Last night, I attended a season ticket holder event for the Mystics, and I saw many familiar STH faces for the local WNBA team. At this event, the team hosted a dinner, as well as a Q&A session with Head Coach and GM Trudi Lacey.
Some opening thoughts on Mystics events this offseason
It is still in the middle of the offseason right now for the WNBA. I can't say what events the other 11 teams do for their season ticket holders, but the Mystics have had a regular flow of events during the long season. Since their last game on September 10, I can list at least five dedicated Mystics events, after looking at a stream of emails sent from Monumental Sports:
- Monday, September 12, 2011: Dinner for Season Ticket Holders who renewed for 2012 at the Verizon Center's Acela Club. Most of the team came, Coach Lacey gave some remarks, and there was some good mac and cheese.
- Saturday September 24, 2011: The Mystics host Inova Get Movin' Family Fun Day at Leesburg Airport in Leesburg, Virginia, which is a suburb about 40 miles northwest of Chinatown. A lot of people came to this event, but it could have been bigger if Wizards players came to sign autographs, but the lockout was on then, so the Wizard Girls were the next best thing.
- Friday, November 18, 2011: On Mickey Mouse's birthday, the Mystics hosted "Coffee with the Coach" with Trudi Lacey. I didn't go, but it was nice that they'd give STH's the opportunity for more one on one convos with the coach during the offseason. A little over week later, David and Billy got really tired of playing cat and mouse, so they shook hands (just look at how drained these guys were). Just had to throw it out there.
- Friday, December 30, 2011: The Mystics offered a discount deal to see the George Washington Colonials face off against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. So it wasn't free and it wasn't surprising that the Colonials lost, but still an event nonetheless.
- Tuesday, January 10, 2012: The Mystics had a Season Ticket Holder appreciation night, which was in the form of some center court seats for the Wizards game against the Raptors. Wizards win! At the same time, this was the infamous game when tickets were selling for 30 cents a piece on StubHub, and Ted Leonsis had to address the issue.
Safe to say that despite all the criticism that Monumental Sports gets about the performance of the WNBA team, you can't say that Monumental isn't keeping STH's in the loop and having events for them either. I expect more events as the offseason progresses.
The Event Last Night
In short, the team provided dinner for the STH's, I'd have to say over 100 people came to the Dewar's Club which is near the Acela Club at Verizon Center. There were hot dogs, and some really good buffalo chicken dip along with some breads and chips. Coach Lacey and new Mystics center Ashley Robinson were there and spoke with fans. First thing we saw was a pre-recorded video from Crystal Langhorne who said she's glad to have re-signed with DC and wants to win a championship here.
There was a Q&A with both Lacey and A-Rob. Here were some notable things that they talked about. First with Lacey:
- Coach Lacey stated that Mo is re-signed. No surprise.
- Lacey wants the team to play up-tempo and improve its rebounding. The acquisitions of Michelle Snow, A-Rob, Ashley Walker, and Laura Harper are all intended for that purpose.
- Assistant coach Marianne Stanley is back with the team and she will be there with Jennifer Gillom.
- Most of the questions asked were not critical at all, but then again, most, if not all of the STH's there renewed already.
- One question was critical of the franchise, and I will point it out. A STH asked Coach Lacey if she intends on keeping her draft picks and intends to play them. The STH went on to say that she didn't want to see our draft picks not playing much in DC, get shipped off elsewhere, and then "when they come back and play us, they kick our butt." This was the best question to me for the night. Lacey responded by showing an analogy to driving a car on a road trip. She says the rear view mirror is small for a reason, and that she doesn't look back on the past and only moves forward. That said, she also said that the draft picks were expected to be contributors to this team. Needless to say, after that question, there weren't any more overly critical questions asked.
As with A-Rob, here was what I noticed.
- Ashley gave her public statement saying that she was excited to play for the Washington Mystics and for DC.
- She also mentioned about the 2010 Seattle Storm team that won the whole thing. The story was that in the preseason, Seattle was basically counted out that season from winning the championship. Then each of the Big Three (Sue, Lauren, and Swin) basically told the others, "I know how to win a championship, and I'm going to take you there with me." Sure enough, the Storm was the best team in the WNBA that year. A-Rob says that this is the type of mentality that she will bring to DC. Speaking about being counted out I could basically say the same thing about the 2010 Mystics, but I digress.
- A-Rob did answer questions regarding Coach Summitt and her early onset of Alzheimer's.
About Negative Perceptions of the WNBA
Both Lacey and Robinson answered questions about the WNBA being taken for as a joke and what they would do to change those perceptions. They said that they just have to continue being professionals and praise the maturity of the players. Christy Winters-Scott, the color analyst for the team said to the effect that at least locally, the Mystics need to be marketed as great women role models and professionals and respect them as such.
I sort of disagree here because it seems that the Mystics would rather promote women role models than the promise of hope for a better future on the court. I don't want to watch a basketball team because the players are good role models and act as professionals. That is already assumed for me. I just want to see a competent team first, and the players to be mature professionals. The Mystics appear to pass in the latter, especially when the Wizards have some of the least fundamental players in the NBA, like Andray Blatche who wants a triple double at all costs and JaVale McGee who will do anything to dunk, he oops to himself when the team has one win, and plays defense when he shouldn't. Then again, it's the Wizards we're talking about here.
Still, the Mystics are going nowhere on the court when they try to market role models and the 40th Anniversary of Title IX over a team that could have promise this year if Lacey builds it right. The most important thing is to put a competent team that can build toward something good, and that is what will make me and every other Mystics fan happy.