There’s an old saying that the only constant in life is change. I think that thought fits perfectly with what has gone down with the Mystics over the past week. Last Saturday, the team announced the acquisition of all-star Nicky Anosike from the Minnesota Lynx. That important deal turned out to be just the beginning of one of the busiest stretches in terms of roster turnover in recent memory. When the dust had settled on the 2011 WNBA Draft last Monday night, the Mystics had a brand new look (player-wise) to go along with their brand new look (uniforms).
Kudos to Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Trudi Lacey who worked the phones diligently leading up to the draft and whose hard work netted the team a new identity and high hopes for the upcoming season. With three picks spanning the three rounds of the WNBA Draft, Lacey addressed the team’s need for post players by making the following moves:
With the team’s first round pick (11th overall), Lacey drafted University of Kentucky forward Victoria Dunlap. The SEC Player of the Year averaged 13.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while also garnering SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors this season. She leaves Kentucky as the school’s only female player to record 100 assists, 100 blocks and 300 steals.
In the second round (23rd pick overall), Lacey selected Duke’s Karima Christmas. The 6-0 forward was named to the 2011 All-ACC Tournament First Team, capping a career in Durham that produced 7.7 points per game and 4.6 rebounds per contest.
Lacey then picked Sara Krnijic with the team’s third round selection (35th overall). The native of Serbia is currently playing for Pecs in the Euroleauge. The 6-4 center is averaging 12.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per outing.
Not a bad day by any stretch, but Lacey was just getting started. Shortly after the draft had concluded, the Mystics skipper finalized a deal with the Atlanta Dream that sent guard Lindsey Harding and the Mystics second round pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft to Atlanta in exchange for guard Kelly Miller, the eighth overall pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft, Ta’Shia Phillips, and Atlanta’s first round pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft.
Phillips ranked among the top five prospects on many experts draft boards after a stellar career at Xavier University. While there, the 6-6 center averaged a double-double for her career with 14.9 points per game and 11.9 rebounds per outing. She was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year and was a first team all-conference selection following her senior season. Phillips finished the 2010-11 season ranked third in the nation in field goal percentage, shooting 60% on the campaign.
Miller, the twin sister of former Mystics guard Coco Miller, comes to Washington as a 10-year WNBA veteran and the owner of WNBA Championship ring she picked up while playing for the Phoenix Mercury in 2007. The 2004 WNBA Most Improved Player, Miller has posted 7.2 points and 2.6 assists per game during her stellar career.
While the Mystics now look a whole lot different than the team did a week ago, the optimism surrounding the squad has not waned. The new additions, and the return of Alana Beard, promises to deliver exciting basketball to Verizon Center this summer.
Three’s a Charm…Four is Better
Last month, I made a big deal, and deserving so, about John Wall becoming the first Wizards player ever to win the T-Mobile NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month Award for three consecutive months. It was a pretty cool feat to-say-the-least, but this is better…Wall is now the first ever Wizards to win the award for four consecutive months! The former University of Kentucky standout grabbed the honor for games played through April after leading all Eastern Conference rookies in scoring (19.4 ppg) and assists (6.0 apg). He also led all NBA players in steals during this timeframe with three per outing. Wall’s play helped lead the Wizards to a 5-3 record during the team’s final eight games of the season. Not a bad end to a pretty darn good rookie campaign.
A Good Sport
Wizards/Tulsa 66ers forward Larry Owens has been honored as the NBA Development League’s 2010-11 Jason Collier Sportsmanship Award winner. The award is voted on by the 16 NBA D-League head coaches and honors the player who best represents the ideals of character and conduct on and off the court. In five games with the Wizards, Owens averaged 6.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in 22.4 minutes per outing. The former Oral Roberts star also saw seven games of NBA action with the San Antonio Spurs during January of this year. In 43 D-League games with Tulsa, Owens averaged 12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per contest.
Thank you to the Wizards fans for an outstanding season. The team enjoyed an increase in ticket sales, merchandise sales and web traffic this year as a direct result of some of the best fans in the NBA. We appreciate you sticking with us. Good times ahead.
Mystics School Day
The 3rd Annual Mystics School Day, presented by Inova Health System, is quickly approaching. This year’s game, which combines the fun and excitement of a WNBA game with a host of educational messages and learning elements, is scheduled for Thursday, May 26. Tip-off vs. the New York Liberty is at the special School Day time of 11:30am. Tickets start at just $12, so tell your school to get in the game. Give us a call at 1-877-DCHOOP1 to learn more.
Stat of the Week
NBA.com drew more than 1.94 billion video views during the 2010-11 regular season, up more than 140% from 2009-10. Nearly 5.9 billion page views were generated on the site during the season, up 35% (Eric Fisher, Sports Business Journal).
Quote of the Week
“Enthusiasm finds the opportunities, and energy makes the most of them.”
Five Final (and sometimes random) Thoughts
· The Wizards perfect 4-0 record at Verizon Center during April was the team’s first undefeated month at home since a 7-0 run during February of 2006.
· Let’s Go Caps…keep it going in the playoffs!
· Congratulations to Wizards/Mystics Director of Corporate Communications Ketsia Colimon who celebrated her 8th anniversary with the organization this past week. Ketsia ranks as the longest tenured employee on the Mystics side of the organization.
· NBA television ratings are up a big way this season according to Sports Business Daily…30% on ABC, 45% on TNT and 25% on ESPN. Wow.
· Have you renewed your Mystics season tickets yet?
Until next time,
Go Wizards and Mystics!