Former Maryland stand-outs and current Washington Mystics Marissa Coleman and Crystal Langhorne are no strangers to the feeling of being the underdog.
As part of a relatively young starting line-up in 2006, consisting of two freshmen, two sophomores, and one junior, Coleman and Langhorne knew that their Terps were not expected to be a team to watch for.
And with an injured franchise player in Alana Beard and a relatively new coaching staff, Coleman, Langhorne, and the 2010 Mystics were not predicted to be particularly successful either.
However, Coleman and Langhorne are also no strangers to great success.
On April 4, 2006 Coleman, Langhorne, and the Maryland Terrapins proved their skeptics wildly incorrect with an impressive overtime win over Duke to claim a national championship.
In similar fashion, on August 22, 2010 Coleman, Langhorne, and the Washington Mystics defied expectations and proved themselves to be a threat by breaking their franchise record in three categories: obtaining 22 wins, earning the number one playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, and becoming Eastern Conference regular season champions.
Heading into the WNBA playoffs with a promising six-game win streak, Coleman and Langhorne can relate similar feelings from their playoff experience at Maryland. Both [the college and WNBA playoff series] are really intense and exciting; its the best time of the year because all of your emotions and hard work come down to this series of games, said Coleman.
The Mystics (22-12) have come a long way since their 2009 season in which they went 16-18 and were seeded 4th in the Eastern Conference. Its taken a lot of hard work, said Langhorne. But weve been working as a team and playing great team defense. The most important thing is the teams chemistry; staying together and staying tough, agreed Coleman.
In their last regular season home game against the New York Liberty on August 20th, Coleman, Langhorne, and the Mystics experienced a taste of the post-season style of play. The game was crucial to both teams, with the number one seed position on the line, and both teams demonstrated great determination as the lead changed hands five times in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter. However, the Mystics were able to secure a victory, with a thrilling final score of 75-74.
The Mystics look to keep a similar sense of intensity throughout the playoffs. Its not about who has the better team, its about who wants it more, said Coleman. At this point, every team has the talent so it comes down to heart. Weve just got to continue playing like weve been playing, continue to rebound and continue to play together, said Langhorne.
The Mystics are also hoping to have another key component from the New York game present throughout the playoffs: over 13,000 screaming fans. Largely reported to be the loudest crowd of the season, Coleman and Langhorne agree that the fans at the August 20th game contributed a great deal to the Mystics securing the win. And as important as that crowd was, Coleman stresses that in the playoffs the Mystics will need that kind of support even more.
She remarks that watching herself and Langhorne with the Mystics will likely remind Maryland fans of watching the two of them at Maryland. Its very similar, youre going to see a team that loves playing together and wants to win, said Coleman. Langhorne remembers that Maryland fans have always been loyal. Youve always supported us and we really want you to come out and see us again, said Langhorne.
The Mystics start the first round of the playoffs at home at the Verizon Center on Wednesday, August 25th at 7:00 pm.