Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Let the Games Begin!

Tomorrow night kicks-off the two-day, fourth annual, ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with four games Wednesday evening, and seven on Thursday night. Now, if you are thinking that 4+7=11, and wondering why there are more than ten games when the ACC is facing the Big Ten Conference, that's easy. It's because there are eleven teams in the Big Ten! (Cute how they've worked that "11" into the Big Ten logo, isn't it? Look closely . . . )

With 12 teams in the ACC, though, and only 11 in the Big Ten, one of the ACC teams has to sit out the Challenge. (Just like challenges on "Survivor," when one team has more players than the other.) This year, that team is Miami, which finished at the bottom of the ACC last season. But no free pass for the ACC's 2010-11 last place team: next season, the Big Ten is adding another school, Nebraska, making it a 12-team Conference (same as the ACC). It can't change its name to the Big 12, though, as that's already taken -- by a Conference that will soon be shrinking to ten. (Hmmm, maybe they could just trade names?)

But we digress. Getting back to the Challenge . . . As Terps fans know, the ACC won each of the three prior Challenges. Maryland, in fact, is undefeated in the Challenge (as are Florida State, Virginia, Georgia Tech, and Michigan). The Terps will be putting their unbeaten Challenge record on the line Thursday at 6:30 PM, when they face a very good Purdue team on the Boilermakers' home court of Mackey Arena.

If you're not among the modest group of Maryland fans traveling to West Lafayette, you can still see the game. It's being televised on the Big Ten Network; check your local listings. (We wish the ACC had its own network.) And if you don't get BTN, you can still follow along on Gametracker.

In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the four games on Wednesday. It's the one time each year that Terps fans can actually root for all our Conference rivals! The complete schedule, along with the teams' prior Challenge records, can be found here.

Go Terps . . . Beat the Boilermakers!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wonderful news: Drey has been discharged from the hospital!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Home for from the Holiday Tournament

18 hours (give or take some) after beating the Pirates, the Terps racked up another win at ECU's Holiday Tournament, as they beat the UMass Minutemen, 82-50. Having notched victories over both of the other two tournament participants, we guess that means Maryland will be bringing home a 1st place trophy. That should a make a nice souvenir from the Terps' Thanksgiving visit to Greenville, NC.

Today's game had no video feed as far as we could tell. So once again, the BCs followed the "action" via Gametracker. Watching animations and following stats never tells you as much as actually seeing a game with your own eyes. Still, we're pretty confident in saying that the smaller Minutemen posed no real challenge for the taller, deeper and athletic line-up of Maryland.

By halftime, Maryland was leading by 20 (39-19) and two Terps were already in double figures: T-Hawk and Alyssa, both with 10 points. Alyssa, who played 27 minutes, grabbed game-high scoring honors, finishing with 15 points, plus 7 boards, 3 assists and 2 steals. Not a bad day . . . for a rookie. And T-Hawk, playing only 19 minutes, wasn't far behind: 14 points, 7 boards, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Lynetta and Diandra also scored in double figures, each with 11.

The stat sheet wasn't all rosy . . . not quite as many turnovers and fouls as against ECU, but still too many. And Maryland's 3-pt shooters haven't yet broken out of their collective slump. But we know that that can quickly change . . . it just takes a few long-balls to drop and the slump will be history. Hopefully, that will happen in the next game.

Speaking of the next game, while the Terps are now heading home to College Park, they'll only be there a short time. Just long enough for a few days' practice (and to do their laundry and pack some clean clothes). Then it's time to hit the road again. Destination: West Lafayette, Indiana, home of the Purdue Boilermakers, for one of the annual BigTen/ACC Challenge games.

It's disappointing that we won't get to see Drey. Naturally, this one had to be special for her and her old Maryland friends/teammates. But despite Drey's absence, this inter-conference challenge game should still be exciting.

Go Terps/ACC . . . Beat the Boilermakers/Big Ten!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey Day Plus One

The BCs hope everyone had a very Happy Thanksgiving yesterday. The Terps celebrated their holiday in Greenville, NC . . . and we understand they were treated to plenty of turkey with all the trimmings.

It can't be easy, after a big holiday meal, to hit the court the next day and play your best basketball. But that's what the Terps tried to do when they faced off this evening against the Pirates of East Carolina University. They succeeded in winning the game, 76-60, but perhaps didn't succeed in playing their best basketball.

