Basketball, Year Round

Life in the off-season is much different for the women of the WNBA than their counterparts in the NBA.

Many of the NBA guys Ė actually, most of them Ė can relax, chill out and focus on training for the upcoming season. But the WNBA is different. The league has a season where players compete in fewer than half of the games that the men play so they deal with a longer off-season- which means players look to find more money.

And they literally look all around the world since thereís no real off-season league in the United States. Players routinely go far away from Wa shington to compete in leagues that have very tough competition, saying often that these games make them better players overall.

No one loves going to the other side of the world, but itís another good way to make themselves better players. In addition, they get unusual and interesting experiences that just add to the memories that basketball brings to them.

Players usually will say that donít enjoy having to be away from their families for another stretch of time, especially since the WNBA does that in the spring and summer, but if this is what they have to do to keep their basketball dreams alive and become better players, thatís what they do.

Some players will go back to the same places for a few years in a row. Others look to different leagues to work on different skills. Some just enjoy getting those chances to see other parts of the world.

In the end, though, itís all about the basketball.

As of late in the week, seven of the key Mystics players were going to take long trips to sharpen their skills for the 2009 season.

Alana Beard, will be heading to Poland to play in a league there. Coco Miller goes to Russia for the very competitive league in that country, one thatís very popular with women all around the world.

First-round draft pick Crystal Langhorne is going to the same area, as the former Maryland stand-out will compete in basketball in Lithuania.

Shay Murphy and Tasha Humphrey, who came to the Mystics in a trade with Detroit this summer, are headed to different spots. Muprhy is going to Spain while Humphrey will play in the tough Israeli leagues.

Long-range shooter Laurie Koehn will work on her game while playing in a league in Turkey. Teammate Crystal Smith is scheduled to join her there.

The final Mystic whoís scheduled to take an out-of-country trip is Krystal Vaughn. The 6-1 rookie from VCU will be going to Greece.