May 15, 2021 

Front court makes an impact in Mystics’ opening loss to the Sky

Charles, Plaisance and McCall serve as bright spots, but the Mystics know where they need to improve

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Tina Charles, then a member of the New York Liberty, goes up for layup against the Washington Mystics in a game on August 25, 2019. Photo Credit: Domenic Allegra.

Washington Mystics coach Mike Thibault didn’t mince his words after his team lost its season opener on Saturday afternoon.

“Well, when the game of basketball was invented the idea was just to put the ball through the hoop,” Thibault said. “And we’re not doing that very well at all.”

Washington scored just 56 points in the loss while allowing 70 points to Chicago. Several players were able to knock down a few of their shots, including Tina Charles, Theresa Plaisance and Erica McCall, but the team knows there is still plenty of room for improvement. 

In her first WNBA game in 615 days, Charles scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds. 

While Charles went just 5-of-16 from the floor, she was not focused on herself after the game. 

“It’s about the team and just what we have to do. In general, just figuring out what our process is going to be, getting more paint touches especially when we’re missing long shots,” Charles said. 

Natasha Cloud, who also took to the court for the first time since the 2019 season, will look to get Charles both more touches and easier touches as the season goes on. 

In her first start since 2019, Plaisance tallied nine points, seven rebounds, one assist, two steals and two blocks. 

Plaisance played through a back injury during the 2020 season and as recently as December was unable to sit down due to pain, but she said she felt good against the Sky.

“It was a very special moment to come off two back surgeries and struggle through the bubble and struggle through some of the offseason, trying to get healthy,” Plaisance said. “I’ve put in a lot of work and a lot of time to have this moment, and I just feel really proud to be able to step on the court with a healthy body and be able to contribute.”

Plaisance will continue to have opportunities to contribute throughout the season. 

Thibault liked that Plaisance was aggressive and was able to find success grabbing defensive rebounds, but in the future expects her to shoot better than 1-of-8 from beyond the arc. 

McCall came off the bench and played nearly 24 minutes, third-most of anyone on the team, and went 3-of-7 from the floor, the highest shooting percentage of any Mystics player. She finished with nine points, nine rebounds, and one assist. 

While the front-court success may seem like a positive from the outside, Plaisance hopes the team is able to incorporate the guards more, including through more reversals, in order to create more offensive success. 

Washington is keenly aware that this game was just the first of 32 regular season games this season. 

“We know that we’re in this for the long haul, we’re not going to judge our team by what happened today,” Thibault said. “We’re going to correct things by what happened today, but we’re not going to judge us. I didn’t expect us to be the best version of ourselves and I don’t expect it for a while. I just hope that every time out I see us get better.”

Cloud echoed his remarks and said, “I’m not worried. We don’t need to be worried. This is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. We knew coming into this that it wasn’t going to be how we started, but how we finish so we’re just taking it day by day.” 

Written by Natalie Heavren

Natalie Heavren has been covering women’s basketball since February 2019 and currently covers both the Atlantic 10 and the WNBA.

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