May 2008

Friday, May 30 - Crystal Langhorne adjusts to her surroundings.

Its been nice that for once I got some time to relax. We had home games all this week and that meant that we didn't have to travel all crazy and got to chill.

I've enjoyed my time in the area so far this week. We live in Arlington, VA and I've been exploring the area. I was skeptical to drive around and explore because gas was so expensive (lol) but I have to know what's around me. I found a nice car wash and a nail shop that isn't too expensive. I also found all these malls that I can go to because I love to shop. It's been a great week because I found so much to do now and I feel like this is more my home now.

--clang1jersey

Thursday, May 29 - Greg Bibb checks in.

After opening the season with two road losses, the Mystics have proven there really is no substitute for home cooking. We enjoyed a 69-66 victory over the Houston Comets in our home opener on Sunday before defeating the Atlanta Dream, 80-74, at Verizon Center on Tuesday night. Both games provided plenty of positives as well as presenting evidence we still have some things to improve on if we hope to be a playoff team come September.

Let’s start with the latter. Despite an 80-point effort vs. Atlanta, we continue to rank dead last in WNBA offensive production, scoring 65.5 points per game. We have shown improvement in this area over the past few games and this advancement is going to have to continue if we are going to ascend the League standings. Granted, we posted 80 last night, but the Dream is yielding 85 points per game so far this season. Only Phoenix (89 points per game) has allowed more.

Our offensive woes stem in part to our inability to hit three-pointers. The Mystics have made less than 24% of the team’s 3-point attempts with just 10 connections on 42 offerings. This effort is good for 13th out of the 14-team League with only Chicago shooting a worse percentage (12.5%) from 3-point land.

Finally, there is the free-throw issue. Washington currently ranks 13th in this category as well, hitting at a 69% clip from the charity stripe. Our lack of efficiency here has not cost us a win yet, but I have to believe it will if we don’t improve in this area of our game. The good news here is we went 24 of 32 (75%) from the line on Tuesday night and have made 36 of our last 49 (73.4%) foul shots during the last two games.

Our improvement at the foul line symbolizes our team’s improvement as a whole. After a competitive, but tough loss at Indiana and a no-show outing in New York, I think we are starting to find our stride. I’ll tell you why:

Our two wins were about as different in effort as you will see in consecutive games. On Sunday, our bench carried the day, scoring 34 of our 69 points. Laurie Koehn led this charge, notching 12 points in just 9:14 of play. Rookie Crystal Langhorne also had a big game with 10 points on a perfect four for four from the field. On Tuesday, our starters did the heavy lifting with 69 of our 80 points coming from the tip-off line-up. AB posted 25, Taj registered 19 and Monique scored 14. Moreover, Amber Jacobs, starting in place of the injured Nikki Blue, played a very solid 18 minutes. Finally, Nakia Sanford played the best half of basketball I have seen from her, seemingly grabbing every loose ball and out-working the much bigger Dream front line during the game’s final frame.

On Sunday we won with defense, holding Houston to 38.5% shooting. On Tuesday we won with offense, connecting on 47.4 of our shots. On Sunday we started slow. On Tuesday was started fast. Sunday we were out rebounded 38-25 while Tuesday we reversed that trend, out boarding Atlanta by more than a two-to-one ratio, 41-20.

Two very different games. One similar result…a win. Good teams win in many different ways and I think we are starting to show this kind of versatility.

In addition, I like the progression of what I call our offensive comfort zone. Sometimes the numbers don’t tell the whole story. While our stats on the offensive side of the ball have not experienced remarkable improvement over the past four games, anyone who has watched the team during this time should be able to recognize the increasing efficiency of our offensive sets. This efficiency leads to open shots and easy buckets, which we have been getting more of lately.

I’m also feeling good about what lies ahead. Bernice Mosby is back on the court after a long rehab process. Crystal Langhorne looks to be everything you would hope a #6 overall pick would be and I think we are getting good minutes out of our young reserves.

Finally, I like where we are because of Taj. She has been exactly what we needed…a strong leader who still plays the game at an all-star level. In case you haven’t kept up with the stats, she is averaging 15 points per outing and ranks fourth in the WNBA in rebounds per contest at 9.3. When Tuesday’s game was on the line, she led the way, refusing to let us lose. AB and Nakia also provided the leadership good teams possess and the effort that dictates the difference between winning and losing.

So we enter Saturday’s game vs. LA with an even 2-2 record. Delisha Milton-Jones will be back in the house. ABC will be broadcasting nationally. We expect a very big crowd. If you don’t have tickets, get them. I don’t think you’ll want to miss this one. See you in Chinatown.

Until next time,

Go Mystics!

Wednesday, May 28 - Dana Simonelli shares the excitement of opening night and the anticipation of the upcoming Sparks game.

Hello Mystics Fans,

It is great to be sharing with all of you once again. Well what can I say, but what a great win on opening day! The team really came through and stuck in there till the end. The game was exciting as well as the crowd. We really felt your presence. I can’t wait for LA to come in here on Saturday and put us to the test. Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie will be a tough combo to contain, but I have confidence the Mystics will make it a game. As the season has officially opened it makes me reflect back to just one year ago, when I was new to the Mystics family and how so much has changed. It is great to see our transformation as a front office and basketball team. The front office is crisp and in sync like a well run triangle offense. I am looking forward to a successful season and what is to come.