We confess we didn't actually see the game. We looked for a link for a single-game, pay-per-view purchase and, not finding one, we opted to follow the "action" on Gametracker (for free). The Terps led practically the whole way, and there were some good individual performances: Lynetta (16), Alyssa (14), and Diandra (13) all finished in double figures, and Alicia was a veritable rebounding-machine, pulling down 16 boards. However, the stat-line from tonight's contest was bloated in a few categories that ought to be a bit leaner and meaner: 26 TOs and 21 PFs committed by Maryland . . . ouch!

Some people claim that an amino acid in turkey, tryptophan, makes you sleepy. So perhaps the Terps couldn't help it. Since we weren't able to actually see the game, maybe the Terps were struggling to stay awake and that accounted for some of those bloated statistics.

In any event, they won. So that's good. And it's also good that they don't have to wait long for a chance to work on their mistakes: At 1 PM tomorrow (Saturday), they meet the UMass Minutemen (Minutewomen?) in the second half of ECU's Thanksgiving tournament.

Good Luck, Terps . . . Beat UMass!

Friday update . . . Some encouraging news. Drey's condition was upgraded this morning to fair. Let's hope the good news keeps coming!

* * * * * *
A reminder for Terps fans: Maryland takes on East Carolina at 6:30pm this evening in Greenville. The game will be shown live via the East Carolina web site, link here (but you may have to pay for the web cast).

Go Terps! Beat the Pirates!

Go Drey! Get well soon!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pulling for Drey

The BCs were not looking forward to rooting against Drey Mingo, the former Terps player who's been starting (and starring) in the early non-conference season for her new team, the Purdue Boilermakers. We always liked Drey, and her transfer didn't change that.

However, with Maryland scheduled to meet Purdue on the road next week in the Big 10/ACC Challenge, we figured this would be one week we wouldn't be pulling for Drey.

But that all changed today when we learned that Drey was hospitalized, suffering from meningitis, and, as of this morning, in "critical but stable condition" according to her team's web site. Now basketball is unimportant. What is important is Drey's health. And now, we are definitely pulling for Drey to beat this disease and make a full recovery!

Drey and her teammates were supposed to fly to Cancun this morning to participate in the Caribbean Challenge. When Drey was taken ill yesterday, Purdue Coach Sharon Versyp immediately cancelled the team's plans and withdrew the Boilermakers from the Tournament. Although meningitis reportedly is not highly communicable, it is extremely serious. Drey's teammates (and others she may have come in contact with) are being treated with antibiotics as a precautionary measure.

So when Maryland tips off against Purdue next Thursday, it seems certain that we will not see Drey. But she will be (and is as we write this) in our thoughts and prayers.

Please join the BCs in pulling for Drey . . . here's hoping for her full and speedy recovery. Drey, get well soon!

* * * * * * * * *
Wednesday evening update . . . Drey's condition has been upgraded to serious but stable. The linked article makes clear just how serious this is. Drey, we are pulling for you.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What an Amazing Game!!! Congratulations, Terps!!!

The picture should give you a hint that today's most exciting game for Terps fans, in the BCs' opinion, was the one held outside at the Field Hockey Complex. That's where a standing room only crowd (10 deep!) saw the Maryland Field Hockey team win the NCAA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP in double OT, 3-2, over defending champ UNC . . . and lucky us, the BCs were on hand to witness this intense, exhausting, well-played, nailbiter of an event. As a bonus, it was played on a beautiful, sunny day, in a state-of-the-art facility on Maryland's campus. What a wonderful place to win a Natty and what a fitting way to crown a champion!

The Tarheels deserve a lot of credit for pushing Maryland's exceptional team to the limit. But we can't say enough about the Terps team. Two 35-minute halves, followed by a 15 minute OT, then followed by another OT that lasted nearly 13 minutes before Megan Frazer scored to claim the Sudden Victory for Maryland. Well done, Terps! Well done, Coach M! Another Natty for Maryland! Wow, was that ever fun!

Among the fans who packed the FH Complex were plenty of familiar faces; fans we're used to seeing indoors, at basketball games. If the Natty game had been decided in regulation, we would've had time to watch it end, cheer the Terps' trophy presentation, and still make it to Comcast for the tip-off of Maryland (basketball) versus American U. But we don't regret the extra time. As basketball fans, we know how exciting, how memorable it is to see your team win a Championship in overtime. Now we can say that double overtime is also our time.

