Month: September 2016

Rachel James

Point guard James is latest Mystics signing

Manchester Mystics have boosted their WBBL squad with a deal for point guard Rachel James.

The former Sevenoaks Suns star is known for her tenacity and leadership, while racking up an impressive five rebounds per game last season despite her 5ft 3in frame.

“Rachel will add quickness and is another perimeter player that has the ability to create her own shot, while she also gives us the ability to extend our defensive pressure,” said coach Jeff Jones.

“She has shown a tremendous desire to be part of the squad and she has been commuting from London just to make practices during our pre-season.

“From a coaching perspective, that goes a long way when a player shows that kind of desire to play for your team.”

James will settle in really well, according to Jones, and will line up alongside other exciting new arrivals, including Great Britain duo Georgia Jones and Dominique Allen.

Mystics logo

Mystics season preview

As the WBBL season draws closer and the Mystics roster nears completion, I caught up with returning stalwarts Jade Lucas and Nicola Welling to gauge their thoughts ahead of the new campaign.

MM: You’ve been part of the set-up here for a long time now. What is it that keeps you coming back year after year?

JL: Basketball is my passion. I’ve been playing since I was eight years old. I love to see all my friends and keep myself fit. Basketball’s always been there for me.

NW: This is the best club in the region. There’s a good youth programme behind us and I enjoy seeing the younger players come up to compete with us. It’s always good to have that.

Jade Lucas
Jade Lucas (Manchester Mystics #5) -WBBL 2015-2015 – Manchester Mystics – Nottingham Wildcats – © Ville Vuorinen- NO UNPAID USE ALLOWED –

MM: It’s early days yet, but what difference do you feel the move to Belle Vue has made for the programme?

JL: I think it’s given us a new vision, being a focus group now. We also have a different coach, with different ideas, which has given everyone an early boost and lots of confidence. We feel really valued right now.

NW: The facilities have given us a different feeling and we’ve been able to attract some good talent to the club. They’ve brought an intensity with them. That can only be good for us.

MM: What are you most looking forward to this season?

JL: We have a great range of talent that I’m looking forward to playing with. Georgia was a team-mate of mine years ago, she’s just an amazing player. Rheanne Bailey is a player I’ve respected for a long time and also my old friends Jamie Curtis and Nicki are still here. I like the dynamic we have around the group and I’m really excited.

NW: I’m looking forward to winning some games! We’ve got a great group, there’s a great atmosphere on the floor, our intensity is higher and we should be able to compete better than we have recently. It all adds up to winning!

Nicola Welling
Nicola Welling (Manchester Mystics #6) -WBBL 2015-2015 – Manchester Mystics – Nottingham Wildcats – © Ville Vuorinen- NO UNPAID USE ALLOWED –

MM: What will signify success for you in May?

JL: For me, getting to the end of the season and feeling like everyone contributed their maximum and felt valued will be a big thing, regardless of our finishing position. If we’re all on the same page working towards the same goal, we will be successful.

NW: With the players we have, we need to be aiming for the top half of the league and looking to make some noise in the play-offs.

*The Mystics are taking part in the Betty Codona Classic at Nottingham Wildcats Arena this weekend (1st & 2nd October). The long running tournament was added to the regular WBBL calendar this year.

Basketball England

Magic and Mystics players get England call

Magic’s Aaron Martin, Josh Grant, Saul May and Greg Wild and Mystics’ Ashana Hinds and Khia Lee have been selected in the initial England Under 15/16 Squads following the Under 15 Regional Development Tournament.

There is a new development for the 2016/17 season in that all youth national teams will compete at the European Championships as Great Britain. The final selection for Great Britain Youth Teams will be in 2017, with the exact date to be confirmed closer to the day.

The camp in December will help to select 16 players for U16 England National programme who will be considered for the Great Britain U16 programmes and European Championships in 2017.

Manchester Mystics

Mystics U14 record big win over Spinners

Mystics U14s began the 2016-17 season with an emphatic 133-18 away win at Lancashire Spinners last Sunday. (I was going to call it the 2016-17 campaign but that makes it sound like part of a war and this game was anything but as brutal as the scoreline suggests. It was played and officiated in tremendous spirit throughout.) At 6-4 two minutes in, not even Psychic Sally could have predicted what was in store over the next 38 minutes of playing time.

Due to a delay in registering a number of players, (those who seemingly read and write slowly!) Mystics had only nine players on duty for this fixture but all nine certainly made telling contributions. In number order, Charli Wroe showed that size doesn’t matter when you have a skill set as varied and accomplished as she has. Elli Atherton demonstrated that she is now a real threat both on the break and from mid-range. Elli Hatton confirmed that controlled aggression does have a place- well four places actually- in a ‘non-contact’ sport and that she now has effective three-point range. Captain Courtney Kenyon-Betts again performed with style, poise and a maturity way beyond her years. Beth McLoughlin made so many telling passes that even her dad lost count! Olivia Forster proved that determination and a willingness to listen and learn always pays dividends – just as the Co-op used to. (That’s one for any readers old enough to be on the Saga mailing list!)

