- The Washington Times - Friday, April 5, 2002

The Washington Mystics have unsuccessfully tried the local route (Jim Lewis), the WNBA route (Nancy Darsch), the NBA route (Darrell Walker) and the international route (Tom Maher) to find a coach who can put a winning team on the court. Now the perennial losers are trying the Hall of Fame route.

In what seems like an annual rite of spring, the Mystics yesterday named assistant Marianne Stanley as the team's sixth coach in five seasons. The Mystics also hired legendary University of Tennessee women's coach Pat Summitt as a player personnel consultant.

"Let's just be real candid about this: I think everybody feels players included, myself, everyone that Washington underachieved last year," Stanley said of the Mystics 10-22 record. "We didn't play the way we thought we could. We didn't win the way we thought we could. Honestly, our personnel, our players, they want to win. There were 12 games decided by six points or less. That's almost half the schedule, and we were 4-8. I've always thrived in challenging situations."

Is the Summitt hire merely a show, or a dire case of brand name syndrome? The Mystics insist Summitt's role will be evaluating and developing talent, representing the team during the April 19 WNBA Draft and advising on matters such as trades and waivers.

However, Summitt conceded that she will not have the final say on all player personnel decisions. They will be decided by a committee of herself; Stanley; Susan O'Malley, president of Washington Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Mystics; and Judy Holland Burton, who has been elevated to senior vice president of business and basketball operations.

"[The Mystics] know they can pick up the phone and call me," Summitt said yesterday during a video teleconference from Knoxville, Tenn. "I'm exactly what they asked me to be a consultant. They need to feel that I'm there and accessible."

Summitt, whose six NCAA basketball titles are second only to the 10 of UCLA men's coach John Wooden, said her role with the Mystics won't interfere with her job as coach of the Vols. The WNBA season is in the summer, also a crucial recruiting time for high school prospects playing AAU ball. Summitt, 49, said she can juggle both jobs.

"I have three staff members that go out [recruiting]," Summitt said. "I think that's something that I can handle and the university has signed off on it and we're going to make it happen. I can go with very little sleep, and I'm a high-energy person. I can get to a lot of different places in a relatively short period of time. You may see more of me than you expect to see."

Later this month, Stanley will be inducted into the Women's National Basketball Hall of Fame. Summitt was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., two years ago.

Stanley brings impeccable credentials. In her 21-year college coaching career, she won three national titles with two national coach of the year honors and four conference coach of the year awards at Old Dominion, Pennsylvania, Southern California, Stanford and California. Stanley compiled an overall record of 415-224 (.649).

The Mystics have never had a winning season. Stanley, 47, has been handling all scouting duties for the Mystics since Jan. 4 when then-general manager Melissa McFerrin and then-coach Maher were fired.

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