Luckily, a special BB fan texted us about the progress of the basketball game . . . news that we of course shared with other basketball fans in the bleachers. The early scores simply reinforced for us that for edge-of-your-seat excitement, this afternoon, at least, you needed to be at the Complex, not in Comcast. While we were holding our collective breaths until the Terps FH team finally scored, the Terps basketball team was jumping on the AU Eagles early . . . and often.

By the time we made it to the basketball game (well into the first half), Maryland was already leading by 20. And, frankly, nothing happened on the court during the rest of the first half, or, for that matter, in the second 20 minutes, to threaten the Terps' substantial lead in any way. This was, as they say, an easy victory for Maryland. The highlight for us was seeing Sequoia ("Tree") Austin hit her first basket as a Terrapin . . . and a 3-pointer at that. Final score: 78-52.

Truthfully, we weren't as emotionally engaged in today's basketball game as we usually are. It was hard to change gears from a double OT National Championship win over an ACC rival at the Complex to an easy rout of a local opponent at Comcast. The best part of our basketball day actually followed the game . . . the first Rebounders' social of the season.

The Rebounders' post-game get-togethers with the team are always enjoyable, and today's was no exception. A big BCs shout-out to Jen Elkonoh for putting each of the Terps' freshmen on the clock for a little unscripted Q&A. Fun! And, as always, it was great to hear from Coach B and mingle with the players, their families and the coaches afterwards. A final note about today's game -- the victory was Coach B's 200th win at Maryland -- congratulations!!

The Terps now hit the road, heading to Greenville, NC for Thanksgiving dinner and tourney games against the University of Massachusetts and East Carolina.

So good luck to the Terps . . . Happy Thanksgiving to all . . . and CONGRATULATIONS MARYLAND FIELD HOCKEY!

Photo Credit: DCBasketCases

Friday, November 19, 2010

Playing for a Natty!

Readers of this blog may think that the BasketCases' only sports interest is basketball. Not so! Today, for example, we were avidly following the NCAA Field Hockey Final Four semi-final match between Maryland and Ohio State, being played, as fortune would have it, at Maryland. OK, we confess, we "avidly" followed it on our laptops. But, we were still "avidly" rooting for the Terps. (And for the record, one of the BCs actually played college field hockey . . . back in the day when the players weren't as coddled as they are now, and we had to carve our own hockey sticks from the limbs of nearby trees.)

And so, a little while ago, as we watched the Terps overcome an early goal by the Buckeyes to dominate their semifinal opponent and win the game, 3-1, we were thrilled. Yay! Congratulations, Terps!

Obviously, today's win means that Maryland advances to the CHAMPIONSHIP game on Sunday against . . . (drumroll please) the Tarheels, the defending NCAA champions. Whoa! So one ACC team will be adding a Natty to its trophy case this weekend (unless, of course, the winning coach shares Coach B's philosophy: that a Natty's rightful place is in the coach's office where recruits can get a closer look . . . makes sense to us!).

And here's the really cool part: the Natty game will be played at 12 noon at the Terps' Field Hockey Complex, just prior to the Terps' basketball game against American University at 2 PM at Comcast. In other words, a BIG (not to mention, convenient) double-header opportunity for fans of Maryland's GREAT women athletes.

The BCs have already bought our tickets for the NCAA Championship game (one of us will be seeing her very first live FH game . . . ever!). As of a short time ago, tickets for the NCAA Field Hockey Final were still available online (link here). So join us for this great double-header (sunny weather in the forecast!).

We'll see you at the Complex . . . then at Comcast (oh, and after the game, we'll see you at the Rebounders social with the team, cool). Sunday, Sunday, Sunday . . . what a wonderful day to be a Terps fan!!!

Go Terps FH . . . WIN A NATTY! Go Terps B-ball . . . Beat AU!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fueled by Frosh

In the first half of tonight's match-up between Towson and the Terps, we were wondering if history might repeat itself . . . whether the Tigers, who pulled off an upset last season on their home court, might steal another win from Maryland, this time in Comcast.

For well over 20 minutes, it looked to the BCs like the Terps were playing uninspired, listless, tentative basketball. The Tigers kept hanging around, while Maryland struggled to gain the upper hand. It almost seemed like they were playing not to lose . . . and anybody who's been around sports knows how successful that approach usually works out.

