- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2003

In tonight’s game against the Indiana Fever at Conseco Fieldhouse, Chamique Holdsclaw will join exclusive company when she pulls down her 1,000th WNBA rebound and scores her 2,000th point.

These milestones come on the heels of Holdsclaw’s outstanding season-opening performance when she set a league rebound record with 24 in last Friday’s 74-70 road victory against the Charlotte Sting.

The 6-foot-2 Holdsclaw is two rebounds short of becoming the ninth player in the WNBA’s seven-season history to grab 1,000. She also is nine points shy of becoming the 14th player in league history to score 2,000 points.

“It’s exciting, especially after the success we had last year,” Holdsclaw said. “I’ve always said the accolades will come as long as you have success. Hopefully, I can go out there and just continue playing well for the team.”

If Holdsclaw, who is in her fifth season, stays healthy and averages 20 or more points this season, she’ll top 2,500 points later this summer. Only Los Angeles Sparks center Lisa Leslie has scored 3,000 points in league history.

“Pretty impressive for someone so young,” Mystics coach Marianne Stanley said of Holdsclaw’s imminent milestones. “I think it also speaks to her competitive nature but also to her obvious versatility and skill. To be this early on in your career and set the kind of milestones we’re talking about, is just incredible. As long as she’s able to perform, anything is possible, as we saw against Charlotte. As long as she’s self-motivated to really strive to be the best, it’s pretty scary what she could accomplish in what should be a very long career.”

Holdsclaw, 25, entered this season tied for the fourth-highest scoring average (17.6) among active WNBA players, behind Houston’s Cynthia Cooper (21.1), Indiana’s Tamika Catchings (18.6) and Minnesota’s Katie Smith (18.0).

The Mystics (1-0) haven’t had a lot to cheer about in their six seasons, but Holdsclaw’s personal milestones certainly are noteworthy. She hasn’t made this much noise to start a season since her rookie year, when the Mystics made her the top pick out of Tennessee in the 1999 WNBA Draft.

Since the Mystics have assembled scoring weapons around Holdsclaw, a four-time WNBA All-Star, opponents no longer can triple- or even quadruple-team the power forward because her teammates can make open shots. With perimeter shooters in place, Holdsclaw’s numbers should skyrocket as long as this team remains together.

“As good as Chamique or someone of her stature is, you have to have a collective approach,” forward Stacey Dales-Schuman said. “You have to have people around you that can flow, that can make things happen and that can hit shots. Chamique needs her peers to hit shots and give her the basketball.”

This weekend will tell a lot about Holdsclaw and her teammates. The Mystics play the first of four scheduled sets of back-to-back games when they visit the Fever (0-1) tonight and the defending Eastern Conference champion New York Liberty tomorrow afternoon. New York opens its season tonight in Cleveland.

Coming off a seven-day break — the longest layoff between games this season — the Mystics will be rested for the Fever, who struggled in a season-opening 66-57 loss at Charlotte on Thursday.

“It’s tough flying commercial — we’re going to get into New York like 1 in the morning and then have to play later that day,” Holdsclaw said. “But that’s the way the league is set up and [the Liberty] have to do the same thing.”

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