Mystics lost, 78-62 to the Tulsa Shock. On top of that the team failed to lead in scoring for any single quarter, and were outrebounded in this game 30-34, and outrebounded on the offensive glass 6-12. They were essentially beat at their own game strategy! Here's the recap from the Association here.
After the jump, I have some thoughts about where this team stands as it heads into the break.
1. Paid Mystics attendance is dwindling during the course of this season and has dropped from last season.
|8-Jun||New York||9108||Girl Scouts|
|8833||Average over 9 games so far|
Here are the home games for the Mystics this year that have been played so far. Out of 9 games, the Mystics have had an average of 8833 seats paid for (one way or another) per game. Here are the attendance stats for last season:
|10760||Average After 9 GAMES (thru NY game on 8/6/11)|
Based on these stats, the Mystics as of now are experiencing a 17.9% drop in paid attendance compared with last year's average of 10760 after 9 games. Note that one of the 9 games last year was the kiddie game vs. Atlanta. Either way, this tells me that fewer people want to pay to see Mystics games and it is quite possible that many Mystics season ticket holders did not renew from 2011 to 2012, if not probable. I don't want to speculate too much on this year's numbers, but it appears that fewer people want to see Mystics games as the season went on this season (hence the downward trend).
Of their last four games, the only game to eclipse the 10,000 barrier was the Phoenix game, and that was because it was Title IX day. The next home game for the Mystics is the kiddie game vs. Connecticut on Tuesday, so it's safe to say that there will be over 10,000 people then because of the campers. But who knows what the rest of the games' stats will look like, especially after Olympic break is over.
Obviously from looking at Mystics games for each of the last two seasons, we never saw 10,000 people go to any game last year. Note that these stats are paid attendance, not butts in seats...
2. The Mystics facebook page just seems to be really really negative.
It is nice to see that fans are still posting on the team's facebook page, but the vast majority of comments after each Mystics loss are obviously and deservedly negative. At least this shows that fans are still caring to say something. The worst thing fans can do to the Mystics is walk away and be indifferent. Obviously there are some fans who are still posting "keep your spirits up ladies" no matter what the result is, but even they have to agree that this team is not headed in the right direction.
3. I am not the only Mystics fan who is spending his time and energy on the team by writing thoughts online.
Though the DC BasketCases may not be Mystics fans anymore, even they wrote another post earlier last night that for the most part concurs with things I have said and noticed over the past several games!
Other fans are making their voices heard too. One Mystics fan made a facebook site called "Save the Mystics", which can be found here. It is just a day old, and I'm sure that fans of other teams not named the Mystics certainly would be more than welcome to join that site because the Mystics and Washington DC certainly deserves to have a well run WNBA team, just like a city in Washington State does. Sure, a good Mystics team in the future means that another team must be worse, but at the same time, a well run Mystics franchise is good for every franchise in the WNBA, and the way the Mystics are being run makes the rest of the league look bad, and a league that can't be taken seriously.
4. Fans feel that Monumental Sports wants to fold the team or relocate it.
I don't know if I've posted anything on this in a FanPost though I have commented on it, but here goes and I will go into detail here.
Many Mystics fans believe that ownership wants to fold the team so it can focus fully on the Wizards and Capitals or relocate the team kind of like how Detroit shipped the Shock out to Tulsa so that ownership can focus on the "two teams that matter": the Wizards and the Capitals. A lot of fans also speculate that Coach Lacey was hired to run the team to the ground to tune the fans out and then make it easier for the owners to fold or sell it off. After all, Lacey coached and was the GM for the Charlotte Sting from 2003 to 2005 as coach and GM from 2003-2007 when it folded. I think it's a great conspiracy theory, but this is circumstantial.
Why would Trudi Lacey want to run a franchise into the ground intentionally and then lose her job? That doesn't make sense to me, unless there's a behind the scenes agreement she made with Sheila Johnson and Ted Leonsis to be a community spokesman or special coordinator for the Wizards after the team is out of her hands, and that is also probably absurd, because it is.
I also don't see why the team would fold or relocate because it has a jersey sponsor as well and there doesn't seem to be any indication that Inova Health will pull the sponsorship solely because the Mystics are currently being run like a novelty act.
WNBA President Laurel Richie has been very vocal about the fact that she is committed to the stability of the 12 teams in the league right now and happy with that number. I have heard it from her at the Verizon Center TWICE, once last year and once this year. I just don't see that the Mystics are going to fold under any circumstances under her watch, which means that something else will happen: relocation or selling to new local ownership.
