- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 2, 2002

Attention WNBA: The Washington Mystics are for real.
It's going to be a fun summer at MCI Center if last night's season opener is any indication. The Mystics played a near-perfect game to open Marianne Stanley's coaching tenure.
Star forward Chamique Holdsclaw posted a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds, and rookie guard Stacey Dales-Schuman led all scorers with 23 points as the Mystics defeated the Orlando Miracle 93-82 before 17,383.
This was just the second time in six seasons the Mystics have won an opener. The 93 points were the second most in franchise history and marked just the third time the Mystics had topped 90.
"It's a great day to be a Mystics fan," Stanley said. "I hope the fans had a taste of what the new Mystics are all about. We promised great effort and great energy, and I think we delivered. I think our team was extremely focused and played the game the way we wanted to play it from start to finish."
While Holdsclaw was at her three-time All-Star best, she will not travel with the team for tomorrow's game at Phoenix so she can attend her grandmother's funeral in New York. June Holdsclaw, who died Monday, raised her basketball-playing granddaughter. It's uncertain whether Holdsclaw will meet the team in Salt Lake City for Tuesday's game against the Utah Starzz.
"I had a tough week, and before the game I was like, 'OK, basketball is not my priority,'" Holdsclaw said. "I came to play today because I knew my grandmother was coming here. In the big picture of life, basketball means nothing to me. I don't think I played, I was kind of like in my own zone."
Holdsclaw's teammates covered her back. Point guard Annie Burgess tied the team record with nine assists. Shooting guard Coco Miller scored a career-high 13 points and had career highs in assists (four) and steals (four). Helen Luz came off the bench to score 15 points in just nine minutes.
"I love playing this style basketball," Miller said. "You just got to take shots when you are open."
For the game, the Mystics made 30 of 64 shots (46.9 percent) and outrebounded the Miracle 40-29, with 16 offensive rebounds; last season the Mystics averaged just 60.3 points. Yet Dee Brown, the Miracle's first-year coach, thought the Mystics' 93 points was an aberration.
"We gave up 93 points to a team that has a hard time scoring," Brown said.
Not anymore. The Mystics took total control of the first half for a 50-30 lead, with their scoring total tying the franchise record for points in a half. Holdsclaw and Dales-Schuman had 13 each.
Nine Mystics scored in the half, and the Mystics' bench outscored the Miracle's reserves 16-8. Burgess did a good job of controlling the game's tempo. Burgess, who recorded five assists in the first half, pushed the ball when she saw fastbreak opportunities and expertly ran Stanley's motion offense in the halfcourt sets.
Any questions about Dales-Schuman's ability were answered emphatically when the Canadian guard hit a circus shot while driving down the left side of the lane. With her back to the basket and hanging in the air, Dales-Schuman flipped the ball over her head and off the glass for the shot of the game.
"A lot of people underestimated us and we feel very confident; we have a lot of weapons inside and out," Dales-Schuman said. "This team can have any number of starting lineups. That is a very positive and confident attitude that we will take from our versatility and our deep bench."
The Miracle (1-1) were a perfect opponent against which the Mystics could flex their new muscle. Most WNBA prognosticators believe Orlando will finish .500 or better this season, and Washington's ability to blow out the Miracle clearly was an indication of things to come. Point guard Shannon Johnson led the Miracle with 22 points, forward Nykesha Sales added 15 and center Taj McWilliams-Franklin contributed 11.
Notes
Washington Wizards Brendan Haywood and forward Etan Thomas were on hand to check out the new-look Mystics. Referees Bob Trammell, Teresa Dahlem and Denise Brooks-Clauser whistled both teams for 53 fouls, a WNBA record. Amazingly, only Miracle reserve forward Brooke Wyckoff fouled out.

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