TAMPA — For years, former Maryland stars Crystal Langhorne and Laura Harper have been inseparable. Even when last month's WNBA draft sent them to opposite sides of the country, they instead went overseas together to play for the U.S. national team in Beijing.
"We were pretty much inseparable over there, too," said Harper, who has known Langhorne since they played in the same AAU program, the Philly Belles, in high school.
Tonight at 7, Langhorne makes her WNBA debut with Washington in a preseason game at the University of Tampa. It's only natural that such a game is against Sacramento, which has Harper as a rookie forward.
"It'll be very different to play against her," said Langhorne, a 6-foot-2 forward who was taken with the No. 6 pick. "But ever since we've been with our WNBA teams, we've talked every day."
Langhorne and Harper, a 6-foot-4 forward who was drafted 10th overall, combined for a dominating college frontcourt, helping Maryland to a national title in 2006. Langhorne was a two-time ACC player of the year and Harper was the most outstanding player in the Final Four they won. The two are similar enough that Washington struggled with which Terp it preferred on draft day.
"Don't have me relive that one," Mystics coach Tree Rollins said. "One second it was one of them, the next second it was the other. We knew either one would be a player we felt good about."
Both likely will play power forward, so they could find themselves guarding each other tonight, something they've only done in practice in recent years. Comparable as their games are, their personalities are contrasts, something that led to their friendship.
"Very, very different personalities," Langhorne said Friday. "She's more crazy; I'm more laid-back. She's very dramatic; I'm not. She's very emotional, sometimes too much, but she's passionate about everything she does."
Last week after returning from China, the two have recovered from global jet lag together on opposite coasts, chatting on the phone at 3 a.m. as they share the transition from senior college stars to rookie pros.
"There are so many talented players in the WNBA," Langhorne said. "Every team, every player is very talented. I'm really excited about getting ready to play this season, just trying to do my best with rebounding and defense."
MOSBY OUT: Former Hernando and Florida star Bernice Mosby, a second-year forward with the Mystics, is out as she recovers from offseason surgery to repair a knee injury suffered in the fall while she was playing professionally in Greece. Mosby, a first-round pick in 2007, is expected to return in late May or June.