2005 In Review:
What Went Right?
Well, let's start at the top as the Mystics franchise made history last season. Sheila Johnson became the first African-American woman to become the owner of a major professional sports franchise when she completed a purchase for the team May 24, 2005.
As you can see, stability and the Mystics have not gone hand-in-hand. Let's put it this way: if Adubato and the Mystics win 11 games this year, Adubato will become the all-time winningest Mystics coach in just his second season.
But with Johnson at the franchise's helm off the floor and Adubato directing the Mystics on it, Washington now has the cornerstones in place for the future.
What about the team itself? Glad you asked. In Alana Beard, they have a rising star. In the newly acquired Nikki Teasley, they have a point guard with championship mettle. DeLisha Milton-Jones is also finals tested and one of the better rebounding forwards in the league. With Chasity Melvin, they have a center that averages 11.7 ppg and 5.4 rpg.
So, with a solid core on the floor and a team one year older and wiser after missing the playoffs on a tie-breaker, things could break the Mystics way this season.
What Went Wrong?
Closing out the season 4-6, including an ugly five-game skid and losing a tie-breaker to the Detroit Shock (based on record against conference foes) is not the way to close out a potential breakthrough season.
The end of the season stumble, and one game in particular, exposed the Mystics' most troubling areas last season. In a disastrous 81-47 loss, which sealed the Mystics' post-season fate, to the eventual Eastern Conference champion Connecticut Sun, the Mystics shot just .292 from the field and was outrebounded 43-27, all the while letting the Sun shoot .478.
At 27.7 boards per game, the Mystics were the second worst rebounding team in the league and allowed opponents to shoot .445 from the field, also second worst in the league. Rebounding and defense are the cornerstones of any championship team. If the Mystics have championship aspirations, they'll need to address these concerns, but quick.
Looking Ahead To 2006:
"Nikki brings championship experience to the Mystics," Mystics GM Linda Hargrove "She is an athletic six foot point guard who has proven herself on every level and she's a local product." The Mystics also added a name from the past: Latasha Byears. The former Sparks' power forward has been out of the WNBA since 2003, but played on a title team with L.A. Byears has 1030 career boards, good for 23rd overall in league history.
The Mystics also have the No. 8 overall pick in the WNBA Draft. Adubato and the Mystics are looking to two areas specifically.
"We felt a glaring weakness we had was at the 3, where we tried to convert DeLisha Milton from a 4 to a 3," Adubato said in a chat last December. "Also Muriel Page and Charlotte Smith-Taylor are both 4-3 type players. But we need a natural 3 player. We're looking at the draft, with the No. 5 pick and free agency in improving this area."