine what insurmountable stumbling block in the negotiations could have caused the Mystics to lose THE BEST GM IN FRANCHISE HISTORY. But there was one thing we truly believed . . . that it wasn't about the money.

This evening, Angela herself spoke out via Twitter, and had this to say:

Thanks 2 Mystics fans players & staff for two incredible years. I'm proud of what we were able 2 accomplish & wish u the best in the future.

For the record, I've been vested in the W for 14 years. It's never been about the money. It's about respect & doing things the right way!

So we were right. But being right doesn't make us feel one iota better. We're still sitting here depressed . . . feeling like we were sucker-punched. When Greg Bibb introduced us to Angela two years ago, we became immediate fans of the new GM. Sometimes you just sense that someone is the right person, in the right job, at the right time. We felt that about Angela. And in the 24 months since then, that feeling has been reinforced time and time and time again. We really came to like, and we really came to respect, Angela.

And now she's gone. We expect she will land on her feet, career-wise. The great ones alway do. But as for the Mystics, well, only time will tell. In our opinion, the Mystics organization has suffered yet another major loss. Just as we were beginning to put the playoff disappointment behind us and begin to look ahead to the Mystics + Alana 2011 season, we now have to cope with losing THE BEST GM IN FRANCHISE HISTORY.

We've been fans of the WNBA since before there even was a Mystics team. And, maybe we're just getting old and our memories are fading, but neither one of us can remember any WNBA team losing a successful coach or GM because they couldn't "reach an agreement" on a contract renewal. It's just unprecedented in our recollection. Until the Mystics finished first in the regular season this year, most of the "firsts" in Mystics history were things we wish we could forget. And today the list grows longer. Now, we can add this: the first time a team couldn't find a way to retain THE BEST GM IN THEIR FRANCHISE HISTORY.

For the last two seasons, we finally felt like the Mystics "got it" and that the team was on the right track. Angela was the linchpin that held it all together. We don't know anybody who didn't like -- and respect -- her.

How could this happen? We feel sick.

Angela, thank you, we will miss you.

Sadly, It's Official

A few minutes ago, the Mystics posted this statement from Sheila Johnson on their web site. This is Dr. J's statement, in its entirety:

Angela Taylor's contract has expired and we were not able to reach an agreement on a new deal to retain her as general manager of the Washington Mystics. We thank Angela for all of her hard work on behalf of the Mystics and wish her well in her future endeavors.”
The BCs are utterly depressed over this news. We don't know why contract negotiations broke down, but we are bereft at the loss of the most talented GM the franchise has ever had, gone after only two seasons. We had hoped the revolving door of Mystics management and coaches was a thing of the past, but this shocking and unfortunate news just dredges up unwelcome emotions.

We are still processing this and don't even know what to say, except that we are so grateful to Angela for the amazing job she did turning this team around in such a short time. We like her, respect her, and know that she's incredibly talented. We don't know what's next for Angela, but we are confident that she'll be successful at it. We just wish she were still here.

O-M-G!!!! Can this be . . . ????

According to the always reliable Mel Greenberg:

". . . it now appears that the likeable Angela Taylor is no longer the GM of the Washington Mystics as of sometime Friday morning."

Read Mel's full blog post here.

More later . . . but right now the BCs are still in shock. smh

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

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Update (10:40am) . . . As Mel observed, Angela is no longer listed as the GM on the Mystics' roster (and hasn't been since at least last night). In light of this, it continues to be extremely surprising that the Mystics still have made no public announcement about what is going on. And we are still in shock.