December 15, 2019

Washington Mystics Game 1 Recap: Mystics drop season opener to Lynx, 89-77

The Washington Mystics kicked off their 2014 season against the reigning WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx at Verizon Center Friday night, but fell 89-77. The Mystics trailed almost the entire game, aside from a brief 66-65 lead in the 4th quarter.

After trailing 0-17 during the first quarter, Coach Thibault credited the players who started the second half with jumpstarting the team’s offense.

”We made our own mistakes, but the effort particularly that second group in the first half that got us back in the game and brought some order out of the chaos was good,” Thibault said. ”When we got the lead I thought maybe we had turned the tide.”

Ivory Latta led the team in scoring with 25 points, and scored 7 three-pointers, a career-high, and scored 16 of Washington’s 23 points in the third quarter. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scored 17 points, and led the team in defensive rebounds, with 5.

First-round pick Stefanie Dolson scored her first career WNBA points in the first half on two consecutive jump shots. Dolson’s former University of Connecticut teammate and fellow first-round draft pick Bria Hartley finished the night with 4 points.

Thought the Mystics rallied from multiple deficits, they were simply outplayed by the Lynx, who excelled at the fundamental elements of the game.

“We did a few things well, but we got beat in almost every phase of the game,” said Thibault. “We got beat on the boards, the free throw difference was interesting, and we didn’t offensive rebound, which was a problem all preseason. We’re not making enough shots and we’re not getting second-chance points, which kills you.”

The Lynx finished with 10 rebounds to the Mystics 4, and 11 offensive rebounds to Washington’s 4. Minnesota was also better in the paint, scoring 44 points in the paint to the home team’s 26.

“I don’t know what to make of some of it, but I just try to look on the bright side and figure out a way.”

On a team full of rookies and second-year players, there was plenty of good and bad to take away from the loss. Coach and players echoed the same tune – the team is young, and needs time to develop chemistry on the court. They have a week to work on that, as they don’t play the Indiana Fever, their second matchup of the 2014 season, until May 23.

 

Mystics’ Head Coach Mike Thibault Speaks at Team Media Day

At the Washington Mystics’ team media day on April 28th, head coach Mike Thibault took some time to chat with the media about the upcoming season. As he heads into his second year with the team, he answered questions on their youth, schedule, as well as his take on Donald Sterling.

A lot of offseason moves. What does that add up to for the season?

“Well, if it was an 82-game season, I wouldn’t be as nervous because we’re really young. We’re going to one of the two or three youngest teams in the league. In a 34-game season, you don’t have a lot of room for error. Probably the good part — there’s a couple other good teams in our conference kind of going through the same thing. But, we’re going to have to rely on our veterans to kind of get us going with all these young faces. Probably by opening day roster, we’re going to have seven or eight, six or seven players on our team that are one or two year players in the league. That’s a little scary sometimes as a coach, but we knew what we were getting in for when we made the changes. It’s a long term plan as much as a short term plan.”

With the youth and the new faces, is chemistry and working on that in the preseason as important as the X’s and O’s?

“I actually think that’ll be the easiest part. I think the chemistry because you have high energy people like Ivory [Latta] and Kia Vaughn and [Monique Currie] already here and personalities, I think the did a good job with our rookies that came in last year and I think that’ll carry over. The rookies that are coming in this year, particularly [Stefanie] Dolson and [Bria] Hartley, they are high energy players to start with. They are great personalities. We’re going to have more media darlings in our locker room this year than most any team in the league just because they’re all gregarious and they’re willing to talk. I think the chemistry will actually be the easiest part of it.”

Are you going to lean on those veterans to help propel that chemistry?

“Very much so. I’ve talked to them. When you talk about Kara Lawson and Ivory Latta and Kia Vaughn and Monique Curry, they need to step up and be accountable right away for everybody else. I’m sure that’s what they’ll do. They’ve embraced the changes and I think the hardest person this’ll be a change for his [Monique Curry] because number one, [Crystal] Langhorne was a long-time teammate and friend, and number two, she’s the only one remaining from when I came here over a year ago. It’s kind of one those you look around the locker room and she’s going ‘Oh my goodness. Where’d everybody go?’ But, at the same time I think she’ll be revitalized too by the new teammates that she has.”

If you’re going to get to players from any college this year, Connecticut’s a good way to go.