A big shout out to our MVP club! They sold over 100 new full season tickets, but also sold over 200 tickets to the opening night game. They are really dedicated and I know the staff is thankful for their help with the goals of the organization. I would also like the send a special thank you to Susan Loftus for my special Mystics Vans. They are really awesome and I appreciate the time and effort she put into them. Thanks again Susan. You are truly a SUPER FAN!

Once again thank you fans and also a big thank you to our staff on a successful opening day! See you at the next game and remember to keep believing.

Tuesday, May 27 - Linda Hargrove looks back to the last few games of the 2008 season.

Hey All ...

It is amazing to me that we are three games into the season. I certainly hadn’t planned on starting out 1-2 but I guess the most important thing is not how we start but how we finish. Missing Alana the first game against Indiana really hurt and we simply did not show up against New York. We didn’t shoot the ball well the first quarter against Houston but I thought we played really hard and our defense was much better than it had been against New York. Coco and Taj’s veteran leadership with the game on the line was so important in this win. You can never underestimate the importance of experience and I think it really showed in this game.

The bad thing was that we lost Nikki Blue in this game. She experienced a high ankle sprain and will be out of commission for a few weeks. The one area where we couldn’t afford to have an injury was at the point guard spot. Nikki has been getting more and more confident running the team and this will set her back some. Several fans have asked about why we signed Crystal Smith off waivers if she was going to be unavailable for awhile. Well, we knew that a couple of teams were going to try to sign her off waivers and if we didn’t claim her we wouldn’t have the opportunity to evaluate her with our team. She was a starter in the league last year for Houston and can really pressure defensively in the back court. The coaches wanted another strong defensive player, who can run the team, and Crystal seems like she might fit that description. She should be ready to join the Mystics in about a week.

After the game Sunday, Ed and I walked down to the Capital Building and enjoyed the Memorial Day Concert on the Capital lawn. We have attended the July 4th celebration in the past and this event was so patriotic and really helped us feel the true reason for celebrating Memorial Day. Monday we made sure we visited all the War Memorials on the Mall and remembered those who commit their lives to making our lives easier. It was really a good day and I’m glad I got to share it with my husband in the nation’s capital.

Tonight we play Atlanta. I’ve been very impressed with how Marynell Meadors has put this team together and with all the vets she has accumulated. It does not look like an expansion team. They really have great size led by Katie Feenstra at 6’8” and Erika DeSousa at 6’5”and if you have Betty Lennox on your team you have an explosive player who can go off at any time. It should be a good game.

The opening game was really great. From the block party to the national anthem to the video intros to the halftime (which I didn’t see but heard it was really good) to the engaged crowd to the great game and finally the win. The front office has worked really hard to put together a fun, entertaining in game experience and I really appreciate all their hard work. Hope you tell your friends and we continue to win back the fans in DC.

See you in the gym………

Linda

Monday, May 26 - MEMORIAL DAY

Friday, May 23 - Crystal Langhorne looks back on her college career on her graduation day.

Wowww, today is my college graduation. I can't believe my college career is going to be officially over. I remember when I was first moving into my dorm for summer school at the beginning of my freshman year. It all flew bye so fast that its unbelievable.

My freshman year I was overwhelmed with the amount of school work that I had to do all of the time. By the time my last semester of school came, I only had a three credit internship course so it wasn't like I had a lot of school work to do. So it was like I was sort of out of school because I wasn't in classes anymore, but of course I still had the internship and I was still playing basketball for Maryland so I was still living on campus. Then I finished my internship so I was just playing basketball, so my slow process of leaving the university was taking its course. Then we lost in the NCAA tournament and my college basketball career was over. I didn't know how quickly I would have to leave my college because I didn't know where I would be drafted. As you all know I was drafted by the Mystics which gave me the opportunity to still be around UMD. I was still going there all the time and even spending the night sometimes, even though I had my apartment in Virginia. So I was still a student in my eyes, even though I was going through WNBA training camp. Now school is over and it is now graduation time. This is the last part of my process of leaving college. I can no longer say I am a student at UMD because now it is really over.

I'm at that turning point from being a college student to a pro basketball player. It feels weird but I'm ready for it. I think a lot about myself being 21 and how I have the opportunity to play a game and get paid for it. I see all my other friends now having to go on interviews while I get to continue to keep playing. It is a great opportunity that I think I now am truly understanding how blessed I am. So many people would love to be able to be where I am. I'm finally entering the real world, but in a funny way, I'm not. I love the opportunities basketball has given me and I'm going to take full advantage of getting to do something I love and get paid to do.

Thursday, May 22 - Greg Bibb checks in.

It seems as if I have been counting down the days to our home opener since the beginning of October. We were about 235 days from our 2008 Verizon Center tip-off at that point. Now we stand just three days from the home opener. These are exciting times for the Mystics organization and we hope you make the decision to join us for all the fun on May 25.

Tough Start

The season did not begin as we had hoped as the team dropped a 64-53 decision in Indiana on May 17. We played hard and hung tough for three quarters, actually leading by a point entering the final frame; however, a 9-0 Fever run during the first 2:15 of the fourth pretty much did us in. Our early season Achilles heel, free throw shooting, also didn’t help the cause as we converted just 9 of 16 (56.3%) from the charity stripe. Katie Douglas, in her Indiana debut, led all players in scoring with 24 points (17 in the first half) while Nakia Sanford posted a double-double for the Mystics, notching 14 and grabbing 11 boards.

