Mystics head coach Mike Thibault says the team’s injury situation is the ‘worst in 50 years of coaching’

After their 2020 season was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington Mystics had high hopes for a recurring campaign this summer. With the expected returns from Elena Delle Donne, Tina Charles and Natasha Cloud as well as free agent signing Alysha Clark, the team looked set to compete for the title once again.

Instead, after a 93-75 loss to the Minnesota Lynx Saturday night, the Mystics are 10-17 and would not make it to the playoffs if the season ended today. They are only percentage points behind New York Liberty for the eighth and final playoff spot, so they can still sneak into the off-season, but it is still far from what they had expected.

The main reason they have not been able to get anything going this season is injuries. At his media conference before Saturday, coach Mike Thibault waited on the unfortunate streak the Mystics have been on for the past few months.

“[The injury situation is] the worst in 50 years of coaching, ” Said Thibault. “This has been the worst thing I’ve ever been through. It’s frustrating and it’s hard for everyone, not just me.”

Although injury at all times is always a problem for every team, the Mystics’ situation has been outrageous. It started before the game even began when Clark sustained a foot injury while playing abroad in France and underwent a season-ending surgery. Then Delle Donne needed another back operation – her second since 2019 – and missed the team’s first 21 games. Although she has since returned to the field, she has only played in three of six games since her comeback.

In truth, it would be bad enough to lose a keyless agent who signs for the season and a former MVP for the majority of it. (It does not even take into account that Emma Meesseman stayed abroad this season.) That was just the beginning for Mystics. They were already stoned on opening night, and it only gradually got worse as the season went on.

Cloud, Charles and Myisha Hines-Allen have all missed at least five games. Among the 15 players eligible for the Mystics, only Ariel Atkins and Theresa Plaisance have played in all 27 games. At one point, it got so bad that they only dressed six players as if they were a youth team that did not know who showed up from match to match.

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of all is that when Delle Donne came back after the Olympic break, it looked like they would finally get back on track. While losing to the Seattle Storm in EDD’s return, they finally had their best starting five out on the floor and were just outside the playoffs. Even with all that had gone wrong, it felt like they could just get into the playoffs, they had the high-end talent to maybe make noise anyway.

Then Charles got injured, Hines-Allen got sick and Delle Donne has not been able to play every game. Even now, the one match against Storm is still the only time their top five have been out there. Although the Mystics could still back into the playoffs, they then had to win two singles elimination matches away just to get to the semifinals.

Sometimes, as the mystics find out in a cruel way, it’s just not your year.

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