“Yeah they’re used to winning. They haven’t lost too many games in their lifetime so that’ll be a great thing. You know the funny part about it is there is a little bit of a converse that though is that they’ve never played in very many close games. It seems like in every game in our league you’re down to the wire most nights. So that’s going to be an actual big adjustment. I remember when I coached Tina Charles at Connecticut. Her biggest adjustment was being in a two or three point game night after night after night because those guys are blowing everybody out every night. That’ll take a little bit of getting used to. You know, the rules at the end of games. How much every timeout and possession means at the end of the game. That’ll be an adjustment.”

The center position has been a bit of a revolving door over the years. How much does [Stefanie] Dolson bring for you?

“Well, she brings versatility for one thing. You compare her up with Kia Vaughn and Emma [Meesseman] and others and Tianna [Hawkins] and let them play both positions. She’s able to post on the block. She’s able to play at the high-post. She’s a terrific passer. She can shoot a three and she can post up. Her shooting percentage has always been above 50 percent. You’re looking a versatile center who’s played in a couple different styles. When she was first at Uconn, she played mostly in the low post. He last two years, she played more in the high post. She’s been able to do it both ways and I think she’ll adjust to the things we’re trying to do.”

You look at rebounding as a strength, particularly after adding Stefanie [Dolson] and Tianna Hawkins.

“I think it is now; it wasn’t last year. I think we were a middle of the pack rebounding team. We became a pretty defensive rebounding team by the end year. We need to be a better offensive rebounding team and I think that’ll help. I think that, surprisingly, Kara Lawson is a good rebounding guard. Monique Currie, last year, had one of her best years as a rebounder. I think, overall, our team rebounding will get better this year because of the additions.”

Do have a sense yet of what the personality of this team on the floor will be?

“Fun. I think we’ll be an up-tempo team offensively. We’re going to push the ball. You have, potentially if you start Ivory [Lattan], Kara [Lawson] and [Monique Currie], three of the best three-point shooters in the league all on one team, and then you have mix and match post-up combinations. You can start Kia [Vaughn] and [Stefanie] Dolson, or Emma [Meesseman], Tianna [Hawkins], all of them are in the mix. You can have a very versatile offense. Last year, one of our biggest strengths was our bench. We had the highest scoring bench in the league for most of the year with Emma Meesseman, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and [Nadirah] McKenith and people like that. We don’t have a star. The fact of the matter is, until we made the trade for Kara [Lawson], until we drafted [Stefanie] Dolson, we had no player in the USA Basketball pool for potential player for the national team. Those two are on it, but we don’t have that kind of a team. We’re going to have to be the sum of our parts. If we have five people in double-figures and get 14 a night, that’s fine with me. It makes it tough for teams to lock in on one player, too.”

Does what’s happening with the Wizards help with you guys at all in terms of atmosphere, seeing what it is to see a team in the post season and to have that type of success?

“I think it helps. It was nice to bring them all to playoff game and to see what that’s like. A lot of these players have experience in major NCAA games, but only a couple have playoff experience in our league. So to be around that and to see the excitement I think can only help us.”

Is this young team poised to make a run to the playoffs this year?

“I think so. What I told them in our first meeting is that it’s going to be harder this time around. We’re going to have a little bit more of a target on our back. You’re not going to sneak up on anybody. But, everybody else in our conference has gotten better, too, in different ways. New York added Tina Charles. Connecticut is younger, but they have great athletes. What we did last year is become average. It was fun and it was excited, everything we did, but the reality is that at the end of the year we were 17-17. The next step to becoming an elite team is a lot harder. The only way you can do that is by being at attention to detail. By minimizing mistakes and those kinds of things. Yet still kind of have that same fun loving, up tempo feel to our team that we did last year. You just have to be better. You have to execute better. You have to be better at the end games than you were. That’s just going to be the test of how fast we mature.”

What will Kara [Lawson] bring to the table for you guys this season?

“Well, the first thing she’ll bring is experience of being on a winning team for most of her career. She’s won a championship. She’s been in the playoffs in Connecticut. She’s been on the Olympic team. She knows how to go about being a pro everyday. She’s a terrific shooter, it’ll stretch the floor for us. The fact that she can play both guard spots puts a lot of pressure on the other teams. We give up a little size defensively. Matee [Ajavon] was a good defensive player. But, we weren’t a great outside shooting team other than Ivory [Latta] and [Monique Currie] for the most part. It’s going to be a situation now where we can put the fear of God in people in terms what we can do scoring the ball.”

With the schedule this year. Anything that helps you or hurts you?

