During Michelle Snow's previous nine WNBA seasons, which followed a highly successful run at the University of Tennessee and winning a state championship in high school, she never experienced a losing campaign.Before entering the pro ranks this year as a rookie, Natalie Novosel was one of the headliners for a Notre Dame program that finished the 2011-12 season as National runner-ups.Just two seasons ago, second-leading scorer Monique Currie helped guide the Washington Mystics to the Eastern Conference title and a second straight playoff appearance.Those were the days - and nothing like what trio and the rest of the Mystics have endured in 2012. Well, except for Currie and the handful of others who have now suffered through a second straight trying season. With two games remaining, including the home finale Friday night against Indiana, Washington (5-27) needs to a win to match last season's total of six. Should they lose both, the Mystics will finish the season with a 13-game losing streak, and the second worst record in franchise history."It's hard to believe that just two seasons ago we won the Eastern Conference regular season," said Currie, who returned to a full-time role this season after missing nearly all of 2011 with a knee injury. Once again the DC area native is the team's second-leading scorer (11.8), but in a completely different and bummer of a scenario."This season especially has been one of the most difficult for myself. You have to take the highs with the lows. Nothing comes easily. It's a learning experience - just something I'd rather not experience again."For Snow, a 10-year veteran who signed with the Mystics as a free agent this past offseason, the barrage of defeats has been all about "life lessons.""First losing season, you see things from a totally different perspective," said the 6-foot-5 center. "You realize how hard it is to overcome some of the mental battles. You find yourself constantly trying to keep your confidence and keep your head in the right place so you can be productive and contribute to your team...It's depressing; it's hard to deal with."Crystal Langhorne, the Mystics leader in scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage will miss the final two games with a left foot strain after sitting out Sunday's loss to New York. Washington closes out the regular season Saturday at Chicago.Washington is the only WNBA team averaging fewer than 70 points per game (69.3), ranking near the bottom in field goal and 3-point shooting. Since the returning from the Olympic break in mid-August, the Mystics have won just one game in 13 attempts with many of the losses coming in double figure fashion, twice by the Fever. The team's last victory came more than a month ago - August 19 at the Verizon Center against Chicago."I think that's been one of the toughest adjustments, the losing," said Novosel, who lost all of four games during her senior season at Notre Dame. "Getting into my mind that this isn't how the WNBA is, we're not supposed to have losing season and not to get used to that."The losing hasn't stopped, but the recent effort has improved; in its previous game, Washington led by nine points in the fourth quarter on Sunday before falling 75-68 to New York. "The greatest lesson you can have is to hold your integrity around what you're doing, always keep a positive attitude, continue to improve, continue to work," Mystics coach and general manager Trudi Lacey said. "That's exactly what we've done."While the Liberty remain in the postseason hunt, the Mystics lost that Dream for good during the current skid."It's been a difficult road all season, that's obvious," Currie said. "What hasn't changed for us is we continue to work hard although we continue to work hard, though we're kind of just playing just to finish the season because we don't have any postseason chances."Chances against the Fever (20-12), losers of three straight, perhaps hinge on whether the Mystics can conjure up memories of their 67-66 win over Indiana back on June 15. Beats thinking about the past 11 games.
Still not over that finish from Kentucky Speedway? Good, us either. NASCAR is right back after it this weekend in the Granite State and New Hampshire Motor Speedway for some short-track summer action.
Here's what we're watching for on Sunday afternoon in the Foxwoods Resort 301 (3 p.m. EST on NBCSN).
NEW HAMPSHIRE STATISTICS
New Hampshire Motor Speedway: 1.058-mile oval in Loudon, N.H.
Race information: 318.46 miles, 301 laps
Stage lengths: 75 laps, 75 laps, 151 laps
Defending winner: Kevin Harvick
Most wins: Jeff Burton (4)
NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Friday, July 19
12:05 – 12:55 p.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN)
1:05 – 1:55 p.m. – Xfinity practice (NBCSN)
3:35 – 4:25 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)
4:35 p.m. – Cup qualifying (single vehicle/two laps all positions) (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network)
Saturday, July 20
10:05 – 10:55 a.m. – Cup practice (CNBC)
11:15 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying (single vehicle/two laps all positions) (NBCSN)
12:35 – 1:25 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN)
4 p.m. – Roxor 200 Xfinity race (stages 45/90/200 laps = 211.6 miles) (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Sunday, July 21
3 p.m. – Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 (stages 75/150/301 laps = 318.46 miles) (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Is It Time For SHR To Panic?
Past the halfway point in the 2019 season, Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske, Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing and Spire Motorsports (!) have visited Victory Lane.
Notably absent is Stewart-Haas Racing.
2014 Monster Energy Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick had five wins at this point last season, Clint Bowyer had two, and the duo of Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch had been running consistently inside the top five and top 10. This season, they're a step behind.
Whether it's the adjustment to the new Ford Mustang or the new aerodynamic rules package for this season, SHR is behind, there's no sugarcoating it.
Although Harvick is safely in the playoffs, Almirola is in but does not have a large buffer, Bowyer is on the bubble and Daniel Suarez is on the outside looking in.
Harvick did win this race last season, and another checkered flag for the No. 4 camp this weekend would go a long way confidence wise for the organization.
More Sticky Stuff
PJ1 is back, and it seems here to stay.
The sticky adhesive that was put down last weekend in Kentucky, as well as multiple times last season, has been applied at NHMS and will be applied next weekend at Pocono Raceway as well. The adhesive is in hopes to create more racing lines and in turn, a better on track product.
With temparatures this weekend reaching upwards of triple digits, the PJ1 will become more active earlier on. The hotter it is, the more grip the substance has.
New England NASCAR trips and somewhat cringeworthy New England NASCAR accents go hand in hand. Like it or not, that's part of it, right?
The winner of each NHMS race gets a big ole lobster to celebrate with. But don't give one to Denny Hamlin. We remember what happened to him a couple years back, right?
Next week, NASCAR heads to the Pocono Raceway for the second time this season for the Gander Outdoors 400 on Sunday, July 28 at 3:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN.
As you would expect a first-place NL East team to do, the Atlanta Braves bounced back to even the series with Washington Friday night inside SunTrust Park. Josh Donaldson erased Victor Robles' game-tying, two-run home run with his walk-off single in the ninth. Atlanta improved to 59-40 and increased its lead over the Nationals to 6.5 games with a 4-3 final.
Consider these notes as Washington grinds through a pivotal series in Atlanta:
Washington's first-year lefty didn't have his best stuff going Friday night in Atlanta. Patrick Corbin tossed just five innings allowing eight hits, two runs, two walks on 100 pitches. He struck out five Braves on his 30th birthday.
The Nationals' third baseman has brought new meaning to the word 'consistency' all year long in his first season as an All-Star. Two games into this four-game series in Atlanta, Anthony Rendon has five hits, a walk, and 2 RBI.
Victor Robles brought the fireworks in the ninth at SunTrust Park. The 22-year-old delivered a game-tying, two-run home run off Luke Jackson. The long-ball traveled a whopping 446 feet.
The Fernando Rodney experience was alive and well. Davey Martinez made the questionable decision to bring his 42-year-old back out in the ninth for a second consecutive inning. It backfired. Just 14 of his 32 pitches were thrown for strikes.
SP Max Scherzer: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 25
RP Jonny Venters: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26
SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20
RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20
RP Koda Glover: Elbow, Expected to be out until at least Aug 7
RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26
Saturday 7/20: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park
Sunday 7/21: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park
Monday 7/22: Nationals vs. Rockies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park
MORE NATIONALS NEWS: