The Comet

Mystics Season-In-Review

Jack Corcoran, Staff

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Coming off a dreadful 13-21 season in his fourth season in charge of the Washington Mystics Head Coach and General Manager Mike Thibault knew he had to make a change. Headed into his fifth-year coaching the Mystics and with no real superstar on the team to vault them into championship, Thibault made the move to acquire superstar and 2015 WNBA MVP and Delaware native Elena Delle Donne from the Chicago Sky, in exchange for an array of draft picks and players, including the no. 2 selection in that year’s draft.

The move for Delle Donne, coupled with the signing of former Maryland guard Kristi Toliver from the then WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks, made Washington a definite playoff and championship contender. However, that never quite came together. With guard Tayler Hill tearing her ACL midseason and Delle Donne battling injuries and illness, Washington limped into the playoffs with only an 18-16 record and were swept in the WNBA semifinals by the Minnesota Lynx, who went on to win the championship.

However, this season, Washington has really started to hit their stride, finishing the regular season at 22-12, including a closing 9-2 run in the final eleven games to push them to third in the entire WNBA, giving them a bye into the WNBA’s second round, where they beat LA 96-64 in a rout. Against the Atlanta Dream in the semifinals, Delle Donne dominated, scoring 32 points in a Game 1 win followed by 27 in a Game 2 loss where she was forced to leave with 3 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter with what looked like a gruesome knee injury, and the Mystics chances to win this series were now in serious doubt.

With Delle Donne out for Game 3 with a bone bruise, Washington’s offense struggled, shooting only 36% from the field in an 81-76 loss. However, with Delle Donne back for both games 4 and 5, Washington was able to defeat the Atlanta Dream, pitting them against the Seattle Storm, in the Mystics’ first ever WNBA finals appearance. Unfortunately for Washington, however, they were defeated 3-0 in a clean sweep, failing to capture a game behind a still recovering Delle Donne and a cold shooting performance by Kristi Toliver.

Despite the loss, it is not over for the Mystics. They played the year without star forward Emma Messeman, who sat out for the year due to her obligations to the Belgian national team, and rookie Ariel Atkins, who shined in the playoffs after averaging 15.2 points per game, and she was named to the All-WNBA Defensive Second Team, making her the only rookie to do so. She was also named to the All-WNBA Rookie Team as well. With Messeman back, and with Atkins continuing to grow alongside a fully healthy Delle Donne and Toliver, coach Mike Thibault has turned around the Mystics from WNBA cellar dwellers into a bona fide championship contender for years to come

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Mystics Season-In-Review