Happy September everyone! Fall has now begun, and here are the top stories of the week!
Wizards training camp begins
After a long summer, the Wizards have finally begun training camp at the MedStar Wizards Performance Center in Southeast Washington. Media Day was on Monday where we saw the team pledge to talk more on the court than with their mouths. It wasn’t long ago when many pundits though the Wizards were “right up there” with the Eastern Conference’s elite. Now, even with LeBron James now with the Los Angeles Lakers, those same pundits think the Wizards are middle of the pack, at best.
So after a rather turbulent 2017-18 season, keeping a low profile is definitely a good idea.
Greydy Diaz has also spent time on the ground at the practice facility where she had a chance to speak with the players at Media Day and multiple times at training camp last week here and here.
So far, Wizards training camp has been productive. There haven’t been any crazy stories, though Howard couldn’t start camp on time due to a nagging back injury. Because of that, the Wizards will have to play smaller lineups including going to a three-guard lineup according to Ben Standig of The Sports Capitol.
And finally, Ben Standig of The Sports Capitol wrote an in-depth column on Bradley Beal adjusting to fatherhood. It is currently locked to subscribers only.
Ultimately, the Wizards are in good position to have a 50-win season, IF they can get their chemistry going together and if their new additions like Dwight Howard, Austin Rivers, and Troy Brown buy into the system that is already in place. But as Kevin Broom noted, does that matter now? After all, the Wizards have done a poor job putting talent around Wall over the years.
The Wizards have had their moments when the team bought in over the past several years, but I’d like to actually see them be that way consistently throughout the regular season as opposed to a week or two at a time.
Kristi Toliver is making her mark as a coach
The Mystics point guard may have just finished coming off a WNBA Finals appearance, but Toliver is taking the opportunity to work on her coaching, where she expressed her desire to be an NBA coach in the future. Since the Wizards and Mystics share the same practice facility and ownership, seeing Toliver coach a Vegas Summer League game and being a floor coach during training camp is a natural fit for the All-Star.
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks is definitely a Toliver fan, where he told Candace Buckner of The Washington Post that “[Toliver] adds value to this staff. She adds value to our players and she can make free throws, like she did at the end of practice. That was good to see. I just like her. She has a way about her.” He even went so far to say that he thought Toliver has a bright future ahead as a coach once her WNBA playing days are over.
Wall is also a Toliver fan and picks her brain as well:
Guard recognize guard. @JohnWall talks about @KristiToliver at @WashWizards training camp. #TogetherDC #DCFamily pic.twitter.com/djZF1TAW02— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) September 27, 2018
.@JohnWall on having Mystics PG @KristiToliver at training camp. pic.twitter.com/yifhLSam5Z— Greydy Diaz (@GreydyDiaz) September 26, 2018
Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman are in the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup
The WNBA season is over and normally, I would have recapped the season. However, the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup has been going on in the last week featuring the Mystics’ top two players: Elena Delle Donne for the United States and Emma Meesseman for Belgium.
Though she is a All-WNBA First Team player, Delle Donne has been a reserve in the Americans’ games, likely due to the knee injury she suffered in the semifinals against the Atlanta Dream. Her best performance was in Team USA’s first group stage game against Senegal. The Americans won Group C and ultimately faced Belgium, the Group D winners.
And that leads us to Meesseman. She missed the WNBA season this past summer to prepare for the World Cup. This is Belgium’s first run in a world competition and they didn’t want to “make a fool out of themselves.” Meesseman has been remarkably consistent, averaging 17.4 points per game, good for fifth among all players in the World Cup.
In the semifinals, the USA beat Belgium 93-77, but Meesseman had her best performance, scoring 23 points and grabbing 6 rebounds against an American squad that knew who the Belgians were going to center their team around.
Belgium plays Spain in the bronze medal game later today at 12:30 p.m. ET which you can stream on ESPN3. The United States plays Australia in the gold medal game at 3 p.m. ET. You can watch that on ESPN on the regular TV!
That’s all I have for the last week of September. Enjoy the rest of your weekends everyone!