By Katie Carrera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 25, 2008
Guard Nikki Blue watched the WNBA draft online from Greece, where she was playing basketball in the offseason, waiting to see whom the Washington Mystics would add as her teammate. Once the organization announced its second-round pick, No. 20 overall, as forward Lindsey Pluimer, Blue started screaming.
"We got Plum!" she yelled on the phone to her mother. "We got Plum!"
Blue immediately sent Pluimer, her former UCLA teammate, a congratulatory text message.
"I was so excited," Blue said. "The Mystics got a great person, a great player and I got my friend back."
Reunited on the court at Trinity University in the Mystics' training camp Wednesday, the pair joked as if no time had passed since they won the Pacific-10 tournament championship in 2006, Blue's senior and Pluimer's sophomore season, the year they roomed together on nearly every road trip.
The 5-foot-8 Blue, entering her third WNBA season, promises to look out for her fellow Bruin, offering the 6-4 rookie as much advice as she can handle about turning pro and surviving training camp.
"She's really a helpful resource," said Pluimer, whom the Mystics hope to use as a perimeter threat. Pluimer started every game of her college career and led UCLA with 35 three-pointers as a senior, while averaging 14.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
"Nikki's obviously a calming force on me, too," Pluimer added. "She's one of those people who will always have your back and I've missed playing with her. It's nice because she knows my strengths and she's the one with the ball a lot of the time."
But the two weren't close when they first met. Pluimer admits she was a little intimidated by the more outspoken and exuberant Blue.
"She never talked her freshman year," Blue said jokingly. "She was this perfect little girl from Orange County, and I looked at her like, 'Girlfriend you better get a little dirt under your nails playing with me.' But that year we took a trip to Australia, and that's when me and Plum got really close."
Both players are making their way through training camp facing different levels of adversity. Pluimer is looking to fill one of just a few open roster spots or perhaps outperform a veteran as the Mystics experiment with her at small forward and power forward.
Blue will likely make the Mystics' final roster, according to Coach Tree Rollins, but she wants to ensure it will be as the team's starting point guard and not as a backup for another season. And both players are glad to have someone with whom to share their uncertainty.
"I'm going to take care of her because she's a Bruin, a California girl and we're both fighting to get on this team," Blue said. "We're both fighting for our position and hopefully we'll make the team and win another championship together."
Mystics Notes: The Mystics will reduce their roster to 15 next Wednesday before the final cut May 16. Washington opens the regular season May 17 at the Indiana Fever. . . . General Manager Linda Hargrove said she expects recently acquired forward Taj McWilliams-Franklin to join the team late next week once she completes her stint with the U.S. basketball team during its pre-Olympic training and competition in Beijing.