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Mystics using Olympic break to regroup

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Michelle Snow stood alone at the far end of the Mystics' practice court. It was an hour before practice was scheduled to start, and the Mystics' new 6-foot-5 center was busy working on her shot.

At 32, Snow has played for five WNBA teams, is a two-time All-Star, and was a member of the USA Basketball squad during her college days at Tennessee. She's been to the playoffs six of her 10 seasons in the league and isn't used to losing.

"We're taking this time to get to know each other, work on our team chemistry and maintaining our conditioning," Snow said.

The Mystics' 4-14 start hasn't been easy on Snow or anyone else on the team, but she's hoping the Olympic break has given the team exactly what they need — time to make a fresh start and get to know each other.

Toward that end, the Mystics have engaged in a few off-the-court team-building activities, including a trip to the Washington waterfront and cutting practice short one afternoon to enjoy a rare indulgence together — ice cream.

"It helps once you get to know people," Snow said. "You get to know what they went through to get where they are, and you respect them more. You want to fight for them, and you want them to fight for you."

The Mystics will resume their season with back-to-back games Aug. 16 and 17 in Indiana and Minnesota and will play their next home game Aug. 19 against Chicago.

"We did a lot of stuff without the basketball for a good week," said second-year point guard Jasmine Thomas. "We were just running, working on our footwork, our speed and agility — all stuff that we can put into our game once we get back on the court."

The Mystics' final game before the break was a win over the New York Liberty, which Thomas said gave the team some much-needed momentum.

"We have some time before we have to get ready for an opponent, so we get to work on things we need to get better at," Thomas said.

Some obvious areas of improvement would include shooting, turnovers and defending the 3-point line. The Mystics rank last in scoring, (69.9 points), have the third-worst turnover percentage (16.9) behind Atlanta and Chicago, and shoot 30 percent from 3-point range while giving up 36 percent.

Coach Trudi Lacey called the hiatus a second training camp for the team.

"We've spent a lot of time working on fundamentals, getting to know each other as a team," Lacey said. "We're in a rebuilding process, and it's not going to happen overnight. This team, once we added Shannon Bobbitt, has only been together about four weeks."

In a nutshell, Lacey described the team as "consistently inconsistent."

"Hopefully, what we've done during the break will pay off on the court, and we'll be a more cohesive unit," Lacey said. "The New York game was an indication that we're moving in the right direction."

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