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.

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Need to Know: Redskins’ Cousins excited to work with ex-QB Terrelle Pryor

Need to Know: Redskins’ Cousins excited to work with ex-QB Terrelle Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 25, 19 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on May 22.

Timeline

It’s been 144 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 108 days.

Days until:

—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 19
—Training camp starts (7/27) 63
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 77

Quotes and notes from the podium

Here are some quotes from Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden from their post-OTA press conference on Wednesday and my comments on what they said.

Gruden on RB Matt Jones’ absence:

“That’s a good question, something that Matt Jones will have to answer. This is a voluntary deal, as we all know, and I can’t force the issue on anybody. So if he’s disgruntled in any way, shape or form, it’s news to me.”

Tandler's take: A year ago Jones was the unquestioned No. 1 running back. After fumbling and then being reluctant to play special teams when the regular season started, he was glued to the bench. The workouts are voluntary and it will be interesting to see if Jones shows up for mandatory minicamp next month if he’s still on the roster. It appears that he does not want to fight to get his job back from Rob Kelley and rookie Samaje Perine. That speaks for itself.

Cousins on adjusting to new receivers:

“Obviously there is a little bit of an adjustment, but we spread the ball around so much. Chris Thompson catches quite a few balls, even Rob Kelley gets involved, we get the tight ends involved. I remember two years ago we lost DeSean [Jackson] for half the season. Derek Carrier played a bigger role when Jordan Reed was out. So you kind of expect a revolving door on offense at a lot of the skill positions and you just start to run plays, and regardless who is out there, you just go where your reads take you.”

Tandler's take: This is a good mindset on the part of Cousins. The Redskins lost two 1000-yard receivers, Pierre Garçon and Josh Doctson, to free agency. Cousins barely practiced with Josh Doctson last year, Terrelle Pryor and Brain Quick signed as free agents, and Robert Davis was a sixth-round pick. These players likely will account for well over 50 percent of Cousins’ targets to wide receivers. But they will not get a sympathy card from the rest of the league. Change happens, both in between seasons and, as Cousins points out, during seasons. Adjustments need to be made on the fly.

Gruden on the NFL shortening overtime to 10 minutes:

“Who cares? [Laughter]”

On changes to the celebration rules:

“You know what, whatever rules they send down, we just try to coach them up. The celebration thing, if it is fun for the fans and the fans really want it, this is a fan league and that’s great just as long as it doesn’t become so much about the player as it is about the team.”

Tandler's take: I think that if most coaches were being honest they would answer these questions just like Gruden did. Overtime is an infrequent occurrence and how to handle the clock on OT probably will not enter most coaches’ thinking before the clock hits 0:00 in a tie game. And as long as the celebration rules are clear and they can teach them to the players I doubt many coaches care if the ball is used as a prop or if players can go to the ground.

Cousins on playing with Pryor, who was a college and NFL quarterback prior to converting to receiver last year:

“I love that you asked that question because it’s even caught me by surprise. I worked with a receiver, Keith Nichol, in college who was a former quarterback, but Terrelle having been a college quarterback and a pro quarterback takes it to even another level. He’s going to hold me accountable because he knows where the ball should go. If it’s Cover 2 and he on Cover 2, if the read is over here, ‘I played quarterback, I know that.’”

Tandler's take: This is an interesting dynamic at work here. Not many quarterbacks have former NFL quarterbacks as their No. 1 receivers. They will be able to communicate on another level compared to the usual QB-WR dynamic. You have to think that it will help Cousins making adjustments in games, with Pryor, who has the eyes of a quarterback, running downfield on every play. Although Pryor is not an accomplished NFL quarterback he could be a big asset as Cousins looks to take his next steps as an NFL quarterback.

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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Capitals ECHL affiliate wins conference, headed to Kelly Cup Finals

Capitals ECHL affiliate wins conference, headed to Kelly Cup Finals

Finally some playoff success for Caps' fans to cheer for. The South Carolina Stingrays, Washington's ECHL affiliate, defeated the Manchester Monarchs 4-3 on Wednesday to win the Eastern Conference and advance to the Kelly Cup Finals.

RELATED: Why the Caps will not trade Alex Ovechkin

South Carolina lost both Games 1 and 2 at home but came roaring back with three straight wins. Manchester was able to force a Game 7, but the Stingrays ultimately prevailed in Game 7 thanks to a third period tally from Olivier Archambault. The win clinched South Carolina's second conference title in three years.

The Capitals currently have two prospects on the roster in South Carolina. Defenseman Cody Corbett ranks second among the team's defensemen in points this postseason with one goal and six assists. Goalie Adam Carlson is serving as the team's backup and has made only one brief appearance.

South Carolina now advances to face the Colorado Eagles in the Kelly Cup Finals starting on Friday in Colorado. This will be the fifth finals appearance in team history. The Stingrays have won the Kelly Cup in three of those four series.

MORE CAPITALS: 20 questions: What direction should the Caps take?