“I don’t know how the schedule is going to work out. The only good part about our schedule is that we don’t play a lot of games early. We’re probably going to be in a mode of having a second training camp after our home opener because Emma Meesseman is going to be here late, some of our post players are coming in next week. We could probably use that extra week to catch up a little bit. As far as opponents, it seems to be every time I look at the schedule it all looks hard to me because everybody in this league is pretty close. The worst team and the best team are not separated by that much.”

Has Stefanie Dolson challenged you to a dance off yet?

“No. But, I’ll work on my game a little bit on that. She might get surprised about that.”

[Regarding Donald Sterling] Anything you want to say about all that?

“I think most everything has been said. My position is that doesn’t belong anywhere in society and it doesn’t anywhere in our sport. It’s an NBA and societal thing. As a WNBA coach, I don’t know if it’s my place to comment on beyond that the league is obviously going to do what they know is right. That’s just not a part of who we are or what we should be and I’m saddened that it’s happened. Beyond that, it’s something that’s going to have to take it’s time to play out in the proper channels. As much as we may think or we may not think that something should happen right away, in our country we have a little bit of due process so I guess we’ll let it play out.”

Washington Mystics trim roster to 12

From the team’s press release:

Washington, D.C. – The Washington Mystics waived the following players: Cierra Bravard, Kirby Burkholder, Haley Peters and Rachel Tecca.  Washington will play their first preseason game of the 2014 season on May 6 in Indiana against the Fever. The roster currently stands at 12.

Ruffin-Pratt Returns to Mystics Roster

Mystics Press Release Logo

RUFFIN-PRATT RETURNS TO MYSTICS ROSTER
Team Adds Mathies and Milovanovic To Training Camp Roster

Washington D.C. — Washington Mystics Head Coach and General Manager Mike Thibault announced today that guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt will return to the team for the 2014 season.

Ruffin-Pratt joined the Mystics in 2013 as a free agent and played in every game. She averaged 4.4 points per game and 2.8 rebounds during the regular season and 5.7 points per game during the playoffs. Ruffin-Pratt led the University of North Carolina to the 2013 ACC tournament and earned All-ACC First Team honors. The Alexandria native attended TC Williams High School and was a two-time Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year.

The Mystics also announced that they have added guard A’dia Mathies and forward Jelena Milovanovic.

Washington claimed Mathies off waivers from the Los Angeles Sparks and was awarded her rookie contract by the WNBA. She attended the University of Kentucky and was drafted in the first round (10th overall) by the Los Angeles Sparks. She is Kentucky’s all-time leader in steals (320) and games played (140) and second all-time leading scorer (2,014). Mathies earned numerous honors including SEC player of the Year (2012, 2013) as well as All-SEC First Team (2012, 2013). She recorded averages of 2.3 points per game in 30 games for the Sparks last season.

Milovanovic was drafted by the Mystics in the second round (24th overall) of the 2009 WNBA Draft but spent the last four years playing professionally in Europe. The 6-3 forward has played for Dynamo Kursk of the Russian league for the last two years and currently averages 11.2 points per game and 4.2 rebounds per game.

The Mystics recently acquired guard Kara Lawson and will have three picks (sixth, 30th and 32nd) in the 2014 WNBA draft to be held on April 14 at 8:00 pm on ESPN2. The Washington Mystics will open the season on Friday, May 16, at 7:00 pm against the reigning WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx. In 2013, Coach Mike Thibault led the Mystics back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season while earning Coach of the Year Honors.

The WNBA’s Washington Mystics are owned and operated by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which is one of the largest integrated sports and entertainment companies in the country with one of the most diverse partnership groups in all of sports. The group also owns and operates the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals and Verizon Center – the premier sports and entertainment venue in Washington, D.C. Monumental Sports & Entertainment also oversees the management of Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the state-of-the-art training facility for the Capitals, and George Mason University’s Patriot Center.

Washington Mystics 2014 Preseason Schedule

Mystics Press Release Logo

The Mystics will face the Indiana Fever twice, including their annual preseason school day on May 7 at Verizon Center at 11:30 a.m. The two teams will first meet on May 5 for a 12:00 p.m. contest in Indianapolis and the Mystics will close out the preseason when they play the Chicago Sky on Tuesday, May 13, at 7:00 pm on the campus of the University of Delaware

The Washington Mystics will open the 2014 season on Friday, May 16 at 7:00 pm against the reigning WNBA Champions Minnesota Lynx. In 2013, Coach Mike Thibault led the Mystics back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season while earning Coach of the Year Honors. Season tickets for the 2014 season are currently on sale and can be purchased by calling the Mystics Sales Office at 1-877-DC-HOOP1 or by visiting the Mystics web site at www.washingtonmystics.com.