The good news here is despite very poor execution of the game plan, poor shooting, and an early deficit; the team played tough and had a chance to win the game. Moreover, Alana Beard sat out with a hamstring injury, which was obviously a big loss for us. I still feel good about where we’re heading and our opportunity for redemption comes quickly with our game at New York tonight.

Have I Mentioned The Home Opener?

In case I haven’t, it’s this Sunday, May 25. Tip-off is at 4 pm, but you’ll want to be downtown early as our F Street block party begins at 12 noon. We’ll have face painters, carnival games, moon bounces, musical performances, activities with the team, and more. Inside Verizon Center, we have plenty of special events planned to celebrate the start of a new season, including a performance by someone who is simply the best. We anticipate a great crowd, but there are still some seats available. You can grab those by calling the club at 1-877-DCHOOP1.

900 And Counting…

We had one primary focus as an organization this off-season…sell more season tickets. I’m happy to report that our hard work in this segment of the business continues to pay off as we have now surpassed 900 new season ticket equivalents for the 2008 season! I have been thrilled at the results our hard-working staff has been able to produce. Of course, some credit is also deserved by our awesome volunteer sales group, which has contributed nearly 120 season tickets to the effort. Hopefully, all of our founding and long-time fans will welcome our new followers into the Mystics family. If you see someone new at a game, do me a favor and introduce yourself. We need to keep these newbies engaged and interested in the Mystics.

Not To Be Forgotten

I also wanted to mention the positive results we have experienced on the corporate partnership side where we have enjoyed a 27% increase in sponsorship dollars year-to-date. Our partnership team of Marty Lerner and Rebecca Hunt has done a great job engaging new partners. I would like to thank companies such as Sibley Hospital, Under Armour, and Curves for making the decision to join the Mystics.

A Brighter Spotlight

One of the reasons I feel we have seen measurable improvement in all segments of our business is the increased attention the team has received from the local media. Last week alone we had four stories in the Washington Post, including a WNBA preview on Friday and awesome team preview on Saturday. On the electronic side, Comcast Sportsnet is proving to be a great partner, providing consistent coverage of the team. Kudos to Mystics Sr. Director of Communications Ketsia Colimon for making it all happen.

A Wave Is Worth A Thousand Words…

But I’ll keep it to a few less here...we experienced another milestone with Adelyn on Monday night. When I returned home from work, I did what I always do: I said hello to my daughter with a big smile and a wave from across the room. Usually, I get a smile and a giggle in return; however, on Monday, my daughter surprised me by waving back. The funny thing is that Tara and I have been working with Addy on this task for weeks now and she had seemed totally disinterested in the process. Monday though she waved back like it was no big deal and she had been doing it forever. I continue to be amazed and awed by the development process of a little person. Fun stuff.

Website of the Week

As I have mentioned before, I’m a country boy born and bred. Thus, I have a soft spot in my heart for good old farmers’ markets and fresh food. If you feel the same way, check out www.localharvest.com. Here you can find places close to home to purchase fresh and organically grown consumable products. There’s also a featured product section, a newsletter and forums. The site is clean and easy to use, with no preservatives added. Check it out!

Quote of the Week

“We are only as wise as our ears are open.”

Final (and sometimes random) Thoughts

• The Utah Jazz season came to an end at the hand of the LA Lakers late last week. Mercifully, you will not have to read about them here in this blog again for at least six months.

• Candace Parker scored 34 points in her WNBA debut. It is official…she’s pretty good.

• How about those Minnesota Lynx! Nice win over the Detroit Shock to start the season. By the way, I think Nicky Anosike and Charde Houston may have been the two steals of the 2008 WNBA Draft

• Congrats to Kristi Yamaguchi…the most recent “Dancing with the Stars” champion.

• Don’t forget to join Frank Hanrahan on www.washingtonmystics.com for the call of tonight’s Mystics-NY Liberty game at Madison Square Garden. Tip-off is 7:30pm, so you’ll still be able to catch the last hour and a half or so of the Grey’s Anatomy season finale!

Until next time,

Go Mystics!

Wednesday, May 21 - Sheila Robinson asks, "should you know your co-workers job?"

I think all employees should perfect the job they have been hired to do, however, I am a firm believer in knowing how everyone does their job just in case the need arises for your help, but more important, you will understand how each person contributes. Now I know from experience that some jobs you just cannot do, but most of the time you would be surprised at what you are good at.

Take a moment to shadow your colleagues, ask questions, and find out what it takes to get their jobs done; you will gain greater respect for your co-worker.

Enjoy your day!

Monday, May 19 - Sarah Novak gets ready for the Mystics home opener.