But about 5 minutes into the second half, everything changed. A line-up consisting of the 4 active freshmen recruits (Alyssa, Natasha, Alicia and Laurin) plus 1 sophomore for good measure, quickly and decisively turned a slim one or two possession lead into a comfortable 14-point cushion. They did it with a combination of aggressive defense (steals, blocks and disruptions) and increased offensive output. The Terps no longer looked listless or tentative. They looked like the quality athletes we know them to be.

Following that ferocious flurry of freshmen energy, Coach B made a line change . . . subbing in 5 veterans to replace the 4 frosh and Diandra. This new line-up and every subsequent combination continued to stretch Maryland's lead, showing fans that the depth of this season's roster is one of the team's greatest assets. The tired Towson Tigers simply couldn't keep up in the later part of the game. Final score: Terps win, 72-47.

Some stats of note: Three Terps finished in double figures tonight: Diandra T (12), Alyssa Thomas (10), and Tianna Hawkins (10). And two of the freshmen were busy picking the Tigers' pockets: Alyssa recorded 5 steals, while Natasha Cloud had 4. And PG Dara Taylor, who struggled at McDonough, bounced back this evening with 5 assists (and 0 turnovers!).

Next up for Maryland is the back-end of a home-and-home against American University, at 2 PM this Sunday at Comcast. Last December, as some fans no doubt remember, the Eagles hosted the Terps at Bender Arena for a game that was supposed to be one of the highlights of the AU season . . . a large crowd was expected when the two local teams tipped off against each other. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to dump two feet of snow on the city that weekend, significantly cutting down on attendance. (Officially only 331 saw the game, and that number may have included the teams, officials and bus drivers.) There's no snow in the forecast for this Sunday, so no excuses -- be there!

Go Terps . . . Beat the Eagles!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Let's Get It Started . . .

Tonight's game between the Terps and the Hoyas had all the makings of a great local rivalry.

If you've never been in McDonough Arena, it's about the size of a high school gym (and an old and small one, at that). McDonough's really uncomfortable plastic bleachers were packed this evening with fans of both teams . . . a large crowd that surpassed the crowds we've seen when Georgetown's Big East rivals UConn, Rutgers and Notre Dame are in town.

What an atmosphere! Red Maryland fans on one side; the Hoyas pep band and Gray fans on the other. Cheering, clapping, foot stomping, from both sides. The crowd was so loud and enthusiastic that more than one Terps fan commented that it felt more like a match between ACC rivals than the early season, out-of-conference game that it was.

And for now at least, the DMV bragging rights belong to the Hoyas. Georgetown topped the Terps at home, 53-45. If you didn't see it, don't let the low score fool you. This was ugly, but still a hard-fought, punch-counterpunch kind of game. And to the credit of the Hoyas, they landed the last couple of blows.

The Terps had chances . . . plenty of them. Taking nothing away from Georgetown, this, in our opinion, was a winnable game for Maryland. Nothing was falling for the visitors from beyond the arc; lay-ups and put-backs were rolling out (shooting percentages were abysmal); early foul trouble for a couple of the Terps' freshmen standouts (Alyssa and Alicia); officiating calls were all over the place (but that's nothing unusual); turnovers (particularly in the second half) came early and often. The Hoyas' aggressive style of play was responsible for much of this, but the Terps had opportunities that they squandered. Yet they still made a game of it. No quit.

The Terps have to be disappointed in tonight's performance . . . and their fans are disappointed for them. But we know this team has so much talent, and we know that tonight's loss is something they can learn from and grow from. It's only the second game of the regular season, and Georgetown was a higher-ranked and formidable opponent. So yes, we're disappointed, but also still very excited and hopeful about the rest of the season.

And we're especially excited about the possibility that Maryland-Georgetown could evolve into another great rivalry in women's college basketball. Two great schools -- practically neighbors -- battling for local supremacy each year! Wouldn't that be fun? Next year, the Hoyas will be the guest of the Terps . . . that much we know for sure. And hopefully what started tonight will become a circle-it-on-the-calendar game for many more years to come. Wouldn't that be great!

Next up: On Thursday, the Terps get an opportunity to avenge last season's embarrassing loss at Towson, when they host the Tigers at Comcast at 7 PM.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Hitting the Road

Tonight, the Terps play their first away game of the season, and the BCs are ready to hit the road along with them.