The WNBA’s Washington Mystics are owned and operated by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which is one of the largest integrated sports and entertainment companies in the country with one of the most diverse partnership groups in all of sports. The group also owns and operates the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals and Verizon Center – the premier sports and entertainment venue in Washington, D.C. Monumental Sports & Entertainment also oversees the management of Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the state-of-the-art training facility for the Capitals, and George Mason University’s Patriot Center.

Mystics to Play Chicago in Preseason Game

Mystics Press Release Logo

MYSTICS TO PLAY CHICAGO IN PRESEASON GAME

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Washington Mystics will face the Chicago Sky in a preseason game to be played on Tuesday, May 13, at 7 pm on the campus of the University of Delaware. The team will organize a bus trip to give Mystics fans the chance to attend the game.

For more information on the Mystics’ trip to Delaware, please call 1-877-DC-HOOP-1. Tickets will go on sale on Monday, March 3, by calling 1-800-745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

The Washington Mystics will tip off the 2014 season at home against the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx on Friday, May 16, at 7 pm.

Washington Mystics Announce 2014 Schedule

Mystics Press Release Logo

MYSTICS ANNOUNCE 2014 SCHEDULE

Washington, D.C. –The WNBA announced today that the Washington Mystics will tip off the 2014 season at home against the defending WNBA champions Minnesota Lynx on Friday, May 16, at 7 pm. It will be the eighth time in the franchise’s 17-year history that they will host their season opener at home.

Following their home opener, the Mystics will travel to Indiana to face the Fever on May 23 and will return home for contests against the Seattle Storm, New York Liberty and Los Angeles Sparks

“We have our work cut out for us, but I am excited to see what is in store and looking forward to getting started with training camp in April,” said head coach & general manager Mike Thibault. “We have a difficult start to the season with the last two league champions, first at home against the Lynx and then on the road at Indiana, and some very tough stretches of road games in the middle of the season, but I know our team will be up for the challenge.”

This year, the Mystics will hold two camp day games for local children’s camps and groups. The first one will be on Wednesday, July 23, at 11:30 am against the Connecticut Sun and another on Wednesday, Aug. 13, against the Chicago Sky at 11:30 am.

The team’s west coast swing will be in July with stops in Tulsa (July 12), Phoenix (July 15) and Los Angeles (July 17). The Mystics will play 12 of their 17 regular season homes games on the weekend. All weekday (with the exception of the camp days) and Saturday home games will tip off at 7:00 p.m. Sunday home games will start at 4:00 pm.

In 2013, Thibault led the Mystics back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season. He also became the WNBA’s winningest coach following the Mystics’ 62-59 win over the Seattle Storm on July 6 and earned WNBA Coach of the Year honors.

The WNBA’s Washington Mystics are owned and operated by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which is one of the largest integrated sports and entertainment companies in the country with one of the most diverse partnership groups in all of sports. The group also owns and operates the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals and Verizon Center – the premier sports and entertainment venue in Washington, D.C. Monumental Sports & Entertainment also oversees the management of Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the state-of-the-art training facility for the Capitals, and George Mason University’s Patriot Center.

The following is a complete listing of the Mystics 2014 schedule. Home games are in BOLD. All times are listed as Eastern Daylight Time.

2014 Washington Mystics Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME TV

May Fri. 16 Minnesota 7:00 pm
Fri. 23 AT Indiana 7:00 pm
Sat. 24 Seattle 7:00 pm
Fri. 30 New York 7:00 pm
Jun. Sun. 1 Los Angeles 4:00 pm
Thu. 5 AT Connecticut 7:00 pm
Fri. 6 Indiana 7:00 pm
Sun. 8 AT New York 3:00 pm
Tue. 10 Phoenix 7:00 pm
Fri. 13 Chicago 7:00 pm
Sun. 15 Atlanta 4:00 pm
Wed. 18 AT Atlanta 12:00 pm
Fri. 20 AT Minnesota 7:00 pm
Sun. 22 AT Seattle 6:00 pm
Tue. 24 AT San Antonio 11:30 am
Fri. 27 Connecticut 7:00 pm
Sun. 29 San Antonio 4:00 pm
Jul. Wed. 2 Indiana 7:00 pm
Sat. 5 AT Atlanta 7:00 pm
Wed. 9 AT Chicago 11:30 am
Sat. 12 AT Tulsa 7:00 pm
Tue. 15 AT Phoenix 7:00 pm ESPN2
Thu. 17 AT Los Angeles 7:30 pm
Wed. 23 Connecticut 11:30 am
Fri. 25 Tulsa 7:00 pm
Sun. 27 Atlanta 4:00 pm
Tue. 29 AT New York 7:00 pm
Aug. Sun. 3 AT Chicago 5:00 pm
Tue. 5 New York 7:00 pm
Fri. 8 AT Indiana 7:00 pm
Sun. 10 AT Connecticut 1:00 pm
Wed. 13 Chicago 11:30 am
Fri. 15 AT Connecticut 7:00 pm
Sat. 16 New York 7:00 pm

