After a month-long hiatus for the summer Olympics, the Washington Mystics and the rest of the WNBA returns to action this week with the locals playing at Indiana on Thursday. Depending on one's point of view, the break for the Mystics (4-14) was either: Much needed so the players and coaches could analyze and ponder how best to fix the woes of the first half, one that included three losing streaks of at least four games. Or...Poorly timed seeing as the Mystics closed the first half with a rousing 70-53 win at New York, their largest margin of victory on the season.Sure, you can point to the latter position with some legitimacy, but the overall ills during those initial 18 games cannot be denied. Slow starts were a repeat offender; Washington did not own a lead at the end of the first quarter until the 13th game of the season. Spotty point guard play certainly did not help generate consistent early offense.The one constant on offense and on the boardsremains forward Crystal Langhorne, who topped the team in points (16.6) and matched Michelle Snow with a team-high 6.7 rebounds. The former University of Maryland star combined with DC native Monique Currie for 40 points in the victory over New York and tallied 22 points and 13 rebounds in the Mystics stunning 67-66 win over the Fever (10-7) on June 15.Overall the Mystics offense has been stagnant and simply lacking, averaging a league-low 69 points per game. Currie (10.6) is the only other playing averaging double figures, Matee Ajavon (9.2) is averaging nearly five points a game fewer than she did last season, sinking only 32 percent of her shots. The real issue for coach Trudi Lacey's squad offensively comes with those directing traffic. Free agent signee Dominque Canty went from starting point guardto waived after only five games. Second-year guard and former first-round pick Jasmine Thomas is still transitioning into a floor leader role and the growing pains are evident at times.In-season pick-up Shannon Bobbitt became a 5-foot-3 sparkplug for a while, but she failed to tally a single point in four of her last five games. Natasha Lacy also received time, but nothing stuck. Even if the losses continue to mount, letting Thomas and 2012 first-rounder Natalie Novosel take control of the backcourt at some point could be Lacey's best path.Indiana, led by Olympic Gold medalist and small forward Tamika Catchings, ended the first half in second place behindEastern Conference leading Connecticut. Catchings paces the Fever in points (18.2), rebounds (7.4) and steals (2.0), though the do-everything star missed 10 of 14 shots in the June loss to the Mystics. The two sides square off three times over the final five-plus weeks of the regular season including twice in Indiana where the Fever are 6-3.Meanwhile the Mystics lost seven of eight road games with the win at New York representing the only triumph away from the Verizon Center. Seeing as they open the second half playing six of eight on the road, the Mystics better hope they remembered that winning formula.
The NBA All-Star Game over the past several seasons has turned into a light-hearted exhibition game for the league, players, and most importantly the fans.
Apparently no one told Russell Westbrook.
Driving to the basket in the second quarter, Westbrook took contact from John Wall, drawing the foul. When Westbrook walked out to the free-throw line, he shoved an unsuspecting Wall out of his way.
LMFAOOOO pic.twitter.com/NgKrnUHd0Z— NBA RETWEET (@RTNBA) February 20, 2017
Westbrook has always had an aggressive attitude on the court, especially this season following the departure of Kevin Durant from Oklahoma City. Whether it was a playful shove or a just Russ being Russ, Westbrook appeared to be taking the situation lightly afterwards.
Just be sure to remember the last time Wall got into a shoving match.
BY TYLER BYRUM
Coming into the 2017 season, the Baltimore Orioles are looking to build off a Wild Card appearance last year that ended in disappointment.
In the off-season the team needed to address numerous issues along their roster, especially the team’s starting pitching. Without any major moves during the winter, the Orioles will start the season with the 24th best starting rotation in the majors according to USA Today.
Last year the team’s rotation was not that great and a majority of them are returning to the squad this season. Behind Kevin Gausman (3.61 ERA) and Chris Tillman (3.77), the remaining six regular starters averaged a 5.35 ERA. Only one of those pitchers had a sub 5.00 ERA and that was right-hander Dylan Bundy (4.02).
He started the season primarily as a reliever but towards the end of the year he was consistently in the five-man rotation. In the games he started, the right-handed pitcher finished with a 8-5 record. None of the other starters, excluding Chris Tillman, finished the season with a winning record.
Based on essentially no pitching moves by the organization, it appears that the 24-year-old Bundy will be called on to be the third man in the rotation.
READ ALSO: Orioles projected to have a down season
The next rotation spot is lining up for Wade Miley, a starting pitcher the Orioles acquired last season from the Seattle Mariners. Starting in 11 games for Baltimore he only registered two wins.
Leaving only one rotation slot open, returner’s Ubaldo Jimenez, Tyler Wilson, and Mike Wright will be fighting for the spot. Jimenez, who gave up the homerun that ended the 2016 campaign against the Toronto Blue Jays, initially looks to be one of the pitchers to fill in.
While the free agent class was not stellar this off-season, it included two World Series champions Jason Hammel and Edinson Volquez. Other notable free agents were Ivan Nova, R.A. Dickey, and Rich Hill.
Of all the minor transactions the team made in the past three months only one pitcher, Tomo Ohka, has notable experience as a starting pitcher. He turns 41 in March.