We were so excited about this game that we spent all weekend getting ready for the long road trip from our respective offices in downtown D.C. to McDonough Arena on the Georgetown campus:

We had the oil changed in our car; we rotated the tires; we stopped at the gas station for a fill-up; we topped off the windhshield wiper fluid; we cleaned the windows (inside and out); we packed plenty of water and snacks; and just for good measure, we stashed a couple of fleece blankets in the trunk. You never know what obstacles, detours, or delays you might encounter on an extended road trip!

So We Are Ready . . . and we're certain the Maryland coaches are getting the Terps ready too. Because this is a BIG (albeit non-conference) game. Anytime you take the court against a higher-ranked and nationally ranked (#13) opponent in the other team's house, that's the definition of a BIG game.

So however far you have to travel (even 12 miles from College Park!) or whatever your mode of transportation, if you're a Terps fan we hope to see you there at 7 PM tonight at McDonough Arena. Help us turn the Hoyas' home court into a Sea of Red!

Go Terps . . . Beat Georgetown!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Good Start

The Terps opened their 2010-2011 regular season today with an exclamation point, trouncing the Monmouth Hawks at Comcast, 73-40. In fact, the game was pretty much over after the opening few minutes, as Maryland got off to a very an extremely good 24-2 start, which meant that the Hawks, though they played hard and never gave up, were really just playing for second place.

The young, high-energy Terps were fun to watch, and it was clear that D-fence is a point of emphasis this season, as the Terps were all over the Hawks . . . grabbing 11 steals during the first half alone. Unfortunately, the Terps didn't take advantage of all those steals . . . to be blunt, Maryland was pretty bad at finishing in transition. Something tells us that may be a new point of emphasis in upcoming practices.

Freshman Laurin Mincy kicked off her Maryland career today with a bang, leading all scorers with 15 points. Her rookie teammate, Alyssa Thomas, was also in double figures (10), as were Lynetta Kizer and Diandra T (11 points each). And the Terps were nearly perfect from the free throw line, hitting 19 of 21 attempts. All in all, a very good start indeed!

After the game, the Terps held the first ever "Meet the Team" event for season ticket holders, hosted on the court by two of Maryland's most famous alums, Laura Harper and Marissa Coleman. We got to hear from Coach B and each member of the team, and it was pretty obvious the six freshmen are already a close knit group. The only discordant note of the day was learning that freshman Whitney Bays is going to redshirt this season. Whitney, who is working her way back from an ACL tear suffered in high school, played in the two exhibitions. No doubt she has to be disappointed that she'll only get to practice (not play in games) with her teammates this season. But with additional time to heal and get stronger, hopefully her career at Maryland will be very successful and very enjoyable.

With a home win under their belts, it's now time for the Terps to "hit the road" -- heading all the way to downtown D.C. on Tuesday at 7 PM to take on the #13-ranked (but under-publicized) Georgetown Hoyas. If preseason predictions are correct, this could be the 2nd toughest team that Maryland faces in the regular season. (The #1 toughest being a 4-letter word that we prefer not to use on this blog unless absolutely necessary.) Fan support is extemely important for the young Terps, so let's Rock the Red at McDonough!

Go Terps! Beat the Hoyas!

Opening Day Night Evening

The BCs are as happy as a couple of purple dinos right now. Why? Because at 5 PM today, the Terps' regular season kicks off at Comcast against the Monmouth Hawks.

Normally, we find the interstice between the end of the WNBA season and the beginning of the WCBB season to be a somewhat quiet, boring, time of year . . . but not this year! Oh no. Don't we wish it had been uneventful. Instead, it was filled with drama of the not fun kind. So the start of this Terps season couldn't get here fast enough for us.

And if the two exhibition games were any indication, this year's Maryland squad looks to be fully reloaded and should be a fun group to watch. The vets look fitter and more focused than we've ever seen them, and those 5 recruits . . . well, they're special. We can't wait to see them perform later today against actual D-I competition in a contest that actually counts in the standings.

So we'll be at Comcast for the 5 PM tip-off. And after the game, we definitely plan to stick around for the first-ever Meet the Terps event for season ticketholders. Should be a fun day all around (if only we didn't have laundry to do first).

