The last meeting between the WNBA's Washington Mystics and Detroit Shock allowed two old friends to do some catching up. Asjha Jones, power forward for the Mystics, and Swin Cash, small forward for the Shock, showed no signs of pre-game jitters at the idea that they were about to play one another.
In fact, before the start of the game, the two former college teammates shared a few laughs as Jones wanted to show off her new knee brace to her old friend.
The two spent four years at the University of Connecticut, which is one of the most successful women's basketball programs in the country.
After graduation, Jones and Cash had two NCAA championships under their belts, and moved on to play professional basketball in the WNBA. And as rookies, the two players learned quickly that the competition is tough, and being on a winning team is not a guarantee.
For Cash, the lesson came immediately. Her team began last season with an 0-10 record, before hiring former Detroit Pistons center Bill Laimbeer, who guided them to a 9-13 record, finishing 9-23 for the year.
Since then the Shock has been on a roll, winning 23 of its 32 games this year for the best record in the league. For the Mystics, however, the road has been a bit different. With Jones coming off the bench last season, the Mystics finished 17-15 overall.
But this season the Mystics struggled with a 9-23 record, and it appears that the teams have switched places. As for Jones, her role has definitely changed.
"This year they asked me to play a lot more minutes then I did last year, because we lost a lot when Vicky Bullett left the team. She is our best post defender, so I think all of us had to kind of pick up the slack in that area," Jones said.
"I am not used to that [losing], but I think you have to take it game by game. If you think about your record and everything, you can get really down on yourself, but when you just take it game by game, and work on the challenges of that day, that's how you maintain."
Cash agrees with Jones and knows how hard it is to stay optimistic in a situation like the Mystics' because she has been there before.
"It's difficult [to stay positive when you are losing after winning so much], but at the same time, we understand that there's so much more to life than basketball, and we're blessed to have an opportunity to play it."
Cash is supportive of her friend and one-time teammate, and says that she and Jones talk a lot and try not to let their professional careers hinder their friendship.
"It's [the Mystics' situation this year] difficult, but we're still friends and are able to talk about stuff and also embrace the changes. Asjha supported me last year, and I am supporting her this year. We're able to talk, but also to put basketball aside and talk about life in general. We try not to keep the basketball parts so much on our minds and try to keep our work at work and our personal life at home."