I can’t believe that we are only a week out from our home opener. Being that this is my “rookie” year with the Mystics, I so excited about my first tip off on Sunday May 25th. Not only am I excited for the home opener but my family is coming in next weekend. I am an only child raised by a single mom. She will be flying in from Pittsburgh (GO STEELERS) on Saturday while my Aunty Carol will be flying in from Phoenix the Friday before. They are coming in to support me, the Mystics and of course take in the DC sights. I haven’t seen my mom since Christmas and to be honest, I am very homesick. I know that you all are thinking how are you homesick when there is so much to do in DC, you live in a Burrow with two of your best friends and you work for the Mystics? Your answer is when I am stressed I want to be home. It is not a bad form of stress but the anticipation of the home opener is enough to make an emotional eater want to eat. I am an emotional eater and the food I want is only food I can get back home. One would believe since I haven’t lived at home in close to a decade that I wouldn’t get homesick. However that is not the case; even though I don’t live at home my family is as involved in my life as if I lived across the street. So there are those times that I want a little taste of home and I mean that literally not figuratively. In the past week, I have been craving every food that reminds me of home pasta, Permanti Brothers sandwiches washed down with an IC light, and fried ravioli. Thanks to Front Page in Arlington, I fed that hunger this past Wednesday night with some excellent fried ravioli. It wasn’t exactly like the way my aunt makes it with Ricotta and Prosciutto baked on top of it, but it was enough to curve my craving.

For all of you that are on the fence on weather to buy tickets or not, all I have to say is that our pre-season was fantastic. We ended with a strong win against Houston on our home court. It was a great first game for me to watch and also a great chance for me to meet my season ticket holders. I hope to see you all out for our home opener May 25, 2008 at 4:00 pm with our block party starting at noon. Come out and enjoy a great Sunday of Family fun.

Sarah

Friday, May 16 - Crystal Langhorne checks in.

Well I finally finished moving into my apartment. I love it and I'm only five minutes from the mall. If you don't know I'm a shopaholic and besides basketball that is my favorite thing to do. The mall has a store I love, Forever 21, but they're missing my other favorite in H&M. I actually went to that mall the other day with Lindsay Taylor and got two cute shirts, she bought some cute stuff too. Then I had to go to the Verizon store to get a new phone because the super expensive phone I bought, I really didn't need, it was a waste of my money. So I got a basic flip phone which I love and it's easy to use (I keep it pretty basic with the technology if I can).

My parents also came down to visit me and bring down some stuff for my apartment. They took me grocery shopping and a lot of people were making fun of me because of that. But my parents were just trying to help me get settled in and get started in the real world and I don't see anything wrong with that, so there. I got some great food too, a lot of the snacks I feign for but I also got some healthy stuff because I have to eat right to perform well. Then my parents and I went out to dinner at Outback. I love Outback's cheese fries and wings and I always get them (I know, I know, unhealthy junk food). After that we watched some NBA games on TV and then they went back to Jersey.

I haven't even been keeping up with the NBA the way I should have. It always seems like when I finally realize the game is coming on, its the fourth quarter by the time I turn to it. Like my days are always filled up now. I have practice, then appearances or other things that I have to do. The other day I met with the coordinator for Dance 4 Life. Dance 4 Life is a worldwide organization but it is new in the Unites States. I am going to be an ambassador for the organization. Dance 4 life is an organization that encourages young people to use their voices to help stop the spread of HIV and AIDS and fight the taboos that surround this pandemic. I'm really excited to be apart of that and contribute to a positive organization like Dance 4 Life. Women are becoming a overwhelming statistic for HIV and AIDS and as a female athlete I think I can use my position as a role model to spread the word to help lower these numbers.

So much is going on for me right now and I'm excited about all the opportunities that I am getting to be a positive role model for girls. Hopefully things will continue to keep rolling and keep getting better.

Thursday, May 15 - Greg Bibb checks in.

Welcome back. The 2008 regular season is finally here as the Mystics will tip off the organization’s 11th campaign this Saturday at Indiana. The past seven and a half months have flown by and I have had a wonderful time getting to know so many new people within the Mystics organization, Lincoln Holdings (our parent company), and the greater Washington area. I can’t wait for Saturday.

A Perfect Preseason

The Mystics concluded an undefeated, 3-0 preseason with a 72-66 victory over the Houston Comets at Verizon Center on Tuesday night. This win followed last Thursday’s victory at New York and our triumph in Tampa over Sacramento on May 5.

As a team, we have plenty to work on, but I’m excited about the vibe this group has right now. They work hard, they play great defense, they rebound well, and they want to win for one another. There will be growing pains to be sure, but I think the 2008 season will be an exciting one.

No Respect

Despite our undefeated preseason, most of the pundits are predicting a very disappointing 2008 for us. In fact, in a recent WNBA survey of league general managers, the Mystics were voted least likely to qualify for an eastern conference playoff berth. Moreover, most league previews have Washington at the bottom of the conference. I’m ok with this because I love the role of the underdog and I really think our team is going to surprise some people this season. Stay tuned.

Home Opener

Just a reminder…the home opener is Sunday, May 25. Tip-off is 4pm. We want to sell-out Verizon Center for this game, so we need your support. If you don’t have your tickets, contact us at 1-877-DCHOOP1. Be sure to come out early for the block party on F Street, between 6th and 7th. The festivities start at 12 noon.

Television Partnership

I was pleased to recently announce our new local television partnership with Comcast Sportsnet. As a result of this relationship, Comcast Sportsnet will air five Mystics games during the month of July (dates: 8, 18, 20, 23, 27). In addition, all but the July 23 game will be aired in High Definition. Comcast Sportsnet has also pledged to brand July as Mystics Month on the network with expanded coverage of the team as well as promotional support, which will provide additional platforms to increase awareness for our organization.

