Losing campaign winding down for Mystics

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Losing campaign winding down for Mystics

During Michelle Snow's previous nine WNBA seasons, which followed a highly successful run at the University of Tennessee and winning a state championship in high school, she never experienced a losing campaign.Before entering the pro ranks this year as a rookie, Natalie Novosel was one of the headliners for a Notre Dame program that finished the 2011-12 season as National runner-ups.Just two seasons ago, second-leading scorer Monique Currie helped guide the Washington Mystics to the Eastern Conference title and a second straight playoff appearance.Those were the days - and nothing like what trio and the rest of the Mystics have endured in 2012. Well, except for Currie and the handful of others who have now suffered through a second straight trying season. With two games remaining, including the home finale Friday night against Indiana, Washington (5-27) needs to a win to match last season's total of six. Should they lose both, the Mystics will finish the season with a 13-game losing streak, and the second worst record in franchise history."It's hard to believe that just two seasons ago we won the Eastern Conference regular season," said Currie, who returned to a full-time role this season after missing nearly all of 2011 with a knee injury. Once again the DC area native is the team's second-leading scorer (11.8), but in a completely different and bummer of a scenario."This season especially has been one of the most difficult for myself. You have to take the highs with the lows. Nothing comes easily. It's a learning experience - just something I'd rather not experience again."For Snow, a 10-year veteran who signed with the Mystics as a free agent this past offseason, the barrage of defeats has been all about "life lessons.""First losing season, you see things from a totally different perspective," said the 6-foot-5 center. "You realize how hard it is to overcome some of the mental battles. You find yourself constantly trying to keep your confidence and keep your head in the right place so you can be productive and contribute to your team...It's depressing; it's hard to deal with."Crystal Langhorne, the Mystics leader in scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage will miss the final two games with a left foot strain after sitting out Sunday's loss to New York. Washington closes out the regular season Saturday at Chicago.Washington is the only WNBA team averaging fewer than 70 points per game (69.3), ranking near the bottom in field goal and 3-point shooting. Since the returning from the Olympic break in mid-August, the Mystics have won just one game in 13 attempts with many of the losses coming in double figure fashion, twice by the Fever. The team's last victory came more than a month ago - August 19 at the Verizon Center against Chicago."I think that's been one of the toughest adjustments, the losing," said Novosel, who lost all of four games during her senior season at Notre Dame. "Getting into my mind that this isn't how the WNBA is, we're not supposed to have losing season and not to get used to that."The losing hasn't stopped, but the recent effort has improved; in its previous game, Washington led by nine points in the fourth quarter on Sunday before falling 75-68 to New York. "The greatest lesson you can have is to hold your integrity around what you're doing, always keep a positive attitude, continue to improve, continue to work," Mystics coach and general manager Trudi Lacey said. "That's exactly what we've done."While the Liberty remain in the postseason hunt, the Mystics lost that Dream for good during the current skid."It's been a difficult road all season, that's obvious," Currie said. "What hasn't changed for us is we continue to work hard although we continue to work hard, though we're kind of just playing just to finish the season because we don't have any postseason chances."Chances against the Fever (20-12), losers of three straight, perhaps hinge on whether the Mystics can conjure up memories of their 67-66 win over Indiana back on June 15. Beats thinking about the past 11 games.

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Need to Know: Sunday six pack—Cousins' next step, a positive step for Doctson

Need to Know: Sunday six pack—Cousins' next step, a positive step for Doctson

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 26, 11 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 3
—NFL Combine (3/2) 4
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 50
—NFL Draft (4/27) 60
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 196

Sunday six pack

1. JP and I looked at the question of whether Kirk Cousins would “take the next step”. We interpreted the question differently.

Here’s some of what JP had to say:

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

And part of my answer:

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

2. Apprently, Josh Doctson is running and cutting. That’s great but it’s a long way from being productive on the field in the fall. We’ll see how this turns out.

3. The combine is five days away and as of now no Redskins officials are scheduled to speak to the media in Indianapolis. They are one of three teams, along with the Patriots and Saints, no having a coach or GM-type take the podium. Those fans who have wanted the Redskins to be more like the Patriots are getting their wish. Well, except for all those Super Bowl trophies, anyway.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

4. I’m not sure what the chances of Cousins getting traded to the 49ers are but they are monitoring the possibility in San Francisco.

Looking at the list of trades in my friend Matt Maiocco’s post, I think if Cousins is dealt most Redskins fans would like to see something like the Palmer or Cutler trades. Reality is probably closer to the Alex Smith trade.

5. San Francisco signed career mediocrity DT Earl Mitchell, who had been released by the Dolphins.

The deal will pay him $5.5 million in the first year. Mitchell played in nine games last year, starting five. He hasn’t had a sack since 2014 and he has only 5.5 in his seven-year career. This is of interest here because it isn’t good news for a team that will be looking for defensive linemen in free agency. If players without sacks over the last two seasons can get that kind of money, imagine what productive D-linemen will get paid.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

6. Speaking of linemen who are going to get paid by somebody, Chris Baker retweeted this video of his Week 3 sack of Eli Manning.

The tweeter here was correct; Eli was off the rest of the game as I noted a few days later. Baker’s sack was a huge factor in the Redskins’ win.

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Nationals' Bryce Harper mashes monster homer on second pitch of spring training

Nationals' Bryce Harper mashes monster homer on second pitch of spring training

The Nationals played their first game of spring training today against the Mets. They won, but that's not nearly the biggest story of the day. It was Bryce Harper's first at-bat that stole the show. 

On just the second pitch he saw of spring training, from lefty Sean Gilmartin, Harper mashed a ginormous home run to right center field. MLB.com shared video of the bomb. 

According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Harper smacked the ball at least 400 feet. In his second at-bat, he hit a line-drive single on the first pitch. 

Let's just say it was an exciting start to the year for Harper, who won the 2015 NL MVP only to endure a let-down last season. As Castillo points out, the slugger hit .226 against left-handed pitchers in 2016. 

Harper enters spring training at 230 pounds, up 15 pounds of muscle from last year. 

“I just felt going into the offseason you want to get as strong as you can, try to maintain your weight the best you can and just do everything the right way,” he told the Post. 

MORE NATIONALS: Baker thinks DC sports teams can win a championship this year