The Washington Mystics knew they would face adversity this season, they are currently sitting in that place right now. They’ve returned home from a five-game road trip that saw them win just once and that win, came at a cost. They have one more game before the All-Star break, Wednesday morning when they host the Atlanta Dream.
Hill was averaging 13.2 points for the Mystics this season, more importantly she’s a two way player that is gone for the season. She was equally as good a scorer as a playmaker, also a very solid defender. In that lone win on that road trip, in Indiana, she tore the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee midway through the third quarter. Washington’s definitely going to miss Tayler the rest of this season, she’s came back from injury before and Assistant Coach Eric Thibault and the Mystics staff anticipate her coming back strong from this setback.
Sucks big time. Tay is strong-willed, we’ll see her back and even better. https://t.co/FPVShdLz4i
— Eric Thibault (@ET_hoops) July 16, 2017
Elena Delle Donne also went down in that game, but her injury wasn’t of the season ending variety. Washington missed both her and Hill in their blowout loss in New York.
While going 1-4 on a road trip isn’t ideal or even acceptable for a team with this type of talent, there are small positives to be taken away. This team is built to compete with some of the best teams in the league. They’re obviously not yet on Minnesota’s level, but they were able to build double-digit leads as the visiting team against the Sparks, Mercury, and Sun. Finishing teams off is obviously an issue, something they had struggled with prior to the road trip. Still, it lets you know that they have what is needed to make a run on this roster.
Washington is 8-2 in their Conference, their first two losses to Eastern teams coming on this road trip (New York and Connecticut). They’re also 7-2 in the Verizon Center this season, so home court means a lot to them. The challenge moving forward is to improve that road record in the second half of the season, it’s a must. Learning how to win is something that is very underrated and often overlooked for teams. What makes a team a contender or a great team is that they are able to put teams away when that time comes, Washington has the ability to do so, but hasn’t done it consistently over the past few years. It’s an area in which they must improve on as soon as possible if they wish to reach their goals this season.
Prior to the recent road trip, Ivory Latta talked about the team’s chemistry and her excitement about seeing how “good this team can be”. While the loss of Hill is a monumental one, Washington still has a chance to find out just how good they can be. Emma Meesseman returned from FIBA play for this road trip and is with the team for the remainder of the season, she came off the bench a couple of times on this trip, but she and Delle Donne’s partnership in the front court will play a pivotal role this second half of the season.
On our weekly television show “The Focus”, Cardell Dudley and I have discussed possible lineup changes several times. Unfortunately due to injuries, that will now come in to play. Mike Thibault is one of the best coaches in this league, we definitely look forward to seeing what adjustments are made in Hill’s absence. There’s no replacing a Tayler Hill with just one player, but Washington has the depth they haven’t had in past seasons to make up for her loss by committee.
Washington gets a chance to head into All-Star break on a positive note, a win against the Dream on Wednesday would be a great way to rebound from a disappointing road trip and a season ending injury.