I’m excited to be partnering with the region’s leading sports network. Along with our three national broadcasts on ABC and our one ESPN2 appearance, the Mystics will be on television nine times during the 2008 campaign. If you can’t make it out to Verizon Center, be sure to tune into one of the broadcasts.

Mystics on the Web

In addition to television coverage of select Mystics games, all 34 regular season contests will be broadcast over the Internet at WashingtonMystics.com. Veteran Mystics play-by-play announcer Frank Hanrahan will have the call. Please visit our site to listen to Frank provide all of the exciting 2008 game action.

Mother’s Day Fun

My wife celebrated her first Mother’s Day last Sunday and Adelyn and I had a great time recognizing the most wonderful wife/mommy in the world. My mom and my mother-in-law came to Arlington to spend the day and celebrate with us. It was great seeing all of the special ladies in my life together in one place at one time. My dad and Tara’s grandfather also made the trip to make sure I wasn’t totally outnumbered. Adelyn did her part, giving her mom a nice bauble and flowers. She even slept completely through the night before, giving Tara a very rare night of uninterrupted sleep!

Birthday Party Rewind

Since I focused on our first pre-season game in my blog last week, I didn’t have a chance to tell you about the PA birthday party Adelyn attended on May 3. In short, it was a hoot. Adelyn sat on a pony, pet a sheep, and got up close and personal with baby chicks. She also had the chance to see her good friend (and birthday girl) Elise Espenshade while making new friends as well.

For me, it was quite the “life moment.” Here I was, back home, at a birthday party with many of my childhood friends. Our families were there, including, in many cases, our parents, who were doing the same things they did for our parties twenty-five or thirty years ago. As I looked around, I realized how much things have changed, and yet how much things have stayed the same.

Thanks to Elise and her mom and dad for having us. Hopefully, we’ll get back home sometime soon.

Website of the Week

If you like shoes like I like shoes, check out www.zappos.com. Here you can purchase shoes for women, men, and children. You can buy for yourself or you can purchase a great gift. You can shop for shoes by category or by manufacturer. You can also snag accessories, electronics, and eyewear. Trust me, this is a great site and I would like to thank my wife (I think) for introducing me to such a wonderful, shall I say, resource.

Quote of the Week

“Being a pioneer should never be viewed as difficult, but instead as a privilege.”

Final (and sometimes random) Thoughts

• It’s May 15 and the Utah Jazz are still playing basketball.

• It’s May 15 and there are still two candidates competing for the democratic presidential nomination.

• It’s May 15 and the state of Florida has two major league baseball clubs in first place.

• It’s May 15 and the Mystics have sold nearly 900 new season tickets for the 2008 season.

• It’s May 15…only two days until the regular season begins…do you BELIEVE!

Until next time,

Go Mystics!

Wednesday, May 14 - Marty Lerner welcomes husband Alan and daughter Alexa home.

As I sit here bleary-eyed, I revel in the fact that I took my last late-night flight from St. Louis back to D.C. I’m happy to report that Alan (my hubbie) and Alexa make the permanent move to D.C. this weekend --- just in time for our home opener on May 25th.

So what’s new in the world of Partnerships, you may ask?

- This week is WNBA Cares Week. We’re excited to be visiting with our key partner, Sibley Memorial Hospital, on Thursday, May 15th. Alana and Taj will be meeting and greeting with Sibley Hospital employees. Be on the look out for pictures on our site.

- CareFirst – Community Three’s. This exciting program will benefit Girls, Inc. of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. With every three pointer in-season, CareFirst will donate $100 to Girls, Inc.

- Season Launch Block Party – Powered by Under Armour. This pre-game event will take place on F Street on Sunday, May 25th as we take on the Houston Comets. Bring your whole family to enjoy our fun festivities. Buy your tickets now to get in the action.

A shout out to Alexa who graduates on Friday from Pre-K. Her daycare in St. Louis really pulls out all the stops. There’s a graduation ceremony complete with cap and gown and handing out of diplomas. How quickly time flies that my little girl is now moving on to kindergarten in the fall.

I also want to give props to Alan. He has been an amazing partner throughout our transition back to D.C. He has been a doting father, an airport shuttle driver, move coordinator, one of my most fervent supporters – always there when I need a “pick me up”, a constant play date for Alexa, a surrogate mother and much much more. I could not have done this without him.

Until next time.

Do you BELIEVE?

Tuesday, May 13 - Linda Hargrove checks in.

Hey All ...

Can you believe that our 2008 season begins this week? It seems that so much happens in the off-season to prepare for this week, it is here, and the season will just fly by. We play our final preseason game tonight against Houston and then travel to Indiana for our first game on Saturday. I spoke with Lin Dunn last night and she still doesn’t have some of her key players in camp. It is so hard to prepare for the season when key parts are gone for most of the preparation period. You don’t have the opportunity to give players some time off after coming back to our teams from overseas and most of them are nursing some nagging problems and need the time off.

So far we have had a very successful preseason. The players that we brought into training camp were very hard workers and picked things up really fast. Some will make our team. Our draft was solid and a couple of those players will survive the final cuts. The off season trades have kept veterans in our line up and given us a chance to get another first round pick next year and the free agent that we signed in the off season has been solid. I still believe that our team may be a work in progress but I feel really good about where we are right now. The chemistry is really good and as we continue to mesh, get more comfortable with each other and gain confidence I see good things on the horizon for the Mystics and their fans.