MYSTICS: Ivory Latta Named Eastern Conference Player of the Week

Washington Mystics Press Release Logo 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Washington Mystics guard Ivory Latta received Eastern Conference player of the week honors for the third time this season for her performance against the Indiana Fever, Connecticut Sun and New York Liberty.

In the Mystics’ 69-67 win over the Fever, Latta scored 15 points and dished out four assists. The victory helped Washington secure a playoff berth. She followed with a 19-point, five-assist outing against the Sun and closed out the regular season against the Liberty by scoring 12 points and recording two assists.

The Mystics (17-17) will open the 2013 postseason against the Atlanta Dream (17-17) on Thursday, Sept. 19, in Atlanta at 8:00 p.m. in a game that will be broadcast on ESPN2.

The Mystics will host the Dream on Saturday, Sept. 21, at Verizon Center. Tipoff is at 7:00 pm. Tickets for the Washington Mystics First Round playoff games start at $12 and are currently on sale on www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-877-DC-HOOP-1.

MYSTICS: Washington Mystics Playoff Tickets on Sale

Washington Mystics Press Release Logo 2013Washington, D.C. – Tickets for the Washington Mystics’ first round playoff game are currently on sale at www.washingtonmystics.com or by calling 1-877-DC-HOOP-1. Under the leadership of Head Coach Mike Thibault, the Mystics have returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season. The date and time for the first round game is still to be determined.

The Mystics have two games left which will determine seeding for the conference semifinals. Currently, the team is in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Washington will face the Connecticut Sun this Friday at 7:00 p.m. and will close out the regular season against the New York Liberty on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. Both games will take place at Verizon Center.

MYSTICS: Mike Thibault Becomes WNBA’s All-Time Winningest Coach

Washington Mystics Press Release Logo 2013

MIKE THIBAULT BECOMES WNBA’S ALL-TIME WINNINGEST COACH

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the Washington Mystics’ 62-59 win over the Seattle Storm, head coach Mike Thibault became the WNBA’s all-time winningest coach with 212 victories surpassing former Houston Comets coach Van Chancellor.

“I’m glad this game is done. Everybody else has been talking about it. I guess it’s one of those things that you’ll think more about when your career ends or at the end of the season but right now we’re trying to make some history here,” said Thibault. “The other part of it is that I’m kind of in awe that I passed Van Chancellor who won four championships in this league and was a cornerstone with the start of this league. I have a great relationship with him and I thought a lot about him at the end of the night because of what he accomplished in this league.”

Thibault joined the WNBA in 2003 as the coach of the Connecticut Sun where his team made eight playoff and two WNBA finals appearances. A two-time WNBA Coach of the Year (2006, 2008), Thibault has coached some of the league’s most prolific athletes in the last decade. They include Seimone Augustus, Tina Charles, Asjha Jones, Tina Thompson, and Lindsay Whalen.

“First of all, I want to say how proud we are to have Mike Thibault as our coach,” said Monumental Sports & Entertainment Vice Chairman Sheila C. Johnson. “To have achieved this feat is a tribute to him as a teacher and a leader.”

Prior to joining the Sun in 2003, Thibault has spent numerous years in various roles with NBA teams. He was an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks. He also served as a scout for the Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks. He served as the director of scouting for the Chicago Bulls during a time when the organization selected Michael Jordan, Charles Oakley and John Paxson.

Thibault also has extensive experience in both minor league basketball and with USA Basketball.

The WNBA’s Washington Mystics are owned and operated by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which is one of the largest integrated sports and entertainment companies in the country with one of the most diverse partnership groups in all of sports. The group also owns and operates the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals and Verizon Center – the premier sports and entertainment venue in Washington, D.C. Monumental Sports & Entertainment also oversees the management of Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the state-of-the-art training facility for the Capitals, and George Mason University’s Patriot Center.

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