- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 11, 2000

Chamique Holdsclaw isn't going to let two stress fractures in her right foot interfere with leading the Washington Mystics to their first playoff berth.

Holdsclaw has been working out with the Mystics in a limited capacity since the start of training camp last Wednesday but steadily has increased her participation throughout the week.

During yesterday's morning practice, Holdsclaw showed no signs of the injured foot. Holdsclaw, last season's WNBA rookie of the year after averaging 16.9 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds, made strong cuts off her right foot in halfcourt drills.

Mystics coach Nancy Darsch ruled Holdsclaw out of Sunday's exhibition at MCI Center against the three-time WNBA champion Houston Comets.

"She moves very well," Darsch said. "She still has some difficulty cutting when she is changing directions, and her foot fatigues pretty quickly. She certainly will not be available to us on Sunday."

Holdsclaw, 22, complained about foot problems in late March practicing with the U.S. team for an exhibition against a Hungarian club team. On March 29, a bone scan taken of her right foot revealed the stress fractures.

The 6-foot-2 Holdsclaw expects to be ready for the Mystics' season opener May 31 against the Orlando Miracle at MCI Center.

Meanwhile, Darsch said she will trim her training camp roster before Sunday's exhibition. Darsch has 18 players on the roster, and she said there will be fewer than 16 for the Comets.

"We'll probably be making some decisions before Sunday," Darsch said. "Sunday will be an additional evaluation. We have to see how people react in the fire."

The final 11-player active rosters are due in the league's New York office by 5 p.m. May 28. Teams are allowed to place two additional players on an injured list.

The Mystics appear to have eight roster spots locked up. That would leave three spots on the active roster up for grabs. Darsch is still looking for post depth, a shooter and a backup point guard.

Roster locks appear to be Holdsclaw, guards Andrea Nagy, Nikki McCray, Markita Aldridge and rookie swing player Tonya Washington. In the frontcourt, rookie center Tausha Mills and forwards Murriel Page and Vicky Bullett are set.

With the exception of a backup point guard, Darsch addressed most of the Mystics' needs in the offseason and through the April 25 WNBA Draft. The three-way battle for the backup point guard job is among Kelly Jolly-Harper, Itoro Umoh-Coleman and Keisha Anderson.

At 5-10, Jolly-Harper is the biggest of the three and the best shooter. What Jolly-Harper lacks in quickness, she makes up for with familiarity she was Holdsclaw's point guard at Tennessee. Jolly-Harper was a fourth-round draft pick (47th overall) by the Cleveland Rockers last year and was released during the season.

"I do know [Holdsclaw's] game better than anybody," Jolly-Harper said. "I feel a lot better with this team than Cleveland. Everything seems more comfortable."

Umoh-Coleman was in the Mystics' training camp last season and was one of the Mystics' final training camp cuts. Umoh-Coleman plays up-tempo and is a slasher. Anderson played in the defunct American Basketball League for the Colorado Xplosion during the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons. Anderson is the shortest (5-7) of the three but has invaluable professional experience and is another up-tempo point guard.

"This is my first time at a camp quite like this one when there is 18 people," Anderson said. "You're not getting that rotation when you are staying on the court. You are running two plays and off and running two plays and off."

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