- The Washington Times - Friday, August 2, 2002

Late in the second half of Tuesday's loss to Orlando, Washington Mystics forward Stacey Dales-Schuman bricked a 3-pointer one of six she missed in yet another uncharacteristically poor shooting night for the rookie.
As the frustration of the Mystics' fourth straight loss set in, a fan hurled this exasperated barb at Washington coach Marianne Stanley: "What's wrong with Stacey, Marianne?"
It was more of a genuine concern than a sneer. Dales-Schuman ended the night with seven points, four of them in garbage time, on 3-for-11 shooting. She hasn't scored more than 11 points in her last six games and is just barely averaging a 3-pointer per game over that span.
A stretch this lean would have seemed unlikely in June. The darling of Washington's remarkable first half, Dales-Schuman outscored even star Chamique Holdsclaw in her debut June1 against Orlando. That 23-point effort was the first of seven consecutive games in which she reached double figures.
After scoring a career-best 26 points June25 at Sacramento, Dales-Schuman seemed to have emerged as the perfect complement to Holdsclaw so much so that when Holdsclaw was deemed unable to play in last month's All-Star Game, Dales-Schuman was her natural replacement.
A month later, the ponytailed wunderkind seems to have hit a wall. After her breakthrough first half, she is not taking opposing defenses by surprise anymore.
"Teams are playing us harder and tougher and scouting us more thoroughly," Dales-Schuman said. "They're taking away what we do. We've got to have counters for that."
Indeed, Stanley conceded after Washington's loss Tuesday that the Mystics' halfcourt offense is well known to teams at this point. In response, Washington (15-10) has added some plays to its arsenal for tonight's game against Portland at MCI Center.
Other changes may be afoot, too, if Washington's struggles continue. Stanley said Tuesday that personnel shakeups are not out of the question.
"The lineup is not fixed in stone," she said. "I'm reluctant to do that, because I don't think it's necessary. But at this stage, we've got some people not playing well and, quite frankly, I don't have the answer."
Should changes be made to the starting lineup, Dales-Schuman who has seen her playing time reduced of late may be a candidate to come off the bench. She has started every game she's played in this season and as of yesterday was still listed as a likely starter tonight. However, veteran forward Murriel Page took more turns with the regular lineup near the end of practice.
Despite her recent cold stretch, Dales-Schuman insists her confidence hasn't waned. Instead of dwelling on her shooting slump, she says, she's doubled her efforts in other phases of the game. During Annie Burgess' recent absence with a strained calf, for example, Dales-Schuman was able to shoulder some of the point guard responsibilities.
"I do other things," Dales-Schuman said. "Everyone looks at stats. Everyone looks at shooting and how many points you score. What people don't look at, what you might not see is the other things the assists, the way you set screens, the way you compensate in other ways. I'm doing that."
The problem for the Mystics is that Dales-Schuman isn't the only player whose shot has betrayed her lately. Coco Miller, the team's third-leading scorer and a natural candidate to help Holdsclaw carry the offensive load, has been in a slump of her own. She went 0-for-6 from the field Tuesday and is just 10-for-41 over her last five games.
Washington will hope that the sight of Portland lights a fire under Miller tonight. In the two teams' previous meeting June28, Miller scored a team-high 17 points, sending her on a hot streak that carried the Mystics during the first few games that Holdsclaw missed with a sprained ankle.
Notes The first 12,000 fans to enter MCI Center tonight will receive a candy dispenser. After the game, the Mystics will throw a slumber party for more than 700 Girl Scouts.

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