Emma Meesseman participated in her first practice of the season Friday with the Washington Mystics, who finally have a complete roster following the starting forward’s arrival.
The 2015 all-star had been with her family in her native Belgium after winning the Russian Premier League championship. Also on that team was Mystics point guard Kristi Toliver, who practiced with her new teammates Wednesday for the first time since signing in the offseason.
Meesseman’s flight touched down at Dulles Airport late Thursday night, and she was up Friday morning at 4, the consequences of jet lag.
“It’s something I’m used to having,” she said, “and I know how to get rid of it.”
Meesseman led the WNBA last season in three-point field goal percentage. She is one of three Mystics players who finished in the top four in that category. Elena Delle Donne, the Mystics’ superstar offseason acquisition, was third and Toliver fourth.
With Meesseman in the fold, Coach Mike Thibault was able to experiment in practice with lineup combinations designed to create mismatches. Meesseman, because of her three-point shooting ability, can draw bigger defenders out of the painted area to create less cluttered driving lanes or score over shorter players on post-ups if opponents switch.
The same goes for Delle Donne, who at 6-foot-5 is among the most difficult matchups in the WNBA.
The Mystics at times can field a lineup in which every player on the court is a threat from beyond the arc. Tianna Hawkins, a 6-3 power forward, for instance, has become a dependable three-point shooter after having spent most of her career playing close to the basket.
“We’re just trying to get her back in” a routine, Thibault said of Meesseman. “Luckily most of the stuff we’re doing offensively she’s done before. There’s a few new things, and she’s a quick learner. Biggest thing is to get her out of jet lag before Sunday.”
That’s when the Mystics open the regular season at home against the San Antonio Stars.
Meesseman isn’t staying with the Mystics for very long, however. She’ll play the first four games of the season and then fly back to Belgium to be with her national team for the FIBA world championships qualifying.
She’s expected to miss roughly one month while overseas.
“I know Kristi already, so there’s nothing new to that,” Meesseman said. “But you don’t play with somebody for six months, it’s hard. You can’t get that rhythm back [immediately], but I know what they can do, what they’re capable of. I think it’s just going to take a couple of practices just to get used to playing, especially with Elena, on the floor, but it feels good already.”