Sky is falling on Mystics post-Olympics

847859.png

Sky is falling on Mystics post-Olympics

Any thoughts of the month-long Olympic break being a panacea for all that ailed the Washington Mystics during the first half of the season is quickly evaporating. Perhaps returning to their home turf changes the momentum for the Eastern Conferences last place team; it certainly cannot hurt.Dealt back-to-back road games against likely playoff teams opening the second half of the season, the Mystics (4-16) fanned the flames in consecutive. Washington committed 34 turnovers in the two games, and the lowest scoring team in the WNBA failed to crack the 70-point plateau in either contest. Fridays 98-69 drubbing against Minnesota was Washington second-largest margin of defeat this season.None of the players participated in the London games. The time off was used for plenty of practice sessions. The extra work is not showing through just yet."It was tough, but you know we had our whole team here, forward Crystal Langhorne said of the back-to-back scenario. We didn't really have anybody at the Olympics so we had a lot of practice time. We still don't have any excuses for the way we played."One sort of excuse the playing on the road thing goes away Sunday when the Mystics host the Chicago Sky (4 p.m., Comcast SportsNet). Thats a good thing because there is plenty to correct elsewhere."We turned the ball over too much here, Mystics coach Trudi Lacey said following the loss to the Lynx. We had 19 turnovers and they scored 32 points off our turnovers. So that's an obvious area we need improvement on, and really our interior defense and transition defense. I mean, they scored 54 points in the paint, a lot of that came off our turnovers.Washington stands 0-2 against the Chicago this season, including a 69-57 season-opening loss at the Verizon Center.The Mystics roster underwent a major overhaul this offseason with seven newcomers doting the opening night lineup. With so many changes and a small pre-season window with which to mesh, the Mystics used the midseason break as an on-court gelling opportunity, or so they hoped."We worked on our different defenses. We worked on taking care of the ball, and today it didn't show at all what we've been working on as a team, said Langhorne, who scored 12 points against Minnesota, matching Monique Currie and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton for team-high honors.The blowout loss against Minnesota provided Lacey an opportunity to keep her younger and lesser-used players in the lineup. Second-year guard Jasmine Thomas started and scored six points, but missed seven of nine shots and committed three turnovers. First-round pick Natalie Novosel played 21 minutes and doled out a team-best four assists. Wisdom-Hylton sank 5 of 6 field goal attempts and grabbed five rebounds.We used this opportunity to play a lot of our young players and give them some game experience, Lacey said. So we think that will help us down the road."Despite Gold Medalists Sylvia Fowles and Swin Cash on the roster, the Sky (8-10) are enduring their own struggles, having lost five straight and nine of 10 games. The latest setback, 82-76 at home on Friday against Atlanta despite 13 points and six rebounds from Fowles, the leagues leading rebounder with 12 boards per game.In two games against Washington, the 6-foot-6 Fowles averaged 21 points, 14 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.Monique Currie topped the Mystics scorers with 15 points ina 65-63 loss in Chicago on June 1.

Quick Links

Redskins Playbook: One stat where Rob Kelley is way better than Ezekiel Elliott

Redskins Playbook: One stat where Rob Kelley is way better than Ezekiel Elliott

The point here is not to suggest Robert Kelley is a better running back than Ezekiel Elliott. Both players were rookies last season, Elliott drafted in the top five out of Ohio State and Kelley undrafted out of Tulane. 

Elliott led the NFL in rushing, gaining more than 1,600 yards and averaging more than 5 yards-per-carry. Kelley did not take over the Redskins No. 1 RB job until mid-season, and while he didn't even rush for 1,000 yards, he gained 700 yards in nine starts and averaged more than 4 YPC.

There was one stat, however, where Kelley stood out. Pro Football Focus provides the baseline.

The statistic stands out for Jordan Howard, a star rookie runner for the Bears. Howard ran for more than 1,300 yards last season on 252 carries to get to his 40 misses. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Elliott's run totals were much, much higher. The Cowboys star ran the ball 322 times, resulting in 36 missed tackles. Kelley ran the ball just 168 times, and made 35 defenders miss. 

Using basic math, Elliott made a defender miss about every 8.9 carries. Kelley made a defender miss about every 4.8 carries. 

Redskins coaches talked repeatedly about Kelley's vision and ability to make defenders miss as a big part of his ascension to the top running back spot. Ends up, they were right. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Kevin Gausman gets first win since May in Orioles 3-1 win against Blue Jays

Kevin Gausman gets first win since May in Orioles 3-1 win against Blue Jays

TORONTO -- In his final start before the calendar changes, Kevin Gausman made sure he didn't finish the month of June without a win.

Gausman won for the first time in four starts, Mark Trumbo hit an RBI double and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-1 on Tuesday night.

The Orioles won their third straight and improved to 8-2 against the Blue Jays this season. Toronto is 12-20 against AL East opponents.

The Blue Jays have lost five of seven.

Gausman (4-7) allowed four hits in 5 1/3 innings, his first scoreless outing of the season, winning for the first time since May 31 against the Yankees. The right-hander came in 0-3 with a 9.20 ERA over his previous three starts.

"He was really working the bottom of the zone," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He pitched a lot with his fastball early and went to some other pitches the second and third time around ."

Gausman said he's made an effort to mix up his arsenal in recent starts.

"Earlier in the season I got way too fastball-happy in some counts," he said. "That's really something I'm trying to do better, mixing up my pitches, moving up and down and in and out, just trying to keep these guys off balance."

Michael Givens pitched 1 2/3 innings and Darren O'Day worked the eighth. Brad Brach gave up a two-out homer to Troy Tulowitzki in the ninth but held on for his 14th save.

Gausman snapped his winless streak against his favorite opponent: he's 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA in four starts against the Blue Jays.

"He's got a great arm," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He was hitting his spots for the most part, just enough off speed stuff to keep you honest."

Jose Bautista reached on a bloop single to begin the Toronto first, but the Blue Jays didn't get another hit off Gausman until a one-out single by Kendrys Morales in the fifth.

"I get the best view of everybody who gets on that bump," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said, "and (Gausman) attacked that zone."

Gausman left after Bautista singled and Martin walked. Givens began his outing with a wild pitch, advancing the runners, then got Josh Donaldson to line out sharply to third. Justin Smoak walked to load the bases but Givens struck out Morales to end the threat.

MORE ORIOLES: 2017 MLB POWER RANKINGS

The Orioles did all the scoring they would need with a two-out rally against Joe Biagini in the first. Jonathan Schoop singled and Jones walked before Trumbo lined a two-run double to center.

Jones made it 3-0 with an RBI single in the third.

Biagini (2-7) allowed three runs and walked a season-worst four in 5 1/3 innings, losing for the fifth time in six starts.