Well, Saturday's game between the Mystics and the Shock was quite a disappointment. It's not the result, but the fact that the Mystics played very badly. For the Shock, the team doesn't have much talent, but I think that the players have a chip on their shoulders and they won't just fold mentally. This will pay off in the long run for this season, and beyond.
Here are some thoughts I have from the game yesterday which are kind of random. I'm not happy overall, and I'm sorry if I rant a bit.
1. The Mystics must depend on their "Big Three" of Crystal Langhorne, Monique Currie, and Matee Ajavon to have good games in order to win. Where is everyone else?
As expected, all three players have played relatively well so far, and I want to make sure that I make a point of that again.
In the last game, Lang and Mo scored 30 of DC's 57 points. After Ashley Robinson's and Jasmine's combined 16 points, no one scored more than 5.
In this game, the Big Three scored 48 of DC's 64 points. That's 75% of the points from three players. After Ashley Robinson chipped in 6, no one made more than 4 points. They grabbed a combine 19 boards, and dished 8 assists as well. The Mystics had 40 individual rebounds, and 14 assists respectively.
This is not good. Considering the fact that the team's acquisitions are made up of mostly fringe veterans from other teams, none of them particularly known for scoring, that means that the Big Three must have good games in order to win games. Considering that they had good games on the scoring end, but not particularly stellar games, what does this mean when the Styx plays the Minnesota Lynx on Wednesday? Or the Indiana Fever? Or almost any team really?
If the Mystics expect to win at least 10 games this season, let alone winning six, at least two more players need to be actively looking for and making buckets consistently!!
Should this trend continue when no one else can make at least 10 points in any single game, the next exciting basketball event at Verizon Center will be on June 28 for the NBA Draft party, and the next exciting basketball game at Verizon Center will be on July 16 at 5:30 when Team USA plays. After that will be the Wizards' preseason opener when I get to see a full year of John Wall and Nene. Seriously!
2. The Mystics are prone to turning the ball over.
This is obvious. 23 total TO's in game 1, 32 TO's in this past game. I get that in basketball, the ball's gonna be turned over a number of times. But the Mystics have made many unforced TO's in their two regular season games thus far. In particular, I've seen that the Styx have issues playing when trapped.
A veteran roster, even those made up of journeymen should not be making as many unforced turnovers like I have seen from the Mystics so far. 30 is unacceptable in ANY LEVEL of basketball! Period!
3. We Want Nasty! Especially when everyone else is playing Nasty!
Natalie Novosel was hired to fill in a three point shooting need and add some hustle. So far, she played five minutes and 43 seconds with no other stats worth mentioning (she had none) against Chicago and earned her first DNP-Coach's Decision against Tulsa, a young team......
On a team that is building for long term success, youth needs to be utilized a lot, and she is the only rookie to remain on the roster after LaSondra Barrett was escorted out of Verizon Center at the end of training camp by security (okay, that's an exaggeration). Given what happened to Ta'Shia Phillips last year, looks like Nasty will get the nasty exit by Olympic break if these DNP's continue.
And that's making me feel... nasty. I get that Georgetown University is a rival of the University of Notre Dame, athletically, and also academically for best Catholic University in the US, but no one from the team is from Georgetown, or Notre Dame, unless you want to count Mystics owner Ted Leonsis, who is a Georgetown alum.. I bet other Monumental Sports business employees are Georgetown alums too, but they won't have any say on who comes to the team, let's be honest there.
But that can't be why she's on the bench right? College rivalries didn't stop the Mystics from acquiring many Duke alumnae in the past. It just has to be that the collective vet experience of Dominique Canty, Michelle Snow and A-Rob is just too irresistible and valuable for Nat to get some burn. That's the only conclusion that makes sense to me.
Really Coach, let the lady play and let her fail if nothing else! Please! Former Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni gave his 12th man on the bench a chance, and his play ultimately helped the Knicks get to the playoffs. Just a thought.