I had a chance to go home for the weekend and spend some time with my Mom, kids and grandkids. Mother’s Day becomes even more special when you aren’t around your family on a consistent basis. I had a chance to cook, play ball with my grandkids, eat at my favorite Wichita restaurants, see a sick aunt and a niece who has cancer and hug my Mom. I lost my Dad about a year and a half ago and as we get older and watch our parents age these times together become so special. I love being with my Mystics family but everyone needs to cling to those special moments with our families, especially on holidays.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with some of our fans tonight. We have such a great core group that has been with the Mystics for a long time and some who have just found women’s basketball. Your input is always appreciated and hearing what you think is important to me. Houston has put together a very experienced veteran group and it will be interesting to see how we respond tonight. I like the mix of vets and young players that we have and look for a lot of improvement as the year progresses.

See you in the gym ...

Linda

Monday, May 12 - Lauren Lafayette looks back on Mother's Day weekend.

Good Monday Morning Mystics Family and Friends!!!

First, let me wish all of the mothers a Happy Belated Mother's Day!! Staying within the Mother's Day spirit, I had a phenomenal past weekend with my own mother. While to many this may not sound like too eventful of a weekend, I recently relocated to the Metro DC area from Detroit. A native mid-westerner born and bred, I never really imagined myself trading my nine month Michigan winters for the fast pace and loud sounds of the East Coast. As adjustment has been difficult over the last few months, I have really learned to embrace the sights and sounds of the city.

However, for my mother this is a different case. Although we have been on numerous family vacations and roadtrips around the U.S., my mother is still a native Michigander at heart. Riding the Metro, constant traffic, reckless driving and extensive undergroung parking was enough to exhaust my mother before we even reached downtown. Finally, once we arrived my mother who is a very active person was ready to call it a day before even having lunch. After re-fueling at a local eatery, she was ready once again to hit the city. The rest of our day was spent enjoying the local retailers (Yes!!! FREE STUFF) and museums.

All in all I can say this weekend was one to remember. While I still miss the shared camaraderie at the Big House and the Coney Dogs ( for all those not from Metro Detroit, chili hot dogs) from the local Coney Island, I am starting to love...or at least like DC.

Well, going to sleep now so hope to see you all during the season!!!!

The Newest Member of the Mystics Family,

~Lauren

Friday, May 9 - Crystal Langhorne checks in following a busy week in Tampa and New York.

This past week has been too long. We were in Tampa for training camp and it was great. We got some quality practices in and we also got to do other things. Our president Sheila Johnson had a dinner for us on Friday night. The food was excellent, the fish came out of the Atlantic Ocean less than 24 hours before we ate it. Her chef made us a great meal that night and also the next night. We had a bbq and once again the food was delicious. Those team outings were good because we got to know each other better.

We finished off our Tampa trip with a game against Sacramento. We won in overtime and it was pretty exciting. It was weird playing in that game because my old teammate Laura Harper was playing. After the game Laura and I got to hang out and that was great. It was good to see her.

We then went up to NY to play. Our trip was great because we take an Amtrak train to NY. It's so much easier than a plane because the seats are so comfy and we don't need to check in or anything like a flight.

Special Note: Hey Mystics fans! Be sure to come out and see Pax this Saturday May 10 from 12 - 2pm at Union Station for National Train Day!!

Thursday, May 8 - Greg Bibb checks in.

A Winning Start…

I recently returned from the University of Tampa where the Mystics played the team’s first pre-season game of the 2008 campaign. As you know by now, Washington came away with a 90-82 (OT) victory vs. the Sacramento Monarchs on Monday night.

The game in Tampa allowed the coaching staff the opportunity to look at some new faces while implementing the offensive and defensive schemes. For the players, the pre-season tilt provided the chance to compete against somebody from another team. Most importantly though, Monday’s game provided our young club with the opportunity to face, and eventually overcome, adversity.

I have to give Sacramento a ton of credit. They traveled across country and dressed just nine players, many of whom were either fresh faces or non-starters. Despite these challenges, the Monarchs absorbed a 13-0 first-quarter Mystics run, overcame a 37-33 halftime deficit, and were a few seconds and one big Taj McWilliams-Franklin basket away from winning the game.

On the flip side, I thought we played well at the start of the contest, poorly through the middle part of the tilt, and great at the end. I thought our pressure defense and timely shooting down the stretch were the two keys to the game. Moreover, we were a perfect 10 for 10 from the charity stripe in the extra session.

While I wasn’t overly impressed with our play for all forty minutes of regulation, I was extremely happy with the way the team fought back and then eventually put the Monarchs away. Pre-season is pre-season and at the end of the year no one is going to remember this game in Tampa; however, I think this victory was exactly what we needed to get our 2008 season off on the right foot.

From an individual perspective, I was most impressed by a trio of players…the aforementioned McWilliliams-Franklin as well as Nikki Blue and Krystal Vaughn. Taj did what Taj does...she played very efficient basketball, posting 16 points on seven of 11 shooting while hitting the big shot to send the game into the extra frame. Nikki logged a game-high 35 minutes, scored fifteen points and registered five assists. Most importantly, she joined Coco Miller in keeping us perfect at the free throw line during overtime.

