Turnovers lead to points, that’s the biggest takeaway from Washington’s game against the Indiana Fever today. Indiana got mostly every thing they wanted from the opening tip, starting with the gift that kept giving, Mystics turnovers. Washington never really looked like themselves or the team fans are accustomed to seeing the past few seasons.
Nearly every wart and rlaw were on display during this contest, many of which shouldn’t be taken to seriously as Washington was missing a bevy of players. While the players had returned to the team, they didn’t play and some of those who were here already, didn’t see any minutes. Amongst those missing in action were Bria Hartley, Tayler Hill, or Emma Meesseman and LaToya Sanders who’s yet to return from Europe. Even with those that were absent, the longest any starter from last year played was 22 minutes (Tierra Ruffin-Pratt).
“Most preseason games I do not worry about the score. I worry about minutes for people I need to look at, which we got a good look at today.” – Mike Thibault, Mystics head coach
One of the bright spots for Washington was the play of their 1st round pick, Kahleah Copper. The rookie was very active on the defensive end and did a great job of attacking the basket both off the bounce and off cuts. Kahleah made her presence known on the glass as well on her way to 13 points and 6 rebounds, most impressive was her ability to get to the foul line (nine attempts). Indiana’s rookies Tiffany Mitchell and Brene Moseley made an impact as well with 12 and 7 points respectively. The ageless Tamika Catchings had a quick 16 points in just 12 minutes of play.
Washington got off to a start fitting for a preseason game, sloppy offense and defense that was a step behind. Much of which had to do with the players that are just getting back from overseas and not yet on the court. The Fever looked far more cohesive, but they weren’t exactly in regular season form yet either. Indiana was able to get out to a 15 point lead in the first half with strong defense and a combination of Washington’s struggles to communicate on the defensive end.
That Fever lead was upheld for most of the first half, until about four minutes left. Then Washington made a mini-run, cutting the lead to eight at one point. Indiana would respond, forcing a couple of turnovers and taking advantage of being in the penalty. Going to the line and knocking down their shots, extending the lead to 53-42 at the end of the half.
After not getting the ball inside to their bigs in the first half, Washington started the second half with Stefanie Dolson and Kia Vaughn at the four and five(power forward and center). On the first two offensive possessions, the Mystics got interior baskets from their two bigs. For the first time all game, the Mystics look like the team that made it to the playoffs three consecutive years.
As is typical every time these two teams meet, the Fever would respond, pushing their lead back to 11 late in the third quarter. This game was mostly about the newcomers it appeared, giving them a chance to get extended minutes and live game reps. Both coaches let those at the end of their rotations and fringe roster players get good minutes as the game went on.
In a regular season contest, numbers like 24 turnovers and giving up 40 points in the paint would be extremely concerning from Washington. With this being a preseason game and a good chunk of the rotation not in action, the result means little. Different combinations were on the floor, many that may not be used once the season starts on May 14th.
It was a good homecoming for Maryland’s Brene Moseley, but outside of that it was just a bad showing in a preseason game for the Mystics. Not much can be taken from it as they’re clearly not this bad and didn’t field their full complement of players