Go Terps . . . Beat the Hawks!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Take a Moment

Today, Veterans Day, the BasketCases take a moment to thank all of the men and women who are now serving -- or who have served -- this country in uniform. We honor each and every one of you.

Many servicemembers, as we all know, are currently risking their lives in combat zones. And let's not forget that many servicemembers (and former servicemembers) here at home are coping with disabilities they sustained in service to our country. These are special people who have earned the right to be remembered and honored today.

Thank you . . . to all our servicemembers, past and present.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Regular Season is Just Around the Corner!

And while you wait for the Terps to tip-off on Saturday, here are a few features you may enjoy . . .

Great interview with Coach B courtesy of Columnist Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun (link here).

And another interesting article from Gene Wang of the Washington Post (link here).

Check out the Maryland preview that's part of the "12 Days of ACC Basketball" series on ACC.com (link here).

And you can listen to Coach B's interview with David Siegel on WSTR internet radio (link here).

We look forward to seeing you at Comcast, 5 PM Saturday, for the Terps' regular season opener against Monmouth University (NJ).

And we also hope to see you at Maryland's first "away" game on Tuesday . . . it's in Georgetown, just a short drive from College Park. Convenient! The Hoyas are ranked #13 in the nation. This will be a BIG test for the young (and lower-ranked) Terps team. They need our support! Tickets to the Georgetown game are only $10. You can order them online (link here) and pick them up at the box office.

Go Terps . . . Beat Monmouth!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Exhibit Exhibition B

Had this one been left up to a judge, we have no doubt a verdict would've been handed down before halftime. But, this being a basketball game, all 40 minutes had to be played before the gavel came down on this afternoon's exhibition game at Comcast between the Terps and the visiting UDC Firebirds. For the record, Maryland led at the half 52-18 and won by a final score of 121-50.

And if that score looks a little lopsided, there's no doubt it could've been more so. Case in point: Coach B waited more than 25 minutes before sending veteran center Lynetta Kizer into the game. Netta didn't see any action in the first half; she didn't start the second half. Once she got in, it seemed she was able to score at will. In a total of only 9 minutes of 2nd-half action, Netta dropped 18 points on the Firebirds. Ouch. In the first half, it was freshman Alyssa Thomas who was inflicting most of the damage: playing 11 minutes of that first 20 minute period, Alyssa scored 15 points. She saw limited action in the 2nd half, but still finished with a game-high 20 points.

We were expecting to see a somewhat closer, somewhat more competitive game today than the one against Gallaudet on Tuesday. We were wrong . . . but not disappointed. What we saw today from the Terps made us very excited about the upcoming season.

At one point during the first half, Coach B's line-up consisted of all 5 of the new freshmen recruits. All we can say is, wow! We can see why this group was ranked #2 of all incoming classes in the nation. So much talent. So much energy. So much fun to watch!

There will be plenty of much tougher opponents for the Terps to face, beginning with the first regular season game next Saturday against Monmouth . . . and, of course, the #13-ranked Hoyas at Georgetown on the 16th. So, the road begins to climb and undoubtedly will get bumpier from here on out. But having seen this young group twice now, the BCs just have a feeling this could be an especially enjoyable season to be a Terps fan.

So if you don't already have season tickets, just remember it's not too late. And, it's so afforable! Cheap prices for great seats . . . and free parking. Without question the best sports entertainment bang for your buck in the DMV.

* * * * * *
Monday morning update . . . for a full report on Sunday's game by Mel Greenberg, click here.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Mechelle "Gets" It . . .

A MUST-READ column today by well-known sportswriter Mechelle Voepel on ESPN.com.

Link Here.

A little preview of Mechelle's article . . .
Just as Bill Murray woke up again and again to the same song in "Groundhog Day," the Mystics' faithful must wonder how many more times they have to hear about a new coach/new direction for a franchise that never seems to run out of ways to pull the rug out from under them....

Although there's the fiendishly-clever twist this time of doing it after the Mystics had their most successful season ever.
And a little more . . .
It was as if the intrepid Mystics faithful had been clinging to life preservers and staying afloat all this time, and now at last, the actual ship had arrived for them to get on.

Perhaps they should have known it was too good to last.
And a final bit here. . .
...when asked about the fans' anger over lack of communication for a month, Johnson said, "It's not appropriate to sit up there and let our fans know every little move we're making. That is not good business. The fans, I hope at this point, are going to trust enough and trust in me, in our decision.