Then there is Krystal Vaughn. Here’s a kid who has impressed everybody with her talent and work ethic during our training camp. Now the she’s been charged with learning a new position while fighting for a roster spot. While her performance on Monday left plenty of room for improvement (see two of nine shooting and five turnovers), her athleticism and her energy were two big reasons we won. The shooting and turnover numbers are what you would expect from a player tasting her first game action in a new position. Her game-high nine rebounds strengthened her case for making our team. Krystal has turned out to be the most interesting story of this year’s training camp.

I also thought Crystal Langhorne played a solid 16 minutes while doing some nice things, particularly at the defensive end of the floor. Finally, I thought Coco and Amber Jacobs had solid, albeit somewhat quiet, games.

Overall, we shot a decent 50.8% from the field as a team, which is a good start for a team that shot a league-worst 40.4% a season ago. Unfortunately, our field goal percentage was off-set by a tough night at the free throw line where we were a collective 11 for 23 in regulation before our 10 for 10 run in overtime.

So pre-season game one is in the books as a win. Now we head to New York today to face the Liberty. The current roster will be joined by some familiar faces in Alana Beard, Monique Currie, and Laurie Koehn. Unfortunately when more veterans return, some others must go and we say goodbye to Sarah-Jo Lawrence, Rashida Suber, and Jillian Robbins.

In conclusion, I like where we are heading. I think we have a talented, athletic, and hungry team. I thing our chemistry is right and I believe everyone understands their role and purpose. It’s on to NYC. We’ll see what happens.

Until next time,

Go Mystics!

Wednesday, May 7 - Nicole Jones make gift suggestions on this Mother’s Day.

Hey Mystics Fans!!!!

It’s me again. So many things are going on right now that it’s not even funny. It’s May, the season is literally heading into full swing, and I just bought my first car. So what do I talk about today? I’ve got it! Sunday’s Mother’s Day. How do you express your love and respect for someone that literally gave you life? How do you make it different and special from every other day? Any suggestions are appreciated.

Well I know that for me, I normally find a card that seems to say exactly what I would say through every word. Then, I may have some flowers sent to the house and either cook dinner or take Mom out somewhere. Of course there’s always the gift route. But again, what do you buy someone that has everything? Or at least everything you can afford to buy. I’ve always heard mothers say that they don’t need anything special. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on them. But come on. Just try to get away with not buying or giving Mom something special on Sunday. You’ll be the talk of the town---and not in a good way.

Just in case you’ve dropped the ball or are trying to do something different, here’s a suggestion for you - Washington Mystics Season Tickets. They make a great gift. We’re just 18 days away from the official start of the season. There are a plethora of options if 18 home games seem to be too much of a commitment. There’s a six-game package, three-game package, and Family Packages available. Mystics games provide great entertainment and are the most affordable option on a professional sports team level.

At the very least, treat Mom to at least one game this season. Ideally, the Mystics home opener on Sunday, May 25th against the Houston Comets at 4pm. There will also be a Season Launch Block Party presented by Under Armour in front of the Verizon Center on F Street, NW, between 6th & 7th Streets, from 12 - 3pm! Don’t miss out! Call 202-527-7516 or email njones@washmystics.com today for tickets.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Until next time,

Nicole Jones

Monday, May 5 - Rebecca Hunt checks in.

Happy Monday Mystics fans!!!!

Hopefully everyone had a great weekend and got to enjoy the nice weather. I know I had a “novel” idea to head to Home Depot on Sunday afternoon to get some plants and things to spruce up my deck. $85, 2 hours and severe whiplash later (seems like everyone had the great idea to head to Home Depot and the garden center was a freefrall with everyone snatching plants and attempting to operate extra large flatbed carts by running into other patrons in their haste to get the last hanging pot of pink begonias) I was home again happily planting. My roommates can attest I am no green thumb; in fact I am the best person I know at killing anything green. So this weekend is as good as the deck will look (at least until my mama comes for a visit ;) ) After a hard day of gardening I was able to top off the evening with a cookout and a cocktail.

I was not the only one working hard this weekend, the Mystics players are busily preparing in Tampa for the preseason game today. All the training camp invitees and draft picks are working hard to earn a spot on the 2008 roster. With more of the veterans back in town things are really heating up! The season is officially here. As I was leaving the Verizon Center on Friday night I stopped to talk with some of the building employees and with the Wizards being knocked out of the playoffs they tell me they are ready for the Mystics season, no rest for the weary with those guys!

Well, I hope everyone has a great Cinco de Mayo and be sure to check out the website tomorrow for a recap of our first official preseason game!

Friday, May 2 - Crystal Langhorne talks about her first week in Camp.

The first few days of training camp for me have been going ok. It's taken me a while to get adjusted because I flew in from China the day before I came to camp. There is a twelve hour difference between China and the east coast and it was like I was practicing at midnight when I came back to the states.

The coaches and players have been very welcoming to me and helped me out with a lot of the plays since I came to camp a week late. It is all a lot to take in, but everyone is making it a lot easier for me. Practices have been very intense and I was pretty sore my first three days. Now I am getting more adjusted because I am finally getting used to the time and I am feeling less sore.