Lucy Bryan hardly put a foot, or a hand, wrong during the whole game. Holly Bryan hardly put a hand, or a foot, wrong during the whole game. These two newcomers will be huge assets for us in future, more demanding circumstances. Suffice to say that Lauren Addey scored more points in this single game than she did in the whole of last season which should give her the confidence to shoot the ball from now on. She put her success down to the energy drink she was sipping rather than the Doritos she scoffed at half-time. I put it down to working hard and being determined to improve. As with the rest of the team, she can be very pleased with her display.

Faced with such ability and togetherness, Spinners were understandably somewhat overwhelmed but deserve enormous credit for never once dropping their heads or giving up. Their captain, K Shimmons, in particular, gave all she had and showed genuine potential. Spinners seemed to appreciate the fact that on no occasion did we press them which allowed them to have a decent amount of possession so that they could feel that they had contributed positively to an enjoyable encounter which left no one feeling  either smug or totally disillusioned.

There will be tougher tests ahead for Mystics, such as GCSEs and A levels, but the early signs look most promising. Many thanks to assistant coach James, team manager Sammy and all parents for your help and support. It is much appreciated. Next game- home to Stockport on Sunday 2 October with a 12.30 tip.

Report by Jim Carnegie

Mystics logo

Mystics add Bailey and Clayden

Manchester Mystics have added experienced guards Rheanne Bailey and Joanna Clayden to their WBBL squad for the 2016/17 season.

Bailey, 24, is a former Great Britain Under-20 international, while Clayden, 32, has appeared for the senior GB side.

“Both players bring much needed skills to the squad,” said Mystics head coach Jeff Jones.

“Rheanne brings a defensive toughness to the team, along with a great winning mentality, having enjoyed success at Leicester and Loughborough respectively.

“She loves to compete and should instil that into the younger players that we are trying to develop for the future.”

According to Jones, the 5ft 10in Clayden is “one of the best shooters that has played in this country”.

He added: “That will probably be the kiss of death for her, but, seriously, we not only need the outside threat she poses but her length will be invaluable to us on the defensive end.

“Jo has been demonstrating an understanding of the game and specific roles. I watched her coach in a regional tournament the other weekend and I really think it has helped her individual game as much as the good job she did with her team.”

Jones added: “Both players join a club where they will see familiar faces, having played with most of the senior players at one time or another.

“We are hoping to add a couple more players as soon as we can, as well as finding some young players who can make the grade of the new Mystics.”

Blackpool-born Clayden, who has played for Sheffield Hatters and Leeds Carnegie, is completing a return to Manchester, having spent some time with the club earlier in her career.

She attended Auburn University in the NCAA and even had a year playing professionally in Spain.

Bailey, from Birmingham, has also played with Leeds Carnegie, as well as Nottingham Wildcats, Loughborough and Leicester Riders, where she took to the court in 20 games during the inaugural WBBL season in 2014/15.

Manchester Mystics

Mystics U16 see off Wildcats

Manchester Mystics welcomed Nottingham Wildcats to ABC as both teams opened the league campaign for 2016/17.

Following a summer of tireless work, the home team were raring to go, and got of to a strong start, scoring straight off the tip. Strong defence by the Mystics was causing the visitors to commit a number of errors, with the hosts capitalising to take a 22-6 lead at the end of the 1st period.

The second period saw a revival for Nottingham, as they traded blows with their opponents in the open floor. The improved offensive showing by the East Midlanders kept them within a manageable distance heading into halftime, down 16 after a tied quarter at 19 apiece.

Mystics would rediscover their defensive intensity in the third period, as their guards constantly harassed the ball handlers of the Wildcats to limit their opportunities and disrupt their rhythm. A sustained effort saw the Mancunians restrict Nottingham to 8 points in the period, whilst scoring 16 of their own as the lead ballooned.

The final quarter was one of opportunity for Manchester, as they were able to go deeper into their bench to award valuable playing time to all players as they nursed a healthy lead. The visitors’ resurgence was not enough to threaten the result, as Mystics held on to secure a 13 point opening day victory, with the final score standing at 64-51.

Mbongeni Greg Mpofu

Mystics add Olympian Allen

Manchester Mystics have confirmed they will have a second senior Great Britain team member on their roster for the forthcoming 2016-17 WBBL campaign after swooping to sign Dominique Allen who represented her country at London 2012.

