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Mystics looking for spark while acknowledging the past

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 14, 2012

In the shadow of a 4-14 first half of a another disappointing season, the Washington Mystics took a moment to remember better days. The organization will commemorate its 15th WNBA season with the unveiling of the all-time Mystics team. The celebration will take place at halftime of Sunday's game against the Chicago Sky, Washington's first at home after the Olympic break.

Crystal Langhorne, Murriel Page, Vicky Bullett, Nikki McCray and Chamique Holdsclaw were selected as the best by a fan vote on the team website.

Langhorne, the only active player, was the leading vote-getter. She is the Mystics' leading scorer this season, averaging 16.6 points, and also grabs 6.7 rebounds a game.

"It's a huge honor for me to be named to the all-time team," Langhorne said. "I'm truly honored to be a part of it, and to be a part of this organization."

Second in the balloting was Page, the first player the Mystics drafted in their 1998 inaugural season. She spent eight seasons in Washington (1998-2006) before being traded to Los Angeles.

Bullett, the fans' third selection, was a two-time Olympian (1988, 1992) who spent three seasons with Washington. McCray, fourth in the voting, was a three-time All-Star who led the team in scoring her first two seasons. Holdsclaw, fifth in the balloting, was a five-time league All-Star and is the leading rebounder in team history.

"As always, we like to be remembered," said Bullett, who was an assistant coach and manager of basketball operations for the Mystics in 2009. "I'm just so excited to have the Mystics fans remember the past. Being a part of the Mystics organization was important in my life, and it always will be."

All five members of the team are expected to be present for the celebration. Mystics owner Sheila Johnson called the all-time team an exceptional group of athletes.

"They feel like this is their home," Johnson said. "I appreciate them taking the time to be here so our fans can recognize them and appreciate their journey."

The one surprise omission from the team is Alana Beard, who spent six seasons in Washington before signing with the Los Angeles Sparks as a free agent this offseason. Although injuries kept Beard sidelined during her final two seasons with the Mystics, she is a four-time All-Star, a five-time all-defensive team selection and the franchise leader in steals.

But before the organization can pay homage to players of the past, the current team has business to take care of on the court. The Mystics will start the second half of the season on the road against two tough opponents -- the Indiana Fever (10-7) on Thursday and the defending champion Minnesota Lynx (15-4) on Friday.

The Mystics are on pace to finish 8-26, a marginal improvement over last year's 6-28 record, but not the kind of year coach Trudi Lacey was hoping for. She believes the Olympic hiatus was just what the team needed to regroup and refocus.

"We spent a lot of time improving our individual skill sets, especially on the offensive end," Lacey said. "We built a strong foundation for the second half of the season. For us, it's going to be a fresh start."

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