- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Twelve games into his first season as Washington Mystics coach, Michael Adams is not too pleased.

Heading into tonight’s game against the Connecticut Sun (8-7) at the Mohegan Sun Casino, the Mystics (5-7) are languishing in their customary spot at the bottom of the WNBA’s Eastern Conference.

“Am I happy? No. Not at all. There’s nothing to be happy about,” Adams said. “We know that there’s a lot more parity in this league. We think we have better talent on the team from last year. But where we are right now? No, I’m not happy. I don’t think anybody on our team is happy.”

Adams knew he would have to battle to change the culture of losing with a franchise that has had just one winning season in seven years. But Washington has struggled on offense — Chamique Holdsclaw (21.1 points) is the only player averaging in double figures, and rookie guard Alana Beard is shooting 30.6 percent from the floor.

The second pick overall in the WNBA Draft was expected to complement Holdsclaw on offense but seems to have hit the “rookie wall.” Counting her time with the Mystics and her final season at Duke, Beard has played 46 games since November.

On top of the offensive problems, Washington is the WNBA’s worst defensive team, allowing 71.2 points a game. The Mystics are 1-7 in games in which their opponents have topped 70 points.

“I can’t say our defense is great then because it obviously shows up in the stats,” Mystics backup center Chasity Melvin said. “I’ll say our problem with defense is inconsistency. That’s the biggest problem. Everything we did in those games that we’ve won, we’ve got to find out how we can make that consistent.”

Consistency would be big considering the schedule the rest of the season. The Mystics have four more sets of back-to-back games, three-game and two-game West Coast trips and 12 of their remaining 22 games on the road. In fact, the Mystics end the season with three road games — San Antonio, Phoenix and New York. The Mystics are 3-3 on the road this season.

The Mystics, who play the Indiana Fever tomorrow at MCI Center, already have lost two games to the Sun by an average of 9.5 points. From a tiebreaker standpoint, the Mystics cannot afford to lose a third.

“It’s a must-win to prove that we can beat this team,” Beard said.

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