- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Mystics, ravaged by injuries in recent weeks, will turn to post players Crystal Langhorne and Nicky Anosike to lead the offense against the Connecticut Sun on Thursday.

With Alana Beard and Ta’shia Phillips day-to-day and Monique Currie out for the season, the Mystics will have a different look from when they opened the regular season against the Sun on June 4. Washington lost the first matchup 89-73 in Connecticut.

The team is forced to rely more heavily on Langhorne and Anosike’s offensive contributions. But coach Trudi Lacey says the game plan against the Sun is the same as it was earlier in the season, when fewer players were nursing injuries.

“From the start, we’ve wanted to establish a post presence, which we have with [Langhorne and Anosike], so that’s not different from what we initially wanted to do,” Lacey said. “We still have very good perimeter players, even though [Beard and Currie] are out. So we haven’t changed too much with what we want to do.”

Langhorne and Anosike combined for 59 of the Mystics’ 98 points when they defeated the Atlanta Dream in overtime last week for their first win of the season. But Anosike scored just seven points in Washington’s 84-77 loss to the Chicago Sky on Saturday.

Anosike, whose 29 points against the Dream were a career high, said she has felt added pressure to carry the team while other players recover.

“Our top scorers are out with injuries, so I’m taking on a role that I wasn’t really expecting when I found out I was coming here,” she said. “The better teams are able to fight through adversity and pick up teammates that are down.”

Langhorne said she counts on Anosike and the rest of her teammates to work together to overcome the absence of key players.

“I know people are going to play their game,” Langhorne said. “We have lots of guards. We have Nicky in the post. It’s going to be a team effort.”

Langhorne and Anosike also have established their post presence by being dominant on the boards. Each recorded 13 rebounds in the Mystics’ victory against Atlanta. Washington is tied for second in the league in offensive rebounds.

Anosike has averaged 8.3 boards, tying her for fourth in the league, and Langhorne has averaged 7.7 rebounds. The Sun’s leading rebounder, center Tina Charles, averages six a game.

Collecting rebounds and driving to the basket will be Washington’s strategy, in spite of the fact that the Mystics spent time in practice working on 3-point shots.

“Our game plan always is to establish ourselves in the paint first, so we go inside out,” Lacey said. “In the event that we’re open for 3s, we want to be able to take them, but that won’t be our first look.”

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