Take two: Turnover-plagued Mystics readying for Shock

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Take two: Turnover-plagued Mystics readying for Shock

Losing the season opener at home is one thing.Losing because of a steady and at times voluminous amount of miscues is quite another for the retooled Washington Mystics.Really just silly turnovers. Not reading the defense, rushing with the basketball, not making good decisions, said Mystics coach Trudi Lacey, reflecting about what went wrong in game one of the 2012 season.In her dual role as general manager, Lacey overhauled the roster after a trying 6-28 campaign, adding seven new players.It could be a product of so many new faces, people coming late to or missing training camp. Doesnt really matter, said Lacey following Thursdays practice. Weve worked on that and hopefully we are able to read each other better and read defenses.All those mistakes led to being on the wrong end of a 29-8 first half run which put the Mystics into a 13-point halftime hole. A third quarter rally pulled them close. A fourth quarter fade did not.We werent jelling enough I think, said All-Star forward Crystal Langhorne, who led the Mystics with 16 points and eight rebounds against the Sky, but also committed four turnovers. There were a lot of turnovers; unforced, not knowing where people would be. We really cleaned that up this week, worked on our offense.Beyond their offensive miscues, the Mystics allowed the Sky to shoot 62.5 percent (5-of-8) from long range.I was disappointed in our 3-point field defense, Lacey said. We had gotten better in those areas during preseason and then in the first game we got away from that and it cost us.Last season injuries exposed an inexperienced roster that frequently wilted late in games so Lacey traded for and signed veteran players. That steady presence was lacking in the opener.Thats why I brought experienced players in, to avoid the mental mistakes and lack of focus, said a critiquing Lacey, before letting her usual optimistic demeanor seep out.
Saturday, I expect it to be so much better.Thats when the Mystics face the Tulsa Shock (0-2), owners of the WNBAs worst record last season. Thats also when guard Matee Ajavon returns to game action. Washingtons second leading scorer last season practiced fully this week after missing the opener and most of training camp with a sore knee. Shes back to 100 percent, Lacey said. She adds so much to us. She plays both sides of the ballShes a competitor. Its been really good to have her out there this week.Ajavon scored 21 points in Washingtons win over Tulsa last season. The teams split the two-game season series, winning on their respective home courts.Lacey would not commit to putting Ajavon immediately back in the starting lineup - newcomers Noelle Quinn and Natasha Lacy started in the backcourt against Chicago - but said the slashing scoring threat will definitely be on the floor, I can guarantee that.The latest game will also be the second of three straight home dates for the Mystics. With two more games at home, we really need to get our wins before we start going on the road next month, Langhorne said. After the homestand, the Mystics will play five of seven away from the Verizon Center.It may be only game two of the 34-game regular season, but that opening performance, the upcoming schedule and wanting to move on from last seasons woes makes Saturdays tilt no ordinary second game.Were looking at this like its a must win, Langhorne said.

TOMBOY: I don't skate like a man, just a darn good women

TOMBOY: I don't skate like a man, just a darn good women

BY SARAH BAICKER, CSN PHILLY

In late December, I was invited to play in a pick-up hockey game with some other members of the local sports media community. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I was one of only two women there that day. Even now, female ice hockey players aren’t exactly common.

After the game, a reporter I’ve known a while — a guy I like a lot — said to me: “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you skate like a man.”

I didn’t take it wrong, of course; he meant it as a compliment. The reporter wanted nothing more than to tell me I’d impressed him.

I thought about this exchange a lot in the days that followed.

Had someone told me I played hockey like a boy when I was 15, I would have worn that description like a badge.

Hell yeah, 15-year-old Sarah would have thought, I do play like a boy. I’m as tough as a boy. I’m as fierce and competitive as any boy on my team. I would have reveled in it, just as I reveled in a similar label I’d received even earlier in my adolescence: tomboy.

CSN TOMBOYELEVATING THE DISCUSSION OF GENDER AND SPORTS

Yeah, I was a tomboy. I hung around with the neighborhood boys, riding bikes between each other’s houses or catching salamanders in the creek that ran through town. I loved sports, and my bedroom walls — papered with newspaper clippings and photos of Flyers players — were a far cry from the pink-tinged rooms that belonged to the girls at school. 

As much as I could, I dressed like a boy too, even once cutting the sleeves off of an oversized T-shirt before I went out to rollerblade with our next-door neighbors. My grandmother, who was visiting at the time, pulled me aside to tell me I really ought to dress more appropriately. I rolled my eyes.

I was a tomboy, and I loved the word and everything it stood for.

I felt pride in my tomboyishness, believing that the things I liked — the things boys liked — were clearly better than the things stereotypically left to the girls.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit it was a conversation with a 15-year-old that changed my perspective, just a few days after my reporter friend had compared my hockey skills to those of a man.

I sat down with Mo’ne Davis, the female Little League pitching phenom, for this very project. I asked her if she identified as a tomboy, and she shrugged. Not really, she said. Maybe other people wanted to define her that way, she suggested, but that wasn’t how she viewed things.

CSN TOMBOY: A Q&A WITH CSN CHICAGO'S LEILA RAHIMI

You know that record scratch sound effect they play on TV or in the movies? The one that denotes a sort of “wait … what?!” moment? That’s what happened in my head. Mo’ne Davis, the girl who played on the boys’ team and excelled, didn’t consider herself a tomboy?

Something clicked in my head after that. I’ve long identified as a feminist, and I’ve been a big supporter of girls in sports for as long as I can remember. I coach girls hockey, I’ve spoken at schools and camps about playing and working in sports as a woman. For some reason, though, it took a 15-year-old shrugging her shoulders at the label “tomboy” to take the power out of the word for me. Why does one have to be a tomboy, when one can simply be a girl who kicks ass? How had I never considered this before?

In many ways (and especially in sports) if something is male, it’s considered superior. It goes beyond just the things kids like to do, and it’s all old news. It’s also something I’m ashamed to admit I’ve bought into for practically all of my life. But no longer. How can I help change the narrative if I’m too busy playing along with it?

And if I could do it over, when that reporter approached me after our hockey game to tell me I skated like a man, I would have smiled, shook my head and said: Nah. But I skate like a darn good woman.

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3 bold predictions: Washington looks to snap skid in Philadelphia

3 bold predictions: Washington looks to snap skid in Philadelphia

The Caps have lost both of their games since returning from the bye. They will look to get snap that skid Wednesday in Philadelphia against the Flyers (8 p.m., NBCSN). Here are three bold predictions for the game.

1. Washington will lead after the first period

The Caps had bad starts in both of their games over the weekend, especially on Sunday against the Rangers in which they gave up 19 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes. Washington knows that to get back to their winning ways, they need a strong start Wednesday.

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2. Players will be given matching minors

It’s always contentious when the Caps play the Flyers, especially when the game is in Philadelphia. I would call for a fight, but no one fights anymore. At some point, things will get heated to the point that a player from each side will be sent to cool off in the penalty box.

3. Washington’s third line will score

This is not so much as a prediction as it is a challenge. In the two games the Caps have played against the Flyers this season, Andre Burakovsky has scored in both games. Burakovsky, however, is out with injury and Zach Sanford is in his place. The third line has been able to find success against Philadelphia this season and that will continue tonight with Sanford playing alongside Brett Connolly and Lars Eller.

MORE CAPITALS: Sanford is making the most of his opportunity