Tree Rollins can forgive his team for poor shooting, but the Washington Mystics coach won’t excuse poor rebounding. With Detroit forward Cheryl Ford, the league’s leading rebounder, out for the season with a knee injury, the Mystics still lost to the Shock 76-64 before 8,700 at Verizon Center yesterday. Detroit outrebounded Washington 49-20. Rollins believes he can improve his team’s 33.3-percent shooting in yesterday’s game, but he isn’t sure about the rebounding. Rebounding is something a coach can’t coach, Rollins said. We can teach you how to rebound. But we can’t coach that during the game. You really have to go out and do it yourself. We all know Dennis Rodman. You can’t coach Dennis Rodman to rebound. Swin Cash had a game-high 10 rebounds for the Shock (19-6). Kara Braxton had nine rebounds, and Plenette Pierson and Deanna Nolan had seven each. Katie Smith led Detroit in scoring with a game-high 21 points. DeLisha Milton-Jones led the Mystics (10-14) with 17 points, while Nakia Sanford added 11 and Alana Beard had 10. But no Mystics player had more than seven rebounds. The rebounding disparity helped the Shock to a big scoring advantage in the paint (42-22), more second-chance points (19-4) and a 24-point lead at one point. They have great depth in the post, Sanford said. It doesn’t really mean anything that [Ford‘s] out, unfortunately. I wish I could go, ‘Whew, Cheryl is out. Now we can go and get it.’ We know this a team we can beat. We don’t feel this is a team that is better than us. We know we can beat them, but it’s just a matter of executing. The Mystics also struggled on the boards against the Shock in a July 21 loss, when they were outrebounded 44-31. The Mystics shot 53.3 percent in the first quarter for a 22-16 lead. But the Shock switched to a zone defense in the second quarter, forcing the Mystics to settle for outside shots. Washington, which didn’t hit a field goal in the second quarter until 8.3 seconds were left, scored just six points, one off the league record for a second quarter. We have to find a way to beat the zone, Beard said. We’ve become very passive. We have too many aggressive players, but when they go zone we just sit out on the perimeter and pass the ball around. We move the ball, but we’re not moving their defense. The Mystics’ shooting struggles also contributed to the poor rebounding. Their outside shooting led to long rebounds that, most of the time, went to the Shock. Beard said the perimeter players, including herself, gave too much responsibility to Sanford and Milton-Jones by not following their outside shots. Rollins said the Shock players did well at positioning themselves. [Detroit] does a great job of moving their hips to prevent players from being underneath the basket, he said. As you go into this game as a coaching staff, we make them aware of it and ask them to box out deeper. You say all of that, but once the game starts they realize they’re not used to teams doing that.
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