When Emma Meesseman took the floor last night at Madison Square Garden, she wasn't holding back. The six-foot-four power forward made her presence known, allowing her teammates to find her at nearly every open spot on the floor.
Within the first 30 seconds of the game, Stefanie Dolson found Meesseman just inside the three-point line for an 18-footer. Two minutes later, Meesseman sunk a shot from inside the paint. Before the end of the first quarter, the Mystics forward would hit a 24-foot jumper.
"It's kind of funny because she [Meesseman], and Stef [Stefanie] Dolson and Ally Malott have been winning a lot of our three-point contests with the guards lately," Coach Mike Thibault said.
The three-point contests have become dangerous for Washington's opponents. During last night's matchup against the New York Liberty, the Mystics were 7 of 10 from the three-point line at the half and finished 12 of 19. Meesseman shot 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
"I think that convinced Emma that she can go ahead and shoot it, that it's okay," Coach Mike Thibault said. "I think she kind of finally understands that if you shoot 35% from the three that's a nice 50% field goal percentage. I think it's become more comfortable for her."
Shooting from behind the arc isn't the only thing Meesseman has become comfortable with. The young Belgian baller has developed into a more vocal player thanks to a mid-summer practice in Washington.
In July, the Mystics were running drills when teammates began hounding Meesseman because she was not loud enough when calling out defensive coverages. That's when Dolson pulled Meesseman off the court and took her to the back of the arena to give her a lesson in basketball presence.
"She taught her how to yell," Mystics guard Kara Lawson recalled recently. "Stef would scream and then she wanted Emma to match her volume, have her say words, our coverages and yell them. Her point was just, 'Emma, I know you can scream. You just proved you can scream. You gotta have that volume on the court.'"
Meesseman, who only has 50 percent of hearing in both ears, certainly had volume on the court last night. She had six of eight field goals and led the team with eight defensive rebounds.
"We knew coming into this game that we had to work on offensive execution," Meesseman said. "We know if we really focus on [the offensive] end we can play well."
The offensive execution between Meesseman and Dolson is what broke the Liberty defensive. At 6:30 in the third quarter, Dolson saw Meesseman calling for the ball while making a cut for the basket. Without hesitation, Dolson dribbled and passed through the defender to get the ball to Meesseman for a layup. It is that type of performance that would lead Washington to an 82-55 victory over New York.
With one game left in the regular season, Meesseman is ready to carry over that same volume and intensity into the playoff season.
"Every game will be different," Meesseman said, "but [limiting] them offensively gives us the confidence to know we can do it in the playoffs too."