Washington Mystics Coach and General Manager Mike Thibault had to chuckle while running down the list of maladies his team has dealt with so far this season.
There’s Elena Delle Donne, who hasn’t played in a game since she logged just 13 minutes in a victory over the Minnesota Lynx on May 27, dealing with an illness that’s being closely monitored because of her history with chronic Lyme disease. Natasha Cloud has missed three games because of kidney stones, which as of Tuesday she had still not passed. The team recently got LaToya Sanders back in action after the forward missed the first five games of the season with anemia.
As if that’s not enough, starting guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt sat out Tuesday’s practice with a sore jaw after she took a hard fall at Phoenix last week and got clocked in the face during Sunday’s loss to Connecticut. Point guard Tayler Hill is still recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament tear from last summer.
“I was talking with Eric [Thibault], and we almost had to laugh,” Mike Thibault said, referring to the Mystics’ assistant coach who is also his son. “On this team, we have more non-basketball injuries than basketball injuries. Too bad it’s not really funny.”
Of biggest concern for the Mystics (5-3) is Delle Donne, who was yanked early from the May 27 game at Capital One Arena because of what was then suspected to be dehydration and was later simply referred to as an “illness.”
The star forward is listed as questionable for Thursday’s 4 p.m. game against the defending WNBA champion Lynx (2-5). On Sunday, Thibault gave an estimate of 7-10 days for her return, and guessed her first game back would be against Connecticut on June 13.
The good news for the Mystics is Delle Donne felt well enough to practice Tuesday. She didn’t participate in all of the team’s drills but was able to run through some, including those that required contact.
Delle Donne has been experiencing flu-like symptoms, although she and her doctors aren’t quite sure what the illness is. Because the 28-year-old has Lyme disease, every time she so much as comes down with a common cold she has to take extra care to avoid risking a flare-up. She has endured symptoms of the painful bacterial disease since 2008, including recurrences that caused her to miss 18 games with the Chicago Sky in 2014 and cut short a stint in the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association during the 2017 WNBA offseason.
“Because of issues with autoimmune stuff, I’ve just got to really listen to my body. Rest is the biggest thing,” Delle Donne said Tuesday.
She is seeing the team of doctors who helped her with her Lyme disease in the past “basically daily,” she said, and has also met with Mystics team physicians.
“The worst part is you never know when it’s going to come up,” she said.
As for the Mystics’ other injured players, Cloud, a reserve point guard, played in Sunday’s game and is available to play Thursday despite not having passed her kidney stones. The 26-year-old also had kidney stones two years ago. Ruffin-Pratt will also be available Thursday.
Hill, who is scheduled to return at the end of June, has been participating in one-on-one and two-on-two drills but has yet to graduate to full five-on-five action.
“The good part of this is this team is pretty tough-minded,” Thibault said. “Over the past couple of years, we’ve put together a team that has a toughness about them.”
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