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Mystics vs. Liberty preview: The season finally begins for Washington

The WNBA wants you to believe that Tina Charles will just have her way because she's an American superstar. Our Belgian star has different plans.
The WNBA wants you to believe that Tina Charles will just have her way because she's an American superstar. Our Belgian star has different plans.
Stewart W. Small

After a long offseason and a ton of hypotheticals about "how good will so and so be," we finally get to see what the Mystics are made of. The regular season starts tomorrow, against the New York Liberty -- the same team who eliminated Washington in the playoffs last season.

Where and when

The Verizon Center Washington, D.C., at 7 p.m., ET on Saturday, May 14, 2016.

Tickets

Ticketmaster will have you covered.

TV/Online

WNBA League Pass and locally on Monumental Sports Network.

Main story lines

Washington's backcourt rotation remains iffy

Ivory Latta is still in rehab for her knee, so there will be plenty of opportunities for Tayler Hill, Kahleah Copper and Natasha Cloud to step up in this first game of the season. Hopefully we will see the Tayler Hill that came to play in the second pre-season game against the Minnesota Lynx.

Head Coach and GM Mike Thibault narrowed down the roster this week, and this is who made the cut, below. I have put the number of minutes they played last year next to their last name where applicable:

Dolson 25
Meesseman 27
*Sanders 18
Vaughn 18
Cloud 19
**Ruffin-Pratt 24
Latta 27
Malott 9
Dimitrakou R
Copper R
Hawkins 2
**Hartley 9

*Unavailable **Unavailable to date

First round draft choice Kahleah Copper had a very solid performance in the Mystic's first pre-season game against the Indiana Fever, scoring 13 points and grabbing 6 rebounds in 18 minutes, against the Indiana Fever on Friday. She continued to perform well in the second pre-season game, unfortunately, our second and third picks in the draft did not fare as well and were cut from the opening day roster.

Who's out?

Ivory Latta could return by the beginning of June. Bria Hartley recently had a concussion so she may not be able to start the year. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt may have tweaked her ankle and not be available.

Some numbers on Noo Yawk

Just because I could, I have put together some of, what I consider, interesting numbers regarding the NY Liberty.  Head Coach Bill Laimbeer made some moves in the off season, particularly adding PF Amanda Zahui B. from the Dallas Wings, and picking up PG Shoni Schimmel from Atlanta when she was cut from their roster at the beginning of training camp.

What I have done below, is listed the players with the amount of minutes they played last year next to their names.  I have listed their shooting percentage from the field and three-point range where applicable. NY's frontcourt did not shoot a significant amount of threes last year. [Doesn't mean they didn't work on it.]

I have also added the Zone that is each players' second best shooting range according to the Minnesota Lynx advanced statistics page and sorted it accordingly.

Everyone shoots best at one-to-five feet. So I didn't bother with that, I looked at what their next best percentage was and categorized it as Zone 1: 1-5', Zone 2: 6-10', Zone 3: 11-15', Zone 4: 16-21', Zone 5: 22-25', and finally Zone 6: 26' and beyond.

Here is the NY Liberty roster and where they are trying to shoot from, along with turn-overs, fouls committed, and free throw percentage: *Looking forward to Fouls Caused, helpful.

PLAYER FG/3 % Zone TO FOULS FT %
B Boyd 14 39/27 2 1.6 1.9 71%
*Prince 29 47/36 2 1.5 1.3 90%
Ta Wright 42/36 2 2.1 2 84%
Charles 31 46% 2 2.4 1.6 71%
Zahui B 10 36% 2 0.6 1.9 75%
Stokes 25 55% 3 1 2.2 69%
S Rodgers 19 34/32 4 1 2.1 88%
Zellous 22 38/24 4 1.1 3 77%
Swords 15 51% 4 1 2.8 81%
Schimmel 20 38/38 5 2.3 1.1 86%
Harding 22 34/23 1.5 1.6 75
Alston R
Bulgak R

*Injured. Bummer.

Expect the Mystics to win this one

I think the sting of our playoff loss to NY in the Eastern Conference semifinals last year has got to be a motivator. Adding Hawkins, Dimitrakou, and Copper only adds more depth to the successful team that Coach T has assembled over the last 3 seasons.  There is a comfort level with playing together that should help get over any early season yips, even with several players mentioned above, not participating in the pre-season games.

Stefanie Dolson played with team USA in the off season and Emma Meesseman played with some of the best in the world, as well. They are as ready as you can be at this stage of their careers.

We have one of the tallest and youngest line-ups in the W, I definitely expect opponents to get physical. How will the reffing benefit us? Or not. Good footwork usually makes the difference.

Again, let's keep a close eye on the backcourt rotations because that's the area where the Mystics must improve in 2016 to get anywhere in the playoffs.

I think this is the year that Coach Thibault starts cooking with gas.

But this is cool about the W and playing overseas, Tina Charles dipping on Emma: