The (2-3) Washington Mystics take on the (0-4) Phoenix Mercury for their third road game and potentially, their third win in a row.
When: Sunday, May 29, 2016 at 6 p.m., EST.
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, Arizona.
NONE. But LaToya Sanders is still fulfilling her overseas commitments.
Oregon State standout Jamie Weisner was added to the Mystics last week.
This is interesting because two of Emma Meesseman's fellow UMMC Ekaterinburg teammates, and the assistant head coach, are all on this Phoenix squad. Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, and Sandy Brondello, respectively. Dewanna Bonner is also on the Mercury team and played for Nadezhda Orenburg, the side UMMC beat to win the EuroLeague Women's Championship last month.
I bring that up because I believe it is a significant factor in Phoenix's 0-4 start. Meesseman was on that team, but she just turned twenty-three and did not suit-up in the last week of competitive play due to 'foreign player restrictions'. Anyone that saw her first game back from Europe/Russia knows she was sluggish at best.
I think there is a distinct possibility that the Mercury will pull themselves together, and it could very well be on Sunday.
Keys to the Game
The good news for the Mystics
Ivory Latta is back and drooped 16 points in 21 minutes in our overtime win in Seattle on Thursday night. She crossed the 3,000 point threshold for her career in the game and it was very helpful.
Starters in and LATTA HITS a THREE for 3,000 in her career! pic.twitter.com/roNqUVQxxc— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) May 27, 2016
The Mystics have won two away games, back-to-back. Sure, there is a negative in there, but winning on the road is hard, and bringing that blue collar, lunch pail mentality is essential. Never more so than in this upcoming game.
Washington is fourth in the association in rebounding. That was something Coach Thibault stressed preseason and it is paying dividends. The Mercury are last in the association in rebounding. Yes, even with Griner. Meesseman is averaging 2 more rebounds per game than Griner.
As a matter of fact, in sorting player stats by position at WNBA.com, Meesseman is leading all centers in minutes played, averaging thirty-one per game, is third in scoring average behind Parker and Fowles, if fifth in blocked shots, fourth in rebounds and assists, and first in three-point percentage - Meesseman has bounced back from her overseas campaign.
Let me also point out what could have very likely been her first All-Star nod, if that were happening this year - the Olympics will take precedence - but Tayler Hill is DOING WORK. She is sixth in the Association in scoring average, right behind some very heavy hitters, like Taurasi, Delle Donne and McCoughtry. And she is third in free throw attempts executing at 83 percent. She is playing like a savvy veteran, not a moment too soon.
Adding Latta who absolutely exploded in her return game, shooting 62 percent from two, 75 percent from three, and 75 percent from the free throw line was no joke. We are simply tougher to game plan for now.
The Bad News
TURNS. Turning the ball over has been unduly contagious. That has to be addressed.
The Mystics could absolutely steal this one. The Mercury are a mess, we seem to be gelling better even with the new addition of Latta, and Cloud back in the rotation. If the Mercury pull it together, it won't matter who is the opposing team, but I think the Mystics can get to .500 in Arizona. The rest of the team has to step up, because they will be hunting Meesseman.