Mystics Look to Protect Home
The Mystics (1-2) prepare for an important home slate this weekend against the New York Liberty (2-2) and the Los Angeles Sparks (2-1).
This early in the year, it's hard to stress any games as "must-wins", but for a young squad with some new faces for 2014, protecting home court needs to become habitual.
"It's very important... We need to let everyone know that when they come in here, this is our house and have the crowd behind us and know that when they come to home games it will bea good one," said veteran center Kia Vaughn.
It's too early in the season to start discussing playoffs, but it's a genral consensus that the four teams in each conference that make the playoffs are the ones who can win at home.
The Mystics dropped their first two at home, but now have a chance to even their record with two tough games this weekend (Friday vs. NY, Sunday vs. LA).
"If we want to be a playoff team in this league, we have to have a winning record at home and we're off to a bad start in that regard. We have to establish some dominance in our own building," said the reigning Coach of the Year Mike Thibault.
In order to get that first home win, they'll have to stop the two-headed monster that was just formed in New York in Tina Charles and Cappie Pondexter. For years Pondexter has been one of the league's most lethal scorers, but now she has a fellow All-Star to play alongside with her in the former MVP Charles.
The two of them are each averaging over 15 points per game through the first four and are coming off a home win over the Seattle Storm, a team that beat the Mystics at Verizon Center last Saturday.
Even on a new team, Vaughn knows that she'll have her hands full with trying to slow down Charles.
"Tina is Tina, you have to make her work hard."
And Thibault, who coached Charles while the two were together in Connecticut, expects New York to utilize her in many facets.
"They post her up on the block, they run her in pick and roll, they run some isos. She is what she is, she's become so versatile as far as shooting the ball outside or inside, she's probaly shooting the ball better now facing up than she did earlier in the year on the block."
One area Thibault wants to see improvement in this weekend is rebounding. The Mystics need to get after it on the glass and allow themselves second chance opportunities by crashing the offensive boards, which is something that has troubled them in their first three games.
"We need to get extra shots, extra possessions, so if we all put forth a better effort and a group effort I think that will help along the way," said the longest tenured Mystics, Monique Currie.
Coach Thibault has stressed this fact all week in practice, so look for extra effort from all five players on the floor when the ball comes off the rim this weekend.
Last year, the Mystics and Liberty split the season series, 2-2.
The Mystics lost the season series, 2-0, to the Sparks.
Friday night's game is set for 7pm and can be seen on Monumental Network.
Sunday's game is set for 4pm and can be seen on Monumental Network.