When youre the WNBAs lowest scoring team, succeeding on defense is a must. In the Washington Mystics last outing against Atlanta, that was so not the case. Earlier this month against their next opponent, the Mystics had similar issues when it came to allowing points. Off since Friday, the Mystics (5-18) return to action Tuesday night at Indiana, a locale they have little recent success. On August 16, Washington allowed nine 3-pointers while committing 16 turnovers compared to nine assists in an 84-66 loss to the Fever (14-8). Indiana has won four straight games in the series on its home court.Help is on the way though maybe not in time for the Fever. Washington signedWNBA veteran forward and 3-point threat Iziane Castro Marques on Sunday.Starting with the previous setback against the Fever, the Mystics have lost four of five games since returning from the Olympic break. The latest defeat, 81-69 at home against Atlanta is one of those where the final score is not a true indicator of the action. Washington committed nine of its 18 turnovers in the first quarter, trailed by double figures after every quarter and by 28 points in the third quarter. The miscues led directly to 25 points for the Dream, who also scored 40 points in the paint, many on easy buckets."If you can't take care of the ball, you can't make shots,'' said Washington's Monique Currie, who scored 14 points. "We can't get shots, we're not getting back on defense. They had a layup clinic.''Washington sits four games behind Chicago for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.Matee Ajavon scored 16 of her game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter against the Dream, leading a rally that had the Mystics down 77-69 inside the final minute before time ran out."It was pretty tough to come back from that deficit,'' Ajavon said. That loss is pretty hard.''The addition of Castro Marques should at least make putting the ball in the basket less hard for a team averaging only 70 points per game. Signed on Sunday, the nine-year WNBA veteran averaged 10.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game for her career. The 6-foot forward helped Atlanta reach consecutive WNBA Finals and shot 54 percent from 3-point range during last years playoffs.Collectively this season the Mystics are shooting 30.6 percent from beyond the arc. Indiana ranks second in the WNBA at 41 percent.Castro Marques sat out the first half of the WNBA season in preparation for the Olympics, but she was kicked off the Brazilian national team for violating team rules.Currie led the Mystics with 12 points in the loss to the Fever this month. Crystal Langhorne, Washingtons leading scorer and rebounder on the season, finished with four points and three rebounds in the loss.Indiana forward Tamika Catchings posted a double-doublewith 14 points and 14 rebounds against Washington earlier this month. The Olympic gold medalist totaled 15 points and nine boards in a 67-66 loss at the Vereizon Center on June 15.
Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.
—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105
Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.
Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016
(originally posted January 28)
As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.
The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.
The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.
The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.
While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.
Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.
The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.
WASHINGTON -- On Dec. 19, 2014, the San Diego Padres traded pitcher Joe Ross and a player to be named later -- it would be Trea Turner -- to the Washington Nationals in a three-team deal that included the Tampa Bay Rays.
Since that trade, the Padres have posted a record of 160-215 while the Nationals are 208-166 after they won 3-0 Saturday as Stephen Strasburg struck out a career-high 15 batters in seven innings and the Washington staff fanned 17.
As a reminder of what could have been, Ross (2-0, 5.32) makes the start Sunday against San Diego right-hander Jhoulys Chacin (4-4, 5.74) in the finale of the three-game series at Nationals Park.
First-place Washington is 30-18 while last-place San Diego is 18-33.
Ross was drafted by the Padres in the first round out of his California high school in 2011. Ross is 2-0 in his career against San Diego with a 2.25 ERA in two starts. Last year, he went six innings and allowed six hits and three earned runs in a win against the Padres.
"I was not around Joe at all," said Andy Green, in his second year as the San Diego manager. "We saw him last year; he is a sinkerballer."
The Padres did acquire All-Star first baseman Wil Myers in the trade.
The Nationals have scored a record 62 runs in the four starts made this year by Ross, more than any other pitcher has received in his first four starts of a season. That included a 23-5 victory at home April 30 against the New York Mets and a 10-1 win Tuesday against the Seattle Mariners.
Ross, who broke into the majors with the Nationals in 2015, was in the rotation last season and made 19 starts before going on the disabled list. He was in line to be the No. 5 starter, but began the season at Triple-A Syracuse.
Chacin is 3-2 in six starts against Washington and has a 3.09 ERA. He has made three career starts at Nationals Park and is 1-1 with a 0.45 ERA while allowing only one run in 20 innings.
The Nationals played their second game in a row Saturday without second baseman Daniel Murphy, who was ill.
Nationals bench coach Chris Speier, filling in for manager Dusty Baker, said before the game that Murphy was ill. Murphy entered the day hitting .316 with nine homers and 33 RBIs.
"He's available. This is Dusty's theory: Usually when somebody comes in and says, 'I'm ready,' then he usually gives him one more day. But he's available," Speier told reporters before the game.
Murphy entered Saturday seventh in the National League in hits with 56, just ahead of teammate Bryce Harper (55). Murphy was also among the league leaders in multi-hit games and road batting average.
Washington shortstop Turner, drafted by the Padres in the first round out of North Carolina State, had two hits, including a homer, Friday and was 1-for-4 Saturday.
Another hot hitter for Washington is center fielder Michael A. Taylor, who hit a homer for the second day in a row Saturday and has four homers in his last 14 games.
"I'm looking for my pitch and staying in my zone," Taylor said. "I'm not trying to do too much."