Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Maryland basketball team filled its assistant coaching openings yesterday — and created a vacancy for a coach with the Washington Mystics.

Michael Adams left the WNBA club after one season to be reunited with Gary Williams. The sharpshooting point guard played for Williams at Boston College from 1982 to 1985, then spent 11 seasons with the Sacramento Kings, Washington Bullets and Denver Nuggets before finishing his playing career with the Charlotte Hornets during the 1995-96 season.

Last season Adams went 17-17, leading the Mystics to the playoffs. He departed on the eve of today’s WNBA Draft. The Mystics, who have the sixth pick overall in the draft, have little time to name a coach with training camp opening soon and their first preseason game May 5.

?This opportunity with Maryland came about very quickly and wasn’t something I planned on,? Adams said. ?And while I’m looking forward to joining Gary Williams and the Maryland staff, I will always be rooting for the Mystics and Wizards.?

The Terps also added University of Charlotte assistant Rob Moxley, who served as the 49ers’ top assistant and recruiting coordinator the past seven seasons. Moxley, who played at Fauquier High School in Warrenton, Va., and Montgomery College in Rockville, helped coach Charlotte into the NCAA tournament in four of the past five seasons.

Maryland was forced to overhaul its staff when its top two assistants got head coaching positions, Dave Dickerson at Tulane and Mike Lonergan at Vermont. Third assistant Keith Booth will be the lone holdover on Williams’ staff.

Adams served as a television analyst for the Washington Bullets in 1996-97 and began his coaching career in 1999 as an assistant for the International Basketball League’s Richmond Rhythm. In 2000, he returned to the NBA as an assistant with the Vancouver Grizzlies and also served with that franchise in Memphis through the 2001-02 season.

“I’ve known him a long time, and as a player he was always one of those guys who overachieved in the Big East and the NBA,” Williams said of Adams. “We like each other, and he’s a good fit for us. He did a great job last season with the Mystics.”

Adams led the Mystics to the WNBA playoffs last season under difficult circumstances. Since-traded star Chamique Holdsclaw missed much of the season with a mystery ailment she later divulged was depression.

Adams’ best NBA season came in 1990-91, when he averaged 26.5 points and 10.5 assists for the Nuggets. In 1992, during his second stint with the Bullets, he was selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

The undersized playmaker averaged 14.7 points, 6.7 assists and 2.9 rebounds in his career. He led the NBA in 3-pointers made during the 1987-88 and 1990-91 seasons and made at least one in 79 consecutive games across the 1988 and 1989 seasons, second on the NBA’s all-time list behind Dana Barros.

Adams starred under Williams at Boston College, finishing as the Eagles’ fifth-leading career scorer, and was selected in the third round of the 1985 NBA Draft by Sacramento.

Moxley is regarded as a top recruiter who has brought players like NBA lottery pick Rodney White to Charlotte. He was a junior college All-American guard at Montgomery College in 1991 before playing two seasons at Newberry College in South Carolina. He earned a degree in history in 1994 from Pfeiffer University in North Carolina, where he began his coaching career.

“I grew up a die-hard Maryland fan going to games at Cole Field House, and I always wanted to be a coach at Maryland,” Moxley said. “This is truly a dream come true. Maryland was the only assistant job I would have left Charlotte for.”

The Mystics, who have had seven coaches in seven seasons, will begin a search for a coach immediately, with their season slated to open May 21 at Charlotte. Adams is the third major loss for the franchise in the offseason. The unhappy Holdsclaw was traded to Los Angeles for DeLisha Milton-Jones, and starting guard Stacey Dales-Schuman retired to become a television analyst for ESPN.

The Mystics also made a trade yesterday, sending the 13th pick overall in today’s draft to the Detroit Shock for 6-foot-5 forward/center Iciss Tillis, a college teammate of Mystics guard Alana Beard at Duke.

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