After finishing with the worst record in the WNBA last season, the Washington Mystics are hoping to come out much improved.
The Tulsa Shock are also looking to make significant strides, but they have a long way to go if their first game is any indication.
The Mystics begin the year trying to avoid a 14th consecutive loss Monday against the Shock, who try to get on track in their home opener.
Hoping to get the franchise turned around, the Mystics replaced coach and general manager Trudi Lacey with former Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault - the second-winningest coach in WNBA history. Washington lost a franchise-record 13 straight to conclude last season.
"I really think I can say it can't get any worse than it did last year," forward Monique Currie said, reflecting on the Mystics' 5-29 record.
Only four players are expected back from a squad that finished last in scoring with 68.6 points per game - and wins. Washington also ranked near the bottom in several other categories including rebounding and 3-point shooting.
Currie and leading scorer Crystal Langhorne (14.7 ppg) are among the few holdovers from not only last season's woes, but also the highs felt during Washington's 2010 Eastern Conference regular season title. The D.C. area native appreciates the latest round of changes, but knows turnaround talk is cheap.
"We do this every year," Currie said. "We have our media day. We're optimistic about our season. We say great things, but at this point, we just have to go out there and prove things. We have a new coach, a proven winner. You can check his record. We all know the success that he's had. Already I can feel the difference. ... I'm hoping it will continue to feel that way."
The Mystics have plenty to be excited about with promising rookie Tayler Hill on board. They also have high hopes for veteran point guard Ivory Latta, who was signed this offseason after spending the last three years with Tulsa (0-1).
While the Shock replaced Latta with former Notre Dame standout Skylar Diggins, she struggled in Saturday's 98-81 loss at Atlanta. The No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft scored 15 points on 4-of-13 shooting and committed five turnovers.
"You can't teach experience," she said. "So it's good for me to be out on the court and get that in-game experience and watch the film, learn from it and have a short-term memory."
Riquna Williams posted a game-high 22 points off the bench, but the Shock were outrebounded 41-31 and outscored 58-34 in the paint. Tulsa also committed a whopping 22 turnovers, including 10 in the third quarter.
"The first three minutes of the second half are the most important and we didn't do our jobs," Diggins said. "Most importantly, I think I have to do better handling pressure and calling plays."
The Shock have posted back-to-back home wins over the Mystics by an average of 17.0 points.