Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Guru's WNBA Report: Washington's Charity Leads to Atlanta Spoiling Home Opener

By Mel Greenberg

Hold the new era of the good feeling for a while here in WNBA Washington Mystics land after coach Mike Thibault's team reverted to a flashback of recent seasons in Sunday afternoon's 73-63 loss to the Atlanta Dream in an Eastern Conference tilt that marked his debut inside the beltway at the Verizon Center.

Ten first-quarter turnovers of the type that has caused dismay to folks such as Sunday's crowd of 8,938 spectators since the Mystics' plunge from the Eastern regular season title of 2010 led to a give-away on Washington's part, not that Atlanta didn't do its own usual good work, and after an impressive opening win at Tulsa the local team here is 1-1 while the Dream are off to a quick 3-0 start in the conference.

"Honestly disappointing," said Thibault, who spent the previous ten years as the only coach the Connecticut Sun, following the franchise move from Orlando, had known before being let go last winter for the crime of not winning a championship.

Thibault spent more good days, however, in the land of the Mohegans and casino glitz in Uncasville than the populace here has had to endure though his arrival has brought hope that better times might be ahead.

"The three things we talked about to improve this team for the long haul -- I think we lost all three today," Thibault said in a game reminiscient in some ways of what unwittingly became his moments with the Sun when the regular season East champions lost the conference deciding Game 3 to the eventual WNBA Indiana Fever victors.

"We talked about turnovers, rebounds and free throw difference and they get 19 points (to eight) off offensive rebounds, they get 24 points off our turnovers, and they made seven more free throws than us," Thibault went over the statistical tale of the tape.

"They're not a great jump-shooting team but watching the first quarter it was hard to believe considering what you have to do to play against them."

A close game at the outset became an 11-point deficit near the end of the first quarter, as many as 13 near the end of the next, and as many as 17 early in the third until the Mystics surged to within four points at 48-44 getting 10 of them from veteran Crystal Langhorne before Atlanta stopped the thrust.

Angel McCoughtry, the Olympian, former Louisville star from nearby Baltimore who was the 2009 overall No. 1 pick, and league leading scorer last season, was held to three points and no field goals in the first half before matching Langhorne, the former Maryland star from suburban Philadelphia, for game honors with 15 points each.

Sancho Lyttle had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Dream, Erika DeSouza scored 14, former UConn star Tiffany Hayes, a second-year pro, scored 10, former Mystics player Jasmine Thomas scored seven, while Armintie Herrington scored 11 off the bench. Rookie Alex Bentley, the former Penn State backcourt star, played just under 14 minutes and scored two points.

Ivory Latta, the former North Carolina star and former Tulsa player who had 27 points in Monday's opener against her former team, scored 14 Sunday for Washington while dealing seven assists.

Center Kia Vaughn, the former Rutgers star who had played for the New York Liberty, had eight points and six rebounds while starter and rookie Tayler Hill, the fourth overall pick in April's draft out of Ohio State, had four points and a pair of steals.

A bright spot for the Mystics was the play of Belgian rookie Emma Meesseman, who played inside and had eight points and six rebounds.

"You'd think with six or seven veterans from the league we'd be better than that, but obviously we weren't," Thibault said. "Give credit to Atlanta but, obviously, we helped them, too.

"We took care of the ball in our first game at Tulsa and today we did not. Hpefully, we will be quick learners but if not, we are going to have to dig in a little bit."

Washington has nearly a whole week off before Thibault makes his first Connecticut appearance Friday night since his ouster followed in the back-to-back by returning here Saturday when the dangerous Minnesota Lynx with Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore visit.

Atlanta, meanwhile, is giving early signs that if projections have them missing the playoffs for the first time in three seasons it is not going to happen without a fight.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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