The Mystics kicked off their 2017 WNBA Championship campaign in Indiana Tuesday afternoon against the Fever with a very encouraging 87-67 victory in their first preseason game.
Five players, including Elena Delle Donne scored in double figures. Only one of those five were on the Mystics last year, namely Tianna Hawkins who also had the game high in rebounds. I look forward to her having more responsibility this summer.
Coach Thibault has some tough decisions to make
Obviously, it is early, but it comes as no surprise to me that Natasha Cloud and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt combined for five total points, with TRP going 1 for 6. The last holdover from 2016 on this preseason squad, Ally Malott, chipped in another four points to boost the total for the ‘heirloom’ three players to nine points. That is not going to get it done.
Asia Taylor took the most shots, 11, two more than EDD, and hit 4. She managed 5 of 6 free throws, but I will keep an eye on the shot selection from here on out. Well, at least when they start broadcasting the games, since they are not in preseason.
With Emma Meesseman, Kristi Toliver, Tayler Hill and Ivory Latta all not available for the game, and all of them as roster locks, there is little room for error on the Mystics training roster, veteran or not. I believe that Coach Thibault has a vision and he’s ready to make the cuts he has to in order to prove that he can get the Mystics -- with a ‘Superstar’ -- into the Finals. There is no reason to tarry.
After such a disappointing 2016 season, everyone is on notice by design.
As a team, the Mystics had a total of six turnovers and nine steals. That is a 180 degree change from preseason a year ago, when ONE player had more than six turnovers in a game. And into the beginning of the regular season, when holding on to the ball proved to be one of the larger unforeseen obstacles that plagued the Mystics through a very bumpy start to 2016.
So needless to say, it was refreshing/comforting to see that statistic down to a very acceptable rate. The Mystics also managed to notch 9 steals. Granted, the Fever were also missing five players yesterday: Marissa Coleman, Briann January, Shenise Johnson, Erlana Larkins, and Tiffany Mitchell.
Overall, it was a well balanced effort. Something you would expect to see from Coach Thibault.
But if you are wondering how EDD looks in Monumental Red, check out the highlight, below.
The Mystics are without Emma Meesseman and Kristi Toliver for another week or so, but things are looking quite bright with the new-look Mystics.
There is more to evaluate obviously, but even with one preseason game in the books, the Mystics look ready to compete.