4. The Mystics will grab rebounds and more rebounds, but what's the point if their offense is bad?
I don't have any advanced stats on rebounds and putback point stats after such rebounds. This is just from observation and feel of the game. Since Lacey took over as HC and GM, she has acquired a number of taller and bigger players in order to build a squad that will grab boards. If there's one thing going right for the Mystics, they have outrebounded their opponents every game this season. However, they aren't shooting at a particularly high percentage, and like my first observation, the Mystics have no semblance of any offense after the big three. They're not producing points.
I know there's a saying that defense wins championships. But what's the point of defense, if a team can hold a team to low points and shooting percentage, but can't score itself? The Mystics' FG%age defense was good, but offensively, they couldn't do anything themselves in the fourth quarter when they should have closed the game out.
5. This isn't directly related to the basketball itself, but with the marketing of the team's 15th season.
To me, it seems that Monumental Sports thinks that I should just be happy there's a team in DC for a 15th year in business, rather than that the team is aggressively trying to build a good team in the long run and that the team already has good players right now, including the big three. Coach Lacey may or may not be building the team the right way, but I can agree that she is trying aggressively to right the ship from last year.
I also question why Ashley Robinson is being marketed seemingly more than any other Mystic player. What is up with that? I get that A-Rob has been a class act since being traded from greener pastures (literally and figuratively). She certainly was a class act according to everyone around her, but the Mystics are making it seem that she is a savior because she played on the 2010 Storm team, which she played spot minutes on. I have no problem with A-Rob at all on the team, don't get me wrong. But it seems to me that ownership wants me to think that A-Rob is our Lauren Jackson or our Nene. Good luck convincing me.
All of the ads and promotions I have seen including the "Congratulations Mystics" video have been just that. Celebrating 15 years of basketball, and most of those years were bad. When the only promotions for the Mystics are just for celebrating 15 years of being in business, it is treating the team as a novelty, which WNBA President Laurel Richie explicitly stated that she DID NOT WANT!!!!
I don't see the Wizards or Caps celebrating their anniversaries in business at all. Wiz and Caps fans (including me) would rather celebrate basketball and hockey accomplishments respectively, such as the 1978 NBA championship, or the 1998 NHL Eastern Conference Championship. They also just play to win, whether they're successful or not. I think most Mystics fans, and even others interested in women's basketball would want the same for the Mystics.
So, where are the aggressive ads to highlight the team's play like a physical Langhorne putback, a Mo Currie stepback J, or a Matee Ajavon crossover and drive to the hoop for an and one? Hell, even when John Wall or Mike Green say congrats, I still don't even hear a shout out to any current players, which could at least show that they're supportive of the product on the court too! The only time I see any highlight plays are in the intro video!!!
These previous notes may sound a bit irrational or maybe I'm just looking for something to spew my wrath on, but I just don't feel right about the marketing of the team right now.
I'm not happy with the Mystics right now. But at the same time, they are 1-1 right now, so perhaps I'm just full of hot air. I know a lot of fans are calling for Lacey's head already, but I am withholding my opinion on that issue for now, because I want to see how this team develops over the next few games and see how the Big Three and their supporting cast develops.
Nevertheless, I still believe that there should have been more younger players on this team. Veteran leadership is already here in DC, and that starts with the Big Three. They were here when the Mystics had their 22-12 season in 2010 that just happened to be the best summer I ever had as a basketball fan. I only hope I can relive another great basketball season soon in DC, and hopefully with both of the local hoops teams, as well as the local hockey team that all wear Monumental Red.
UPDATE: If you watched Game 1 between the Spurs and Thunder for the NBA Western Conference Finals, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said to his guys in the 2nd half that "he wanted some NASTY!" It's likely a coincidence (though you never know), but it's safe to say that the Spurs played with Novosel's brand of nasty, rather than the overall Mystics' brand of nasty, to close out the game after falling behind to OKC. This goes especially for Manu Ginobili, and Gary Neal also made some timely threes too.