As the architect of the Washington Mystics’ offseason roster shakeup, Coach-General Manager Trudi Lacey figured it would take time for her team filled with veteran newcomers to get comfortable. Once they had learned to play together, Lacey expected her new-look squad to be competitive on a nightly basis.
Four months into the season, Washington has rarely been able to sustain a complete effort for an entire game.
The Mystics (5-25) enter Friday’s 7 p.m. game against the Atlanta Dream (17-14) at Verizon Center having lost a season-high nine games in a row and 11 of 12 games since the Olympic break. If the team were to go winless in its final four games, it would finish with its fewest victories since posting a 3-27 mark in its inaugural 1998 season.
“It didn’t turn out the way we had hoped,” said Lacey, who took over both duties before last season, “but that doesn’t mean we haven’t continued to work and try to improve and always try to get better.”
In a league where eight of 12 teams qualify for the postseason, the Mystics came out of their month-long break with a chance to get into contention with a fast start. Instead, eight of their 11 losses have been by double digits.
Those troubles continued Wednesday at New York. Washington was in position to claim just its second road win of the season, leading by four points late in the third quarter, but missed 13 of its final 16 shots in a 75-62 loss.
“Right now, we’re just kind of playing for next year, seeing what players can do individually, [looking at] things we can work on and trying to play well,” said forward-center Crystal Langhorne, the team’s leading scorer who has been playing but not practicing recently as she nurses a sore left knee.
The Mystics arrived by train at Union Station at 1:30 a.m. Thursday after the loss to the Liberty and were back at Verizon Center for an afternoon workout that Lacey cut short by about a half-hour and kept light by playing music.
“I won’t say I’ve done everything to keep them motivated, but pretty close,” Lacey said. “Throughout, despite the losses, they have worked hard and I felt like fought hard.”