Following on from the news that point guard Georgia Jones will be wearing Mystics’ colours this season, Allen brings valuable experience of the European game having played in five different leagues on the Continent.

Allen represented Great Britain at U20 level and went to the London Olympics via an earlier selection for the GB Futures team at the World University Games. Since then, she has played at two EuroBasket Women Final Rounds [France 2013 and Hungary 2015] and was part of the GB team that played on her new club’s home court at the National Basketball Performance Centre back in February in the FIBA EuroBasket Women 2017 Qualifiers.

Mystics’ head coach Jeff Jones is absolutely thrilled to have Allen in his squad for the upcoming season and stated, “ I feel Dominique can be an instant success in the WBBL.

“She has a lot of things you can’t teach in that she is an outstanding athlete and her size is an added bonus for us.

“Her skill set is right in line with how we hope to play this season and her ability to run the floor is exceptional, while her knowledge of the game is also very high. Her basketball experience will also be invaluable for our younger players.

“Dominique’s signing will also be able to add to the cultural change we are hoping to make in Manchester,” added Jones.

“Obviously she is familiar with playing with Georgia and that is a big bonus in terms of their on-court understanding of each other and how they both play together, will be one of our strengths this season.”

Allen started her career in Birmingham, before spending two seasons playing in the English Basketball League and BUSA competition for Northumbria University, earning Most Valuable Player honours in 2006-7.

She then transferred to Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

After graduating, she made her professional debut in the 2012-13 season with Italian second tier side Meccanica Nova Bologna, becoming a regular starter and averaging more than 10 points and seven rebounds per game.

She then made the switch to France to play in LF2 for Cote d’Opale Basket Calais, then moving to the top level ZBL in Czech Republic to play for SBS Ostrava. Last season Allen started with Flying Foxes Vienna where she briefly played in EuroCup Women, before making a mid-season move to the DBBL in Germany where she represented Chemnitz Chemcats.

Manchester Magic logo

Club mourns Peter Minister

The club is very sad to announce the death of Peter Minister at the age of 59.

The father of Jack, who plays for our senior men, and Kate, who played for our age-group girls teams some years ago, Peter was a very big supporter of the Magic and Mystics.

His background as a top player in Manchester enabled him to make a major contribution to our development programme.

He coached our boys for many years and was very instrumental in our early success, instilling good principles in all our players.

More important than any of this, Peter was an outstanding person, a man of great integrity and character and a great family man.

We will all miss him greatly and offer our condolences to wife Kim, Jack and Kate.

Georgia Jones

Jones Returns Home

Great Britain point guard Georgia Jones has signed for Manchester Mystics.

It’s a massive boost for the WBBL franchise, which has recently completed a move to National Basketball Performance Centre in Belle Vue.

Jones, who played for Leicester Riders last season, returns to the club where she began her career and will link up with her father, Jeff, who is head coach.

“It feels great to be back in my home town playing for Manchester again,” said the 26-year-old Jones, who made her debut for the Mystics senior team aged just 14.

“It is where basketball all started for me, so it’s nice to have finally made it back here.

“I’m really excited for the season and seeing what the team can do! “We have a really good group of players all looking to make an impact and to be competitive this year, which will be great for basketball in Manchester.

“A few people have already asked what it is like to be coached by my dad. For me, it’s not unusual because coached me my entire life and knows me as a player better than anyone else.

“I have a lot of faith in him and his ability to get the best out of me, so I’m looking forward to seeing what this season will bring under his leadership.”

Coach Jones says it will be “fun” to have his daughter in the Mystics squad.

“I think every player wants to play for their hometown team and I am looking forward to working to continue her development and pushing her to get better,” he added.

“I hope she will be a big part of bringing about a culture change and the perception of women’s basketball in Manchester. The experiences she will bring to the team will invaluable to the younger players.”

Manchester Mystics

Mystics U14s ready after tough build-up

Mystics U14s prepared for the new season with two physically demanding friendlies against Lancashire Spinners U16 girls and Sefton U14 boys.

Despite the height and strength disadvantages, plus having to play with a bigger basketball than they are used to – a size 6 rather than a 5 – Mystics acquitted themselves most credibly in both games.

Finding themselves 13 down late on in Bury, the girls showed great spirit and determination to close the gap, only to go down 42-46 with captain, Courtney Kenyon-Betts putting in an impressive MVP performance at both ends of the court. 

It was a similar story in the Sefton game. We trailed by 13 at the start of the fourth quarter but drew level with seconds to go, only to miss two free-throws and concede on the buzzer to make it 53-55.

Eleven-year-old Charli Wroe stole the show this time with 20 points.

Mystics tip off their league programme at Bury this Sunday at 3:00pm.

Report: Jim Carnegie