I'll hit the latter point first. Are the Mystics in a possibly better situation than they are right now with Monumental Sports if they are in DC, but under a smaller ownership group, like Force 10 Hoops of Seattle? I will say no. The Mystics currently own the Verizon Center and don't have to pay rent. In addition they will have scheduling priority over concerts, etc. and their playoff games won't be relegated elsewhere. Note that in 2009, when Ted didn't have full Verizon Center ownership, the Mystics had to play its playoff game in the Comcast Center in College Park, Maryland. He was unhappy about that because that minimized the Mystics' home court advantage.
Any new owner of the Mystics and who keeps them in DC would have to pay rent to someone. If they remained at Verizon Center, they will probably get bounced out of there when the Caps and Wizards make the playoffs and advance deep in them, not to mention playoff games may get bounced out of there too because other events are scheduled. Also, if the Mystics moved to another arena, it will probably not be in a central DC location like the Verizon Center is and that will negatively affect the season ticket holder base, like what happened to the Libs in their temporary relocation to Newark. The aforementioned Comcast Center is in Maryland and is not geographically friendly to fans in Northern Virginia. The Mystics could play in the much smaller 10,000 seat Patriot Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and close to a very backed up interstate during evening rush hour so the Maryland and DC fanbases are negatively affected. Not to mention, Monumental Sports operates the facility too. The DC Armory is the closest central facility that the Mystics could play at, but it is smaller (10,000), and a clearly older facility. Really, Verizon Center is the only logical option for them regardless of who owns the Mystics if they stay in DC.
I would think that relocation is the best route if Monumental Sports doesn't want the Mystics anymore. The Bay Area has been an area that many believe is ready to fully support a WNBA team and also a market where players want to live in. In addition Joe Lacob, the owner of the Golden State Warriors is building a new arena in San Francisco and he was a major investor in the now defunct ABL. I don't want to speculate that Monumental is in negotiations to sell the Mystics to Lacob, but I would imagine that he will take a team if one became available.
Despite all of this, I still believe that ownership wants to keep the Mystics here and they want to own the team even though it appears on the surface that they are fine with the team as a novelty act for the Wizards rather than as a real team. First, this is Washington DC, one of the largest markets in the US, and also a city that believes it deserves to have a franchise in pretty much every sport, and this team can and will be supported when it is headed in the right direction. Look at the Lynx now! Second, the Team USA doubleheader is next week, and both the men's and women's teams are playing here. I don't think that USA Basketball nor the NBA would want Monumental Sports to host this event if they were seriously planning on folding or selling the Mystics to an out of towner, even though crazier things have happened before, especially with the Mystics.
5. Is Ted ready to make a move for the benefit of the Mystics and their fans? He may be, and that should be good news.
This ties with point #2. One fan commented on the team's facebook page saying that he emailed Ted about his displeasure with the Mystics and that Ted replied back saying that he too is unhappy with the entire situation and aware of everything. Well, knowing the way Ted Leonsis is, I would imagine that if he is going to act in the best interest of Mystics fans, he may very well make some changes himself because quite honestly, Sheila Johnson doesn't appear to be responding or doing anything to rectify the disconnect between the on court product, the franchise direction and the fans.
Like what the BasketCases wrote in their latest post, I also agree that Sheila Johnson should no longer be responsible for the front office of this team. The same also goes for Wizards/Mystics business chief Greg Bibb, though I don't think the buck ever stopped with with him in the first place even though or if Lacey reports to him, which is why I've never really brought him into this anyway.
All of these team strategy things all must go through Ted.
All three Monumental Sports teams need to have the same strategic direction as to how they intend on winning a big silver cup, a gold basketball on a big platform that kind of looks like a cross section of a basketball net, or a platinum basketball on three poles. It is clear that the Mystics strategic direction is NOT on the same guidelines like the Wizards and Capitals are after seeing what I've seen over the last couple seasons.
I really hope Ted does something during the break at latest, because the status quo is unacceptable, and it's on him to do what is right, because I don't have any faith in Sheila Johnson making that call.
Long post. As you can tell, I'm not happy with the Mystics right now. But the issues on the basketball court, and even this loss against the Shock are quite frankly secondary compared with the overall way the franchise has been run the last couple of years and really for most of the franchise's 15 year history minus the Angela Taylor and Julie Plank regime.
It is sad that the Mystics are the only team that has lasted 10 years or more and has not made the Finals at least once. Sure, a lot of it is because the right draft pick didn't come to DC instead of Seattle or Phoenix or Atlanta, but a lot of it is because the organization never committed to a solid coaching and front office staff for the long term as well and this is more controllable.
Someone, anyone! Save the Mystics!