Dolson goes from dancing with UConn, Fallon to Mystics

Dolson goes from dancing with UConn, Fallon to Mystics
April 29, 2014, 10:30 am
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As if being the center-piece of the UConn's undefeated National Championship team wasn't enough, Washington Mystics rookie Stefanie Dolson recently became a viral video star. She flashed her moves in a dance-off with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

Monique Currie, the one remaining roster holdover since coach and general manager Mike Thibault took over before the 2013 season, took notice.

"I think that was awesome. It was great exposure. I was very happy that she had rhythm cause I didn't know if she would or not," Currie cracked at the team's media day on Monday.

There is plenty for Currie and others to learn about their plethora of new teammates including Dolson and her fellow UConn teammate Bria Hartley heading into the team's training camp.

Thibault turned the Mystics from WNBA bottom feeder to playoff team in his first season yet still tinkered plenty with the roster heading into the 2014 season. To take the Mystics to championship-contending level, the forward-thinking 63-year-old knew additional alterations were in order. In all but one prominent case - WNBA veteran and Olympian Kara Lawson -, that meant go young.

"If it was an 82 game season I wouldn't be as nervous. We're going to be really young," Thibault said. We're going to be one of two or three youngest teams in the league. In a 34 game season, you don't have a lot of room for error."

On draft night earlier this month Thibault selected Dolson sixth overall. Moments later he acquired Hartley, the seventh overall selection, and former University of Maryland forward Tianna Hawkins from the Seattle Storm. That's three first or second-year players joining four rising second-year players from last season's 17-17 squad. The Mystics lost to the Atlanta Dream in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

"We knew what we were getting in for when we made the changes," Thibault said. "It's a long-term plan as much as a short-term plan."

Speaking of long, the Mystics have longed lacked a true interior threat on both ends of the court. That should no longer be an issue with the 6-foot-5 Dolson, a rebounder of many errant shots, the setter of many effective screens and a dancer of late night fame.

"I didn't know what was going to come of it," Dolson said of a chain of events that got her dancing with Fallon after she challenged him on video to a dance-off. "Obviously, what did was amazing and I'll never forget."

Same goes for her career with the Huskies. The AP second-team All-American center averaged 12.5 points this past season for with career-highs in rebounds (9.3), assists (3.4) and blocks (2.3). She ranks fourth on UConn's all-time list in rebounds and blocks.

In the playoffs versus Atlanta, Washington was outrebounded by nearly nine boards on average in the three-game series.

Perhaps Dolson's most impressive numbers, a 144-11 record at Connecticut. All those credentials aside, expect her to come off the bench initially with veteran starter Kia Vaughn returning. Second-year power forward Emma Meesseman is expected to take on a larger if not starring role following the draft-day trade that sent second-leading scorer Crystal Langhorne to Seattle and reunited Hartley and Dolson in Washington.

Point guard Ivory Latta and Lawson, acquired in a three-team deal earlier this season occupy the starting backcourt spots. The third guard role is one Hartley could take. Capable of running the offense (4.3 assists) and draining 3's, the 5-foot-8 Hartley averaged 16.2 points last season.

"We're just excited to have each others back with this whole experience as a rookie."

One part of that experience will certainly be new for two players that are coming off a 40-0 season.

"I think the biggest adjustment might be losing a game," Currie noted. "They're not used to losing any games. We might lose a game or two this year."

If there is one thing Thibault doesn't fear heading into the season it's building team chemistry, not with so many "high-energy" personalities on the roster.

"We're going to have more media darlings in our locker room this year than most any team in the league," the coach said, "just because they are all gregarious and willing to talk."

Don't forget willing to dance as well.