- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The Washington Mystics will go into tonight’s first preseason game against the Indiana Fever at MCI Center without their starting center.

Chasity Melvin, who led her team, Lotos VBW Clima Gydnia, to its seventh straight Polish League championship, will begin practicing with the team tomorrow.

“You hope to have her here, but the bottom line is that you go with what you have,” first-year Mystics coach Michael Adams said. “It’s almost like you’re saying that if somebody was injured you can’t play them because they’re hurt. She’s not here, so you go with what you have. When she shows up, you throw her in with the wolves.”

Melvin, a 6-foot-3, 185-pounder out of N.C. State, averaged 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds for the defunct Cleveland Rockers last season. The Mystics, who are coming off a 9-25 season, selected Melvin with the second pick overall in the WNBA Dispersal Draft.

The addition of Melvin should stabilize the Mystics’ interior and take some rebounding pressure off star Chamique Holdsclaw. Melvin, a proven low-post scorer, will demand touches in the offense. However, Melvin has missed most of the preseason, and it remains to be seen whether she can integrate herself quickly into the Mystics’ offense.

Melvin, who sat out of the 2001 WNBA All-Star Game with an eye injury, is paramount to the Mystics’ success this season. The Mystics also have 6-3 rookie center Kaayla Chones and 6-4 Nakia Sanford, but Melvin, who has shot 46.6 percent and scored 1,741 points over her six-year career, should be a focal point inside.

Meanwhile, the Mystics expect to see where they are defensively tonight. The Mystics allowed opponents to score a league-high 73.5 points a game.

“Our scoring the basketball has been really great, but our defensive intensity the last few scrimmages hasn’t been the best,” Holdsclaw said. “This last week we’ve really been focusing on defense and going out there and being able to stop people because you don’t want to be trading basket for basket. Our emphasis is our defense.”

Adams, the former Washington Bullets point guard, will be coaching his first women’s game.

“Just getting a feel for the game and how it goes — the flow of the game — and knowing when to sub and knowing when not to sub and knowing when to call plays, all of that stuff will work itself out,” Adams said.

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