Sleepy Mystics seek peppy start against Fever

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Sleepy Mystics seek peppy start against Fever

Most folksrelate to sleepy starts at work. Of course, the typical 9-to-5 crowd has plenty time to catch up over the course of the day, week, maybe longer. Not so for the Washington Mystics. The recent trend of snoozing after the opening tipoff has put thelast place team in the WNBA's Eastern Conferenceinto uphill and ultimately losing situations. No more snooze button: The Mysticsmust right that slumbering wrong - like now to avoid letting the 2012 campaign slip away.In their last two home games, the Mystics (1-5) have fallen behind in the first half by 24 points to Minnesota and 29 to New York. In both cases, furious comebacks took place and deciding points were scored in the final seconds. By the other side. Starting with Friday nights home contest at the Verizon Center against Indiana, Washington hopes it energy is there from the start. There is a four-game losing streak to break and with a West coast road trip looming perhaps a season to save.We keep doing this to ourselves and we dont have all season to learn, Mystics forward Monique Currie said after the 76-70 loss to the Liberty one week ago. We were passive, we were relaxed and we let them come into our home and be the aggressors. We need to be aggressive; we need to not wait until were behind to start playing how we can play. Its too tough to come back and win against these teams. Its possible, but wed make it a lot easier on ourselves if we just stay in the games.After facing Indiana for thefirst offour-game season series, Washington embarks on a difficult three-game road trip, starting in Los Angeles.In their last game, the Mystics allowed the Liberty to shoot 60 percent from the field in the first half. When their defense tightened after halftime, so did the game.When we play our defense, were pretty good, Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said after practice this week. We can turn our defense into offense and thats what we want to do. We just have to play both sides of the ball for 40 minutes.That goes double for Currie, the Mystics third-leading scorer (10.7) and the rest of Washingtons frontcourt against the Fever (4-2), losers of two straight. Indianas All-Star forward Tamika Catchings is third in the WNBA in scoring, averaging 21.5 points per game. The Mystics finished 0-5 against the Fever last season.Year in and year out, Catchings is always somebody we have to deal with, said Currie, herself coming of a season-low two point outing. Shes a great player, shes a tough player, but we prepare the same way that she does. Well do all that we can to slow her down.Getting out to a fast start might help.NotesThe Mystics waived guard Dominique Canty and signed free agent guard Shannon Bobbitt, the team announced on Wednesday.

Three things to know about Ravens fourth-round pick Willie Henry

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Three things to know about Ravens fourth-round pick Willie Henry

As we profile Ravens draft picks, here are three things to know about fourth-round pick (132) defensive tackle Willie Henry:

1. Henry becomes the fourth young defensive tackle the Ravens have drafted early since 2013

They took Brandon Williams in 2013 (Round 3). They drafted Timmy Jernigan in 2014 (Round 2).  They drafted Carl Davis in 2015 (Round 3).

General manager Ozzie Newsome loves drafting defensive tackles. It keeps with the Ravens’ desire to build a deep defensive line that can rotate players in and out, and relentlessly dominate the line of scrimmage.

2. Henry is another player chosen to strengthen the Ravens’ pass rush

With 6 ½ sacks last season, Henry displayed excellent quickness for a player weighing 300-plus pounds. He can bring pressure up the middle. If Henry shows well during training camp, he and Jernigan could be the defensive tackles of choice in third-and-long situations.

3. The Harbaugh family obviously likes Henry

After playing for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, Henry will play for John Harbaugh with the Ravens. Obviously, the Ravens had inside info on this draft pick. We’ll see how much it pays off.

VIDEO: Carlin walks off over 'contract year' argument with Brian Mitchell

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VIDEO: Carlin walks off over 'contract year' argument with Brian Mitchell

Watch the full exchange from SportsTalk Live in the video player above, which will begin momentarily.

Stephen Strasburg is off to a strong start with the Washington Nationals as he sets the foundation for how much his next contract will be worth. 

That became a point of contention Wednesday night on SportsTalk Live when co-host Rob Carlin brought up the idea that, if Strasburg indeed finishes strong, the Nationals will need to discern whether this is the start of a sustainable uptick in production or the product of a contract year. 

Brian Mitchell took exception to that entire notion, saying that it is illogical to think that players play better simply because they are in a contract year. 

The argument evolved from there until Carlin couldn't take it anymore -- and walked off the set. Watch the exchange above.

Caps need to rewrite same old script

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Caps need to rewrite same old script

PITTSBURGH – For the past eight months the Capitals have been telling anyone who would listen that this team is different than the ones that disappointed their fans in the past.

Now they have a chance to prove it.

After a crushing 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins Wednesday night at Consol Energy Center, which gave Pittsburgh a commanding  3-1 series lead, the Capitals were saying all the right things.

“It’s a totally different year,” said Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. “Last year we (were) winning 3-1 against the Rangers and we lost. We just have to have the mentality of shift to shift, period by period, and try to turn it around. Try to win the next game.

“We have to take this experience and turn it around our way. I think it sucks, you want to (win) the game and tie the series, but overall I think we have to play our game.”

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who stopped 30 of 33 shots on Wednesday and has allowed two more goals than rookie Matt Murray in this series, said the Capitals need to rely on what got them this far.

“We’re a good team,” he said. “We have the experience, the composure. It’s just a matter of bringing it to use now. We’ve got to keep pushing forward and hopefully the bounces will go our way sooner or later. Focus on the next game and all you can do it put your best effort out there.”

RELATED: CAPS LOSE AN OT HEARTBREAKER IN GAME 4

The Caps and Penguins played a pretty even game through two periods, with the Penguins taking a 2-1 lead on goals by Tevor Daley and Matt Cullen and the Capitals tying it on a second-period goal by John Carlson.

But with 2:34 gone in overtime, Penguins forward Conor Sheary threw a puck at the net that went off the heel of the stick of Capitals defenseman Mike Weber, who swiped at the puck and sent it directly to Patric Hornqvist. Hornqvist fired a shot between the pads of Holtby as he scrambled back to cover his left post.

“We were OK with (Weber) out there,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “It was more of an unlucky play than anything. We had the puck a little bit earlier and sort of lost it.  It sort of just tied him up and he moved his stick and it went right to Hornqvist. That’s the way it goes.”

Holtby slammed his stick in frustration as he left the ice, realizing the opportunity the Caps had just squandered with Penguins defenseman Kris Letang out of the lineup due to a suspension.   

“It was tough,” Trotz said. “That’s why it’s sudden death. That’s what it feels like. We’ll have to deal with it. 

“This group has dealt with a lot of things. They’ve handled adversity well all year and they’ll do it again. We dug ourselves a hole and we’ll have to see if we can dig ourselves out of it.”

The Caps have not trailed 3-1 in a playoff series since 2009, when they stormed back to beat the Rangers in seven games. But this road looks a lot steeper. 

The Penguins managed to dodge a bullet by winning Game 4 without their top defenseman. And they have not lost three games in a row since late December, let alone three in a row.  

“We’ll have to come up with a Grade A effort on Saturday night,” Trotz said. “The Verizon Center has been a good place for us. I have a lot of trust in this group. It’s shown a lot of resiliency, just as Mike (Sullivan’s) group has shown a lot of resiliency all year. We’ll have to prove it.”

Yes, they will.

MORE CAPITALS: WINNIK LEAVES ICE AFTER HIGH-HIT FROM MALKIN