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The Mystics have shaken up their roster after a 6-28 record last season. General Manager and Head Coach Trudi Lacey brought in a dozen new players during the offseason, including several key veterans she hopes can help the reboot the team.
One of those players is center and nine-year veteran Ashley Robinson, who the Mystics acquired in a trade from the Seattle Storm. Robinson was ninth in the league in blocks in 2011 and even won a championship with the Storm in 2010.
She said team management is honing in on newly-acquired veterans like her, guard Dominique Canty and center Michelle Snow to be the driving force for the team this year and to act as mentors to younger players on the team like rookie guard Natalie Novosel.
“This organization has given us players that have been in this league a long time to spread our wings and show what we can do,” Robinson said.
With such an extensive shakeup to the roster to start the season, Lacey is taking aggressive measures to work on strengthening bonds between new teammates. Earlier this month, Lacey surprised the team during practice by busing them out to the Potomac River for a Navy Seal bootcamp.
“I wanted to see how they handled the element of surprise and being out of their comfort zone when the situation was tough,” Lacey told WashingtonMystics.com. “I want a team that’s more mentally tough.”
Trying to get so many new players comfortable playing as a team is probably going to be the biggest challenge for the Mystics this season as they compete against well-oiled machines like the 2011 champs the Minnesota Lynx, who won more than four times the number of games the Mystics did last year. Robinson knows a fair share about winning a championship, but doing so with the Mystics will be no easy task.
“It doesn’t happen in one year, I know that much,” Robinson said. “I was in Seattle and we had our core girls together for a good four, five, even six years before we took home a championship.”
She emphasized, however, that she doesn’t see this season as a “rebuilding” one. With aggressive teamwork, she said the team can rack up 20-plus wins this season.
“This organization is so solid, all I’m interested in doing is winning," Robinson said. “We have a great coaching staff and we’re in a great city. We just have to bring that culture of winning to the team where nothing else matters.”
Don’t sleep on Crystal Langhorne.
The team’s All-Star forward is one of the only returning players to the Mystics roster this season. With all the emphasis on new players this year, it’s going to take people like Langhorne to get the team accustomed to Trudi Lacey’s coaching style.
But Langhorne spent much of the offseason playing basketball in Russia giving her little time before the season starts to get acquainted with her teammates. But, as Lacey told WashingtonMystics.com, Langhorne was informed of all the team changes going on while she was away.
The two-time All-Star is one of the top scorers and rebounders in the league, averaging 18.2 points and 7.6 rebounds a game last season. By pairing Langhorne with the team’s new veteran centers Ashley Robinson and Michelle Snow, the Mystics have the potential to build a shut-em-down defense inside the paint.
– Aman Ali, WNBA.com