"We are doing the best we can to make the Mystics a solid and viable franchise. If we go into nit-picking and 'They should let us know every little move [they] make,' that's not appropriate, and it's not good business."

....Here's what is actually not good for business: failing to use basic communication courtesy with the fans who are spending their money to keep your franchise going. We're not even asking the Mystics to abide by the old staple, "the customer is always right." We're saying the customer is worth a return e-mail.
Oh yeah, Mechelle definitely "gets" it.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

First Impressions

When we walked through the tunnel into the Comcast Center arena for the first time since last season, the BasketCases experienced an emotion we haven't associated with basketball for the past month . . . happiness. What a relief to have some Terps basketball to watch! It may only have been an exhibition game against another local DC area university, Gallaudet, but we really enjoyed ourselves.

Many of our fellow Terps fans have already had the opportunity to see and meet the 2010-11 Maryland team up close and personal at Rebounders open practices. However, the BCs' travel schedule in October kept us from attending those always enjoyable events, so tonight was our first look at this season's team.

And what was our first impression? What a fun, energetic, and talented bunch of new and not-quite-new kids young ladies! With 6 freshmen, there were plenty of new faces. And though we knew the names (and résumés) of all of them, it took us a few minutes (and a printed roster) to begin associating all the names and numbers with the new faces of the players on the court.

The newbies showed some real skill, energy and athleticism, not to mention (of course) some also-real rookie mistakes. We think it's going to be fun watching these six mature as players, just as we enjoyed seeing the returning veterans this evening.

And speaking of the vets -- the Terps are in incredible shape! Collectively, it's obvious they've lost a good deal of weight over the summer, we heard 70 pounds mentioned --- the weight of an entire (though small) human being. They look leaner and meaner fitter than last season. (Not to mention that their Coach looks unbelievably fit and trim.) Fortunately, the exception to all this weight loss was Essence Townsend, who reportedly gained 18 pounds since we last saw her. We confess, though, she is so vertically-endowed that it's almost impossible for the naked eye to see any difference. But it is pretty obvious this is a Terps team designed to get up and down the floor quickly, with a bench deep enough to keep up a really fast pace. Should be a fun team to watch!

Tonight's game was an exhibition, so it doesn't count in either team's win-loss column. For the record, though, the Terps won, 90-37. The Gallaudet Bison played with heart and enthusiasm, but were simply no match for the much bigger, faster, and more athletic Terps. Gallaudet had a good turnout of fans supporting their team . . . always nice to see (unless we're playing Duke).

The Terps have one more exhibition game before the non-conference part of their real schedule begins. Maryland faces another local team, the UDC Firebirds, this Sunday at 2 PM. We'll be there . . . and we hope to see you at Comcast!

Monday, November 01, 2010

It Would be an Understatement to say that the BCs were totally stunned by today's news that Julie Plank, the most successful coach in Mystics history, is now, like Angela Taylor -- the most successful GM in Mystics history -- no longer a part of the team. We have spent the afternoon and evening in utter disbelief. A mere two months after Sheila Johnson publicly praised Angela and Julie as the "geniuses" who were years ahead of her five-year plan for the Mystics' success, both are gone. And why?

Well, according to reports of the media teleconference that Ms. Johnson held this afternoon, this is what happened.

Plan A: Sheila asked Angela to work for less money. Angela declined. Goodbye Angela.

Plan B: Sheila immediately asked Julie, whose extensive basketball career has been spent entirely as a coach, to take on the significant (and different) responsibilities of being the GM as well as continuing to serve as Head Coach. Julie declined. Sheila spent a few weeks trying to get Julie to change her mind, but failed. Goodbye Julie.

Plan C: Sheila asked Trudi Lacey to take on both jobs, and Trudi accepted, thus becoming the 12th Mystics coach in 14 seasons. Hello Trudi.

According to Sheila, getting rid of the most successful GM and the most successful Head Coach in franchise history was just business:

"We had to make some cost changes. Even though we were successful on the floor, you have to understand, we weren't successful on the business side. We just have to make these changes in order to keep the franchise alive."

Of course, "success on the business side" was not part of Angela's job description, nor Julie's, except to the extent that they were responsible for putting the best possible product on the floor to be marketed to fans and sponsors. And as far as that was concerned, they were extraordinarily successful. And yet, they are both gone.

