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Coach Mike Thibault: Mystics felt ‘a little bit slighted’ in aftermath of Aces forfeit

August 10, 2018

When the Washington Mystics won their fifth straight game Thursday, the team touted their collective focus amid the distraction of a previous opponent failing to show up and waiting for the WNBA to rule on the matter.

They also may have felt their hot streak was getting a bit snubbed, according to their coach.

“You’d have to ask them, but I think in all of this, they’ve felt a little bit slighted in a sense,” Mike Thibault said after the game.

The discussion around the league has “been about a bunch of other things,” he said, other than the team’s performance.

The Las Vegas Aces decided not to play a game in the District last Friday because they had flight after flight cancelled or delayed, and they arrived in town just hours before the game on poor rest. WNBA teams fly commercial, not private.

Thibault seemed to point out that travel has been a problem league-wide, not just for the Aces.

The Mystics “came home to play that game (against the Aces) having done enough travel of their own,” Thibault said. “We’ve had bad travel days. I can empathize with what Vegas went through. I’m not sure I can sympathize with the decision, but I understand there’s really tough days.”

This week, after the Mystics beat the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday night, they took a red-eye out of town, losing time traveling against the time zones, and had to play their next game Thursday at 11:30 a.m.

“We’ve been home for 26 hours before this game,” the coach said. “That’s just the way it is. That’s part of being a pro athlete and playing a shorter season because of the (FIBA Women’s) world championships.”

Mystics star Elena Delle Donne also understood the Aces’ problem.

“There’s no question in my mind that (travel) will be addressed in the next CBA,” Delle Donne said. “Just player health. If we have to travel commercial, I don’t think we should have back-to-backs. Hopefully we can get some things changed.”

The current eight-year collective bargaining agreement expires on Oct. 31, 2021, but both sides have the option to terminate the agreement after the 2019 season. That decision would have to be made by Nov. 1 of this year.

Delle Donne was happy the problem at least had been brought to mainstream attention.

“I mean, people are talking about it. They hadn’t been before,” she said. “It definitely made a lot of noise.”

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