- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2003

The Washington Mystics are asking Chamique Holdsclaw’s teammates to step up and replace the temporarily fallen star forward.

For at least the next three games, starting with tonight’s home opener against the Cleveland Rockers (1-1) at MCI Center, the Mystics (1-2) will not have their leading scorer and rebounder because of a strained right hamstring.

In the scoring department, the weight should fall squarely on the shoulders of small forward Stacey Dales-Schuman (10.3 points a game) and shooting guard Coco Miller (9.7).

“A lot of us have to carry the load. It can’t just be one person who has to take it upon themself, but I think I have to definitely step up my game,” Miller said.

Dales-Schuman and Miller are pure shooters, but in the Mystics’ past two games — both losses — the two perimeter players have made just 13 of 33 shots.

Dales-Schuman, who had a terrific season-opening performance against the Eastern Conference-leading Charlotte Sting with 20 points on 6-for-10 shooting, has struggled more than Miller, going 3-for-16. But Dales-Schuman, ESPN’s part-time women’s college basketball analyst, is making up for her scoring lapse in other areas. The 6-footer is fourth in the WNBA in assists with 6.3 a game.

Mystics coach Marianne Stanley isn’t overly concerned about her shooters’ cold streak because they are getting good looks at the basket.

“We’ve got to get Coco and Stacey into the flow. They both played well down in Charlotte, and then they haven’t shot well,” Stanley said. “I’d be real concerned if they were bad shots or whatever, but they’ve had shots and just didn’t make them. Sometimes that happens, your shooting goes cold.”

Second-year forward Asjha Jones is certainly making her shots. The 6-foot-2 Jones is shooting 52.6 percent from the floor (10 of 19) coming off the bench. Jones, 11th in field goal percentage, will start for Holdsclaw.

“I’m just trying to take my shots when they come and not rush things.” said Jones, who is averaging 8.0 points. “I’m not going to take any shots that are not in the flow of the offense.”

Rebounding is where the Mystics will really miss Holdsclaw, who leads the WNBA with a 15.0 average. The team’s next highest average belongs to the 5-10 Miller at 4.7.

Stanley wants her team to take a “by committee” approach without Holdsclaw. That should translate into the undersized Mystics crashing the glass.

With the exception of starting 6-2 center Murriel Page, the Mystics are inexperienced in the post with Jones, 6-2 rookie Aiysha Smith and Nakia Sanford, a 6-4, 27-year-old rookie.

“Our biggest thing is lack of experience in the post, the skill in the paint,” Stanley said. “So we’ve got to get collectively everybody stepping up. Anytime you go into a game without your best player, you have to be concerned. We’ve got to get it done as a group and not worry about that. We can’t change it.”

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