Reading the transcripts of Sheila's press call, she seems pretty oblivious to what it means to be a longtime fan of this team. A team that had been mired in mediocrity (or worse) for years and years, thanks in large measure to a constantly revolving door of coaches and GMs . . . and a consequent instability in management that precluded success on the court. She also seems oblivious to the emotional commitment that comes with being a longtime fan (along with the fan's financial investment).

And so we've concluded that she just doesn't "get" the disbelief that so many of us feel about what has happened in the past month to a team -- our team. A team that after more than a decade finally seemed to be on the right track . . . but now (again) has been derailed. (And we do not mean to imply any disrespect to Trudi Lacey, but there was no compelling reason at this point to change the GM or Head Coach.)

As you our readers know, we were incredibly upset over the news about Angela Taylor. Now, hearing about the loss of Julie, we are simply numb. Why should we continue to be emotionally invested in this franchise? We were told when Angela and Julie were hired that this time it would be different, but as with Charlie Brown, the ball still just keeps getting snatched away. Why should we continue to invest our money and emotions, only to be disappointed time and time again? Those are the questions we have been asking ourselves today. Frankly, right now, we just don't think we have it in ourselves any longer to care . . . certainly not to the extent we did. Congratulations, Mystics Front Office. Your business acumen has succeeded in driving a wedge between your product and your heretofore most loyal customers. A few months ago, we would've said such a thing was impossible. You proved us wrong.

To Julie Plank, we say thank you, thank you, thank you . . . for an incredible two years, for so much fun, and for so much hope. We wish you well in whatever life now brings your way. (And given what we've seen of your abilities at the Phone Booth, we know that any team -- professional or college -- would be so fortunate to have you on their bench.) You will be missed.

* * * * * * *

Tuesday morning update . . . Hall of Famer Mel Greenberg takes the gloves off in his must-read analysis of the Mystics' "business" move here, the Washington Post's Kathy Orton, who yesterday posted a transcript of Ms. Johnson's teleconference (linked above), has an article here, and Milton Kent's summary of what transpired is here.

First, Angela Taylor Gone . . . Now, Julie Plank Gone . . . Trudi Lacey Promoted to GM/Head Coach.

This has all the makings of a great soap opera (if only it were happening on television). Quite frankly, the BasketCases are speechless. It's hard to compose a blog post when you're busy shaking your head in utter disbelief. Perhaps later we'll settle down enough to write something.

For now, here's the "official" word from the Mystics' own website:

Monumental Sports & Entertainment vice chairman and Mystics presidentand managing partner, Sheila C. Johnson announced today that Trudi Lacey has been named the team’s general manager and head coach. Lacey joined the team in2009 as an assistant coach. In 2010 she was promoted to director of basketball operations. She replaces Angela Taylor whose contract recently expired and Julie Plank who will not return to the team.

“We appreciate the patience of our fans as we moved through this process. We were in discussion with Julie about a joint gm/coach role as well as our philosophy moving forward. Julie only wanted to coach the team and both sides agreed to part ways. I am excited to have Trudi Lacey as our general manager and head coach. She is a leader that brings a great deal of experience to her new position, having previously served as the general manager and head coach of the Charlotte Sting. She is very familiar with our team as she has been part of our organization for the last two years. We had a fantastic season and our fan support was tremendous. All of us are excited to begin 2011. Our franchise is 100% committed to taking the next step, and we are excited to have our fans take it with us,” stated Johnson.

Lacey brings a wealth of experience to her new position. She was the head coach and general manager of the Charlotte Sting from 2003-2006 and has had coaching stints at the University of Maryland, the University of South Florida, NAIA Francis Marion College, Manhattan College and James Madison University. She recently was the head coach at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina.

"I would like to thank Ted Leonsis, Sheila Johnson and the entire Mystics organization for the opportunity to coach an extraordinary group of young ladies in front of the best fans in the WNBA,” said Lacey. “We will continue to work hard to continue to build on the success of the past two seasons."

She played for the legendary Kay Yow at North Carolina State University where she was an All-America basketball player. Her jersey was retired by the school in 2000, and she was named to the ACC All-Legend Team. She was a key contributor with USA Basketball working with the gold medal men’s and women’s basketball teams at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases (August 22, 2010)