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2010 Training Camp Update

Thursday, May 13th

During today’s training camp there was no room for error. With the regular season scheduled to begin in 48 hours, the players made some of their final impressions on the Mystics coaching staff and front office. General Manager Angela Taylor, who observed practice today, knows that she has a tough 24 hours ahead of her.

“Early on in camp we realized that with players coming back late, that we were going to try to take every last second to really evaluate each of the players and give them all a fair chance to take a solid look and see who will comprise our roster,” said Taylor. “We’ll take a look at today’s practice and one more practice tomorrow before we head out on the road to Indiana to really decide on who our 11 players will be on the roster.”

“I think some players have stepped up and played well and now we’re just looking at different combinations; who plays well together, who’s versatile, who can play at the defensive end, and who can help us offensively,” she added.

Some new additions to training camp today included guard Ashley Houts who was acquired through a trade that sent Nikki Blue to the New York Liberty, as well as guard Matee Ajavon who returned yesterday from her overseas commitment in Turkey. Ajavon was a member of the Fenerbahce team that won their fourth consecutive Turkish Championship.

Practice today was extremely intense, not only because the players were competing for final roster spots, but also because the team has a back-to-back road trip against two major opponents. On Saturday the Mystics will face the Eastern Conference Champion Indiana Fever squad, followed by a game against the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday.

Well Mystics fans, that’s the end of this season’s training camp updates. We hope to see you all next Friday at the Mystics home opener against the New York Liberty!

Wednesday, May 12th

Today’s training camp featured a new face, yet a familiar voice among the Washington D.C. community. WPGC 95.5 radio disc jockey “Big Tigger”, host of the Big Tigger Morning Show, was one of the guys who matched up against the Mystics players during practice.

The Mystics opened practice by taking it to the drawing board and reviewing some of their plays. Afterwards, the team ran through a 10-minute scrimmage with the guys playing defense against them. Plank yelled to the male opponents, “Keep double teaming. Keep trapping them, guys.” During a brief water break, Mystics guard/forward Monique Currie urged her teammates to keep taking care of the ball. “Don’t let them make us rush,” she said.

After the break, the team began working on their defensive stops. They were split into three different groups -- the white team, the black team, and the red team. The teams were not allowed to switch out until they completed two defensive stops against the guys.

The team then began practice drills focusing on their post moves as well as shooting the ball from the top of the key.

With only two days left of training camp until the regular season tips off, the competition for those final roster spots is definitely heating up. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s final training camp update!

Friday, May 7th

After their first preseason game this past Wednesday, the Washington Mystics took Thursday off to look at film from their 65-60 win over the New York Liberty. The Mystics have been practicing nonstop since the opening of training camp on April 25, so a day to give their legs some rest was greatly appreciated by the players.

Today, however, the Mystics took to the practice court again in preparation for their next preseason game against the Atlanta Dream which takes place on Sunday.

Mystics forward Carla Thomas made her first training camp appearance after returning from her overseas commitment in Croatia.

Guard Nikki Blue was very vocal on the court, making her presence not only felt, but strongly heard as well. Blue showed her quickness and her ability to create plays and be a leader and motivator on the court.

The Mystics ran five-on-five plays against the guys as Coach Plank told the guys to overplay and really give the Mystics team some tough defense. Forward Nakia Sanford was able to show her strength in the post against the guys and make some baskets.

While running the plays, Plank emphasized more off-ball movement. “The person with the ball does not need to be the only one moving. Don’t just stand there and be denied,” she said. Plank also mentioned that there should be less dribbling. “We’re dribbling too much. Make a decision,” she added.

The Mystics then ran their defense against the guys. At this point, both Plank and Director of Scouting, Trudi Lacey, told the team that they needed to be more vocal on the court and really talk to each other.

Other notes: First round draft pick, Jacinta Monroe, spent much of practice working on her strength and conditioning while observing her Mystics teammates.

Monday, May 3rd

After a long media day on Friday, the Mystics switched out the makeup and pumps for their jerseys and sneakers as they prepared for another day of training camp. Coach Plank changed the practice time from 4-7pm to 3pm-6pm instead to let some of the players who arrived to the Verizon Center as early as 7:00am for media day, leave a little sooner.

On Saturday, the competition heated up as the players scrimmaged against each other for the first time in a four-on-four matchup. Plank called it “cut throat” and kept stats for the first time on the players as well. Forward Jennifer Lacy, who was added to the training camp roster on Friday, was very energetic and able to pick up on the plays and routines rather quickly. Her addition caused even more competition in an already crowded post player position.

After the four-on-four, the team played against the guys again in a five-on-five full court scrimmage and ran more out of bounds plays.

The competition really picked up between Saturday and Sunday when the players matched up against each other once again. Also on Sunday, the team ran through more situational type plays such as “two minutes left on the clock,” “down by two with only a few seconds left in the game,” and more.

This week, the Mystics are making preparations for their first preseason game which tips off this Wednesday at 11:30am against the New York Liberty.

Wednesday, April 28th

Today’s training camp featured another day of matching up against the guys. Towards the end of camp, the team participated in a 10-minute scrimmage working on their half court press and defense. Head coach Julie Plank noticed the ball being easily passed from one side of the court to the other. She told her team, “The ball does not get reversed. Keep it on one side.”

The team then shot free throws with a partner to cool down after the intense scrimmage. After a brief break, they worked on seven minutes of out of bounds plays with the guys defending them. Forward Crystal Langhorne showed dominance and strength down in the post while rookie Alexis Gray-Lawson demonstrated her ability to break through the defense, make it to the basket, and score.

During the out of bounds plays, assistant coach Marianne Stanley took some time to show the players how to plant a good screen. “Just barely touching is not a screen,” she emphasized.

Although sixth overall pick Jacinta Monroe viewed today’s training camp from the athletic trainer’s table, she spoke briefly about how camp has been thus far as a rookie. “It’s real competitive and intense but I’ve been having fun. It’s a faster pace and you learn things more quickly. They [the coaches] put in new stuff everyday,” she said.

Plank concluded training camp by giving an idea of what is to come the next day. Plank plans to add some new exercises to camp tomorrow and also mentioned that they will be expecting guards Lindsey Harding and Katie Smith to participate in camp as well. “New bodies mean it’s going to be more competitive,” she said.

Tuesday, April 27th

The Washington Mystics opened up training camp Sunday morning, full of individuals hoping to make the team’s final roster. On Monday, the team hit the courts for their first two-a-day practice. The Mystics have been working on their physical presence by playing against their male counterparts in order to create more toughness on the court. Training camp has been highlighted thus far by 2009 WNBA Most Improved Player Crystal Langhorne and rookie forward Jacinta Monroe.

Assistant coach, Trudi Lacey says that training camp has been extremely competitive. “The players are learning a lot and working very hard. It gives us an opportunity to look at some new players,” Lacey said. “We also have some of our old players coming back, such as Nikki Blue and Langhorne. Obviously Alana (Beard) is not here and we miss her but pretty soon we will have Katie (Smith) out there on the court.”

As players begin to come back from their overseas commitments, the opening days of training camp has proven to be a great opportunity to evaluate some of the new talent on the camp roster.

Perhaps some of the most competitiveness has been seen within the rookies in the post. Along with Florida State standout and the sixth overall pick, Monroe, Jenna Smith (Illinois) and Shanavia Dowdell (Louisiana Tech) have been vying for recognition at the crowded power forward position while adjusting to the demands in a professional basketball setting.

“They have a bit of a learning curve just coming out of college,” Lacey said. “Just being in a professional camp and being in D.C. is a change in itself, but they are adjusting well and learning a lot, and definitely making some progress.”