- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 19, 2001

As the Cleveland Rockers started the late 15-point run Sunday at MCI Center that sent the Washington Mystics to their fourth straight loss, the woman in the denim jacket watching from the Washington bench could only hope her new team would survive.

She could not get on the court and contribute, and it was killing her.

"I didn't like that," Audrey Sauret said. "I didn't like it because, you know, you can't do anything … when you stay on the bench."

Fortunately for the slumping Mystics (2-5), the woman in the jean jacket who admittedly is a stranger to the sidelines likely won't be sitting there much longer.

Sauret, a 5-foot-10 native of France, could give the Mystics a much-needed boost at either guard position and help Washington get back into the early Eastern Conference playoff hunt.

Last Wednesday, Sauret led her Valenciennes team to the French League title. Saturday she flew to America, and Sunday she watched Cleveland eke out the 57-55 win over the Mystics.

Yesterday she finally got the chance to play, and by all accounts Sauret's prospects are good.

"She's very impressive," Mystics coach Tom Maher said yesterday after running the 24-year-old through an individual workout for more than an hour at MCI.

"She's got a great feel for the game," Maher said. "She makes other people better."

And that's exactly what the Mystics have been lacking from their guards lately: the ability to set up teammates to score.

In the locker room after the Cleveland defeat, Mystics starting center Vicky Bullett said she counted at least 10 instances in the first half when she was open in the post but did not receive a pass from the backcourt.

That's a problem that could be solved by Sauret.

"I think Audrey brings a real veteran-type decision-maker and veteran-type passer," Mystics general manager Melissa McFerrin said. "Her greatest value to us is going to be decision-making with the ball in her hands, creating shots for other people."

And if she can't find a way to get one of her teammates a shot, Sauret can always find the hoop herself another plus for Washington, tied with the Miami Sol as the WNBA's lowest-scoring team (62.8 ppg).

"She's an excellent shooter," Maher said. "She's got a real terrific jump shot … [and] she's capable from [behind the 3-point line] as well."

And she comes through in the clutch.

"She has a history and a reputation of making the big shot to win games," Maher said. "A big 3 or a big 2 she's not afraid to take that last shot, and she's got a reputation of making them."

Maybe that's why Sauret sat frustrated Sunday, watching the Mystics miss three shots in the final minute that could have tied or won the game against the Rockers.

For Sauret to get on the court, though, the Mystics will have to make some changes. McFerrin would not say who will be removed from the roster when Sauret is activated, only that "there are a number of players that I think are in competition for our last couple roster spots."

Sauret hopes to be activated and in uniform for the Mystics' home game against Miami on Thursday.

"I don't think it's unreasonable to expect [that]," McFerrin said.

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