- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 27, 2001

In late June 1998, Bill Clinton was in the White House, Michael Jordan was the three-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and the expansion Washington Mystics were in the midst of an eight-game losing streak.

Now, George W. Bush is president, Shaquille O'Neal is the two-time MVP … and the Mystics will try to avert an eight-game losing streak in tonight's rescheduled game at the red-hot Houston Comets.

The more things change, the more they stay the same for the Mystics and nobody in the Washington organization has figured out how to lift the team above its mediocrity.

"There's no one to point the finger at," Mystics All-Star forward Chamique Holdsclaw said Monday after her 23 points proved fruitless in an ugly 55-51 loss to the Minnesota Lynx. "We can't point the finger at the coach, we can't point the finger at a lot of different things. We as a team, we've got to get it done. And we're not getting it done."

The amount of losses the Mystics (2-8) have compiled is surprising considering the roster general manager Melissa McFerrin has formed.

The Mystics include three reigning or former All-Stars (Holdsclaw, Vicky Bullett, Nikki McCray), two backup guards who led their native Brazil and France to championships (Helen Luz, Audrey Sauret) and a bench with a healthy mix of youth and experience.

"I don't know," Lynx forward Katie Smith said Monday when asked where she thinks Washington's problems lie. "They've got some talent. They have some good post players, some veterans, Chamique's playing better this year.

"They've got the tools to do it, but they've got to come and get it as a team."

The Mystics are running out of time.

Washington tonight faces the four-time WNBA champion Comets (8-1), who look poised to hoist a fifth banner to the rafters of Compaq Center come September, despite losing All-Star forward Sheryl Swoopes to injury and WNBA all-time leading scorer Cynthia Cooper to retirement.

Unless they pull off a big upset, the Mystics will match the second-longest losing streak in franchise history against a Houston team that is riding an eight-game winning streak.

Even if Washington finds a way to stop its skid before reaching the team- and league-high 11-game losing streak it posted midway through the 1998 season, the forecast does not look bright for the Mystics a team considered a playoff contender in the preseason.

June, with its seven home games and just four Western Conference opponents, was expected to be the easy period on the Mystics' schedule. July and August bring cross-country trips and the talented teams of the West.

Holdsclaw, an optimist even in the face of the current losing streak, isn't overly positive about her team's postseason chances this year.

"Hopefully I'll play a lot of years and we'll win that championship one day," she said. "Right now, we're just struggling and we need to get out of it."

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