- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2007

The Washington Mystics opened training camp yesterday with little uncertainty heading into their 10th season.

The roster likely will stay the same as last season — when the team went a franchise-best 18-16 and reached the playoffs — even though all five starters were either injured or overseas when camp opened at Verizon Center.

Throw in rookie forward Bernice Mosby, the sixth pick of the WNBA Draft out of Baylor, and Mystics camp might seem to be more formality than anything else.

One question, though, is how many post players coach Richie Adubato will carry when camp ends, especially considering Eastern Conference powers Detroit and Connecticut traded talented post players to the West.

“We would like to go five people up front and then six people in the backcourt,” Adubato said. “When we look at it, we’ve still got [Chasity] Melvin overseas. We still have [Nakia] Sanford overseas. That’s two. DeLisha [Milton-Jones] is overseas. That’s three. And there’s two spots up front for all of these girls here.”

The 6-foot-1 Mosby will take one of those spots, Adubato said, leaving four players — 6-7 rookie Gillian Goring, 6-3 veteran Teana Miller, 6-3 rookie Meredith Alexis and 6-7 Zane Teilane, who was inactive most of last season — to vie for one spot.

“That should make them compete even harder,” said starting guard Alana Beard, who sat out yesterday with a sore shoulder suffered last week playing with the U.S. team in Italy. “We have these players out here that have been here — Nakia, Chasity and then DeLisha, who can go back and forth between the four and the five. So can Chasity. We have very versatile post players. It’s going to be interesting to see who we keep.”

Crystal Robinson, the Mystics’ starting small forward, also sat out yesterday’s workout.

With so many regulars out of action, the first day of camp belonged to Mosby, an honorable mention All-American who averaged 17.6 points and 9.1 rebounds as a senior. But Mosby said she wasn’t pleased with her first day.

“Definitely playing defense — it’s a lot faster than it is on the college level,” Mosby said. “I think that’s the main thing I will probably have a little bit of trouble with, but I’m trying to work on it guarding a guard.”

Mosby spent most of her college career as a power forward because of her athleticism and rebounding ability. But Adubato plans to convert her to a small forward, concerned Mosby might struggle against the league’s bigger players.

“Bernice looked very good today. She can score,” Adubato said. “Now, she’s an undersized four. We would like to see her convert to a three. She can really run the floor and has a good feel for the game. She can flat out score.”

During a scrimmage yesterday, Mosby guarded 5-10 Tamara James, the Mystics’ first-round pick in last year’s draft. James blew past Mosby on the right wing, and all Mosby could do was foul.

Perhaps it was fatigue. Abudato’s first practice went 3 hours yesterday.

Notes — Nikki Blue, who was last season’s backup point guard to Nikki Teasley, strained a knee last week