We just flew out to Tampa to finish off training camp and it is beautiful here. The weather is great and it's a great place to train. However, our coach told us this isn't a vacation and we need to focus on basketball and I think we all agree. We have our minds focused on practicing hard and getting ready for Sacramento on Monday night.

Thursday, May 1 - Greg Bibb checks in.

Happy May Day! This month means a bunch of things to me. Growing up, May always felt like a long Friday as the school year was coming to a close. May also means warmer temperatures and longer days. Finally, May means game time is here as the Mystics prepare for a slate of pre-season contests and tip-off to the 2008 regular season.

Camp Chatter

We are now well into week two of training camp and slowly our veteran players are arriving from their overseas playing commitments. Despite the presence of more and more established players, several of our newcomers continue to shine. This list includes all three of our draft picks.

I also wanted to give a shout-out of gratitude to the Washington Post and our 2008 beat writer, Katie Carrera. Katie has maintained a consistent presence at our camp and has produced some outstanding stories during the early part of our season.

Now it’s off to Tampa to train for several days before playing our first pre-season game vs. the Sacramento Monarchs on Monday night. We’ll then be back in town on Tuesday prior to heading to New York to face the Liberty in a pre-season tilt on May 8. We’ll conclude our pre-season slate at home vs. the Houston Comets on Tuesday, May 13. Tip-off is 7pm.

Finally, I wanted to give a big thank you to the good folks at Trinity University who once again proved to be outstanding hosts for the opening leg of our training camp. We appreciate all you do for the Mystics and hope you’ll have us back again next year.

The Big Game Rewind

By now you know the Mystics enjoyed a pretty decent showing against the DC 101 FM Elliot in the Morning Show last Thursday. After taking an early 21-4 first quarter lead and pushing to a 42-4 advantage at the half, the ladies eased to an 83-23 victory. What you may not know is we had a blast doing it. Elliot and his crew were fantastic hosts who were very gracious in defeat. In fact, they even presented us with a trophy to commemorate our victory.

I would like to thank the University of Maryland for their hospitality. The Comcast Center is an awesome venue and we were treated great during our stay. Finally, please remember to tune into Elliot’s morning show all summer long as he talks Mystics basketball…after all, the Mystics won and it’s time to pay up!

Tip-Off Package

If you are new to Mystics basketball, or if you are a fan who just can’t commit schedule-wise to a full season ticket package, the team has something new for you. We have just launched a “Tip-Off Package” which provides tickets to the first three games of the 2008 season…May 25 vs. Houston, May 27 vs. Atlanta and May 31 vs. Los Angeles. Through this offer, you’ll be here for the home opener, the first appearance of the expansion Atlanta Dream and the Washington introduction of Candace Parker. Moreover, the package includes discounts off the gate ticket price and a meet-and-greet when LA is in town. For more information, give us a call at 1-877-DCHOOP1.

Sharing the Joy

We hit another milestone at home with Adelyn this past week. Much to dad’s surprise and pleasure, Adelyn offered to share her food. Addy made the gesture for the first time on Sunday night and then followed-up by extending the offer again on Monday evening. For some reason, this really impressed me. I feel as if her interactivity and awareness has moved to a new level. Over the past month or so, she has really developed into a little person, rather than an infant. Tara, who gets to spend all day with Addy, was equally impressed but counseled me to manage my expectations and stop with the baby genius talk.

MISL Reunion

I had the opportunity to travel to Milwaukee this past weekend to watch the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) Championship Game and catch up with a bunch of old friends. I spent 10 years working in the MISL and over that time I developed a great love for the indoor soccer game and a tremendous amount of respect for the people who play and work in the sport. Baltimore beat Monterrey, Mexico to claim the team’s fourth title in six seasons while I re-connected with some of my very best professional friends. Good luck to the MISL as it works towards a 2008-09 campaign.

Birthday Bash

Adelyn has been invited to her good friend Elise Espenshade’s second birthday party this weekend, so on Saturday we’ll make the trek to Lancaster County, PA. The party should be a blast as there will be horses to ride, sheep to feed and games to play. I have a funny feeling that this is the official start to my service time as my daughter’s official chauffer and social life enabler.

Website of the Week

Looking for a fun and educational website for your little one? Visit Noggin.com. This site serves as the online home for Noggin, the only commercial-free educational channel dedicated to preschoolers. Noggin.com gives show schedules and information as well as videos from all the channel’s programs. There’s also a parents section that provides a bounty of insight in helping you raise a smart, active, and healthy young person. Check it out and if you like what you see, contact your local cable or satellite provider to find out how you and your family can add the channel.

Quote of the Week

“Success is falling down nine times and getting up ten.”

Final (and sometimes random) Thoughts

• The Lakers looked really good in dispatching the all-offense, all-the-time Denver Nuggets. Could Kobe and crew be poised for a return to the NBA Finals?

• As a Steelers fan, I love the team’s first round pick, Rashard Mendenhall. This University of Illinois running back will make a big splash in the NFL.

• Speaking of the NFL Draft, what are the chances of the first two picks sharing the same last name? It happened this year with Michigan’s Jake Long going number one overall to Miami and the University of Virginia’s Chris Long being selected second overall by St. Louis.

• Mother’s Day is just 10 days away…be sure to do something nice for Mom this year.

• We are just 16 days away from game number one in Indiana! Do you BELIEVE?

Until next time,

Go Mystics!