- The Washington Times - Monday, June 23, 2003

Chamique Holdsclaw has scored 44 points in the two games since she was activated from the injured list, but the Washington Mystics star admits she might have done too much too soon.

Holdsclaw reaggravated her right hamstring injury in the first half of Friday’s loss at Cleveland and sat out Washington’s practices Sunday and yesterday. She will have her bruised and swollen hamstring evaluated this morning and is questionable for tonight’s game against Connecticut at MCI Center.

The four-time All-Star pulled her hamstring while hustling to get back on defense Friday, but still went on to score a season-high 27 points and grab 12 rebounds in 35 minutes against the Rockers. She said it was a “different kind of discomfort” than her first injury in that she felt more pain behind her knee.

“My problem is that I get so caught up in the game and being ultra-competitive and wanting to win,” Holdsclaw said. “The trainer told me that if she would have known how bad it was, she would have kept me out. But during the game, I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, just give me some heat and I’ll be fine.’

“And then after the game, I could barely bend it.”

Holdsclaw originally injured her hamstring during a June3 practice and the Mystics went 1-3 in her absence. She returned with a 17-point, 17-rebound performance last Wednesday against Sacramento, but her efforts haven’t been enough to get the Mystics (2-7) out of their four-game losing skid.

Holdsclaw’s questionable status is yet another obstacle the last-place Mystics must overcome.

“We’re preparing to not have her,” Mystics coach Marianne Stanley said. “If we have her and we get lucky, that’d be great news. If we don’t, we’re prepared.”

When Holdsclaw first went to the injured list, second-year forward Asjha Jones started in her place. Stanley said yesterday that Jones, who only played six minutes against Cleveland, is one of “several options” that she’s considering if Holdsclaw is unable to go. Stanley also said rookie Aishya Smith has played well in practice and is a possible starter.

“In this game, you got to deal with injuries,” Stanley said. “They happen. We’ll deal with this one in due time once we know the extent or the seriousness. Everybody else has to step up.”

One player who has done that is guard Coco Miller, who led the team in scoring the first three games that Holdsclaw missed, including the Mystics’ 84-70 loss at Connecticut on June13.

“It’s tough playing without her because she provides us with so much,” Miller said. “I try to help any way I can, but we really need her. If she can get healthy by sitting out a game or two and get 100 percent healthy, then that would be the best thing to do.”

Perhaps more important than offense will be how the Mystics’ defense performs tonight. The Mystics have been prone to being on the wrong end of lopsided runs lately; Cleveland jumped out to a 35-14 lead against Washington on Saturday and Sacramento opened up an early 19-6 lead on Wednesday.

“Defensively and rebounding-wise, we’re giving up points in bunches,” Stanley said. “We’ve got to limit the other teams to one shot. We’re giving up too many two- and three-rebound offensive sequences for our opponents and it’s costing us games.”

The fact that her team is slumping only adds to Holdsclaw’s drive to not miss any more games.

“I love to play,” Holdsclaw said. “That’s what I do for a living. If I wasn’t in the WNBA, I’d be outside playing somewhere. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch, especially as we’re trying to turn things around.

“But if that’s what I have to do, I’ll be the team’s number one cheerleader.”

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