WASHINGTON -- For the first time since before winning a championship in 2019, the Washington Mystics are going to have a full squad - coaches included - ready to go on Wednesday when they host the Chicago Sky.
Head coach Mike Thibault and assistant Shelley Patterson returned to Mystics practice on Tuesday after entering Health and Safety Protocols. Both coaches appeared on the injury report last Friday and could not return until they both returned multiple negative tests.
That leaves no one on the injury report. No players sitting out for rest or personal reasons. A full 11-player, four-coach team will all be together Wednesday night.
"That'll be a first for me. We got to that point, whenever it was, a couple of weeks ago and then I wasn't there. So we'll see what tomorrow looks like. But it's nice to be in that position," Thibault said after practice.
Back on May 24, the Mystics were in this same spot. Alysha Clark was coming off the injury report for recovery on her right foot, Elena Delle Donne was fresh off of a scheduled rest day and Elizabeth Williams was set to play her third game after overseas commitments kept her out for the first two weeks of the season.
But then Thibault had an unplanned absence where he missed that night's contest against the Atlanta Dream. His son and associate coach Eric Thibault filled in and cruised to a 70-50 victory.
Right before the next game, Clark entered Health and Safety Protocols to prevent the occasion from finally coming to fruition.
Weeks have passed and here we are again.
The elder Thibault and Patterson missed the two most recent games, both losses to the Liberty and the Sky. Mike was forced to watch from home and he was not a fan.
"(It was) awful," Mike Thibault said. "I don't like yelling at the TV, nobody can hear you anyway, except my wife in the other room. It's hard. You'd like to think you can have some control of some things but the reality is our team is in a little bit of a funk. And it's hard to watch."
A full complement of the entire squad will be welcomed for 7-5 Washington which sits in fifth place in the standings. Those two losses both came with the offense struggling for their standards, shooting 45% and 40% from the field respectively. Delle Donne will be coming back right after a rest day as well, not having played in four days.
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Injuries and a lack of time to gain chemistry when healthy were two of the biggest issues for the team last season that led to them missing the playoffs for the first time since 2016. The hope was that this collection of players wouldn't have to go through that again this season with a re-tooled roster. Alas, that is becoming a repeated issue in 2022.
Now, it's a matter of keeping everyone off the injury report beyond just the 14th game of the season.