A team that works (and plays) together wins together. It’s a truism that can apply in all team sports, but especially on the basketball court, says Crystal “Lang” Langhorne, a 25-year-old center for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.
“I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to have the most talented team to win,” agrees Mystics forward Marissa “Riss” Coleman. “It comes down to chemistry on the court.”
For Crystal and Marissa, who were also college teammates at the University of Maryland, there’s no better example of the magic a team can produce than their come-from-behind victory in the 2006 NCAA championship game.
“We had a really close team and we really believed in each other,” Crystal recalls.
But to give a team your best, both players also understand that scheduled practices will only take you so far and that solo training — after-hours work on your personal weaknesses — is what it takes to better your game.
Crystal, who made her mark in the record books as the first Maryland player to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds, learned this lesson in high school from her coach’s father, “Mr. Fowler.” A basketball coach himself, Mr. Fowler came to many of her team’s practices and would help her individually with footwork drills.
“It’s easy to work on what you’re good at, but I’ve found it’s working on your weaknesses that makes you a stronger player,” says Crystal, a lefty who now forces herself to focus on her non-dominant side.
For Marissa, learning to emphasize quality, rather than quantity, was key to improving her skills.
“I used to think that if I went to the gym and shot 1,000 times that it was the best approach, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve taken the less-is-more approach,” says the 24-year-old, who is the only University of Maryland player to record a triple-double. “If I shoot fewer shots and they’re perfect shots I’m going to get more out of it.”