Washington Mystics hope new Coach Mike Thibault can snap them out of two-year funk


New Washington Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault, center, hopes to give bosses Ted Leonsis, left, and Sheila Johnson something to cheer about. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Monique Currie isn’t shy about calling last season, when the Washington Mystics finished with a WNBA-worst 5-29 record,“the longest” of her seven years with the organization. In fact, upon further thought, she said “it can’t get any worse than it was last year.”

But presented with an opportunity during Thursday’s media day to declare a fresh start under Mike Thibault, the team’s new coach and general manager, Currie instead acknowledged the damage done in the two campaigns since Washington won the WNBA’s Eastern Conference regular season title in 2010.

“We do this every year. We have our media day and we are optimistic about the season. We say great things. But I think at this point, we just have to go out and prove things,” Currie, a Washington native, said Thursday at Verizon Center. “It’s a hard feeling, because you saw that potential that was there and we were successful and it can drop just like that.”

Thibault is attempting to guide the Mystics out of this funk as he begins his first training camp at the helm of the organization. Washington is coming off the worst two-year stretch in franchise history (11-57), and Thibault saw an unbalanced roster that lacked a quality point guard and outside shooting but had former all-stars such as Currie and Crystal Langhorne still in the prime of their careers.

So he signed former North Carolina point guard Ivory Latta and forward Kia Vaughn, and drafted shooting guard Tayler Hill out of Ohio State with the No. 4 pick in the 2013 WNBA draft. Thibault also brought in eight rookies, including Hill, and expects three or four to make the roster out of training camp.

“I just felt like you have to shake some things up when it’s been that bad, but you don’t have to blow it up,” Thibault said. “I think the fact that they were that good a few years ago . . . there’s no reason they can’t again.”

Thibault’s track record — he has more career wins (206) than any active coach in the WNBA — has also inspired renewed confidence for players who are all too accustomed to the instability of a franchise that is on its 13th coach and seventh general manager in 15 years.

For instance, Thibault has yet to install a play during four days of training camp, instead choosing to evaluate his players in up-tempo scrimmage settings. It’s all part of his plan to speed up the pace this season, which will begin May 27 at Tulsa, and improve the league’s worst offense.

“He just knows exactly what he wants. You know things are right,” Langhorne said. “Everybody believes in him and it’s going to make it easier on us.”

by Mark Giannotto

Monique Currie isn’t shy about calling last season, when the Washington Mystics finished with a WNBA-worst 5-29 record,“the longest” of her seven years with the organization. In fact, upon further thought, she said that “it can’t get any worse than it was last year.”

But presented with an opportunity during Thursday’s media day to declare a fresh start under Mike Thibault, the team’s new coach and general manager, Currie instead acknowledged the damage done in the two campaigns since Washington won the WNBA’s Eastern Conference regular season title in 2010.

“We do this every year. We have our media day and we are optimistic about the season. We say great things. But I think at this point, we just have to go out and prove things,” Currie, a Washington native, said Thursday at Verizon Center. “It’s a hard feeling, because you saw that potential that was there and we were successful and it can drop just like that.”

Thibault is attempting to guide the Mystics out of this funk as he begins his first training camp at the helm of the organization. Washington is coming off the worst two-year stretch in franchise history (11-57), and Thibault saw an unbalanced roster that lacked a quality point guard and outside shooting but had former all-stars such as Currie and Crystal Langhorne still in the prime of their careers.

So he signed former North Carolina point guard Ivory Latta and forward Kia Vaughn, and drafted shooting guard Tayler Hill out of Ohio State with the No. 4 pick in the 2013 WNBA draft. Thibault also brought in eight rookies, including Hill, and expects three or four to make the roster out of training camp.

“I just felt like you have to shake some things up when it’s been that bad, but you don’t have to blow it up,” said Thibault. “I think the fact that they were that good a few years ago . . . there’s no reason they can’t again.”

Thibault’s track record — he has more career wins (206) than any active coach in the WNBA — has also inspired renewed confidence for players who are all too accustomed to the instability of a franchise that is on its 13th coach and seventh general manager in 15 years.

For instance, Thibault has yet to install a single play during four days of training camp, instead choosing to evaluate his players in up-tempo scrimmage settings. It’s all part of his plan to speed up the pace this season and improve the league’s worst offense.

“He just knows exactly what he wants. You know things are right,” Langhorne said. “Everybody believes in him and it’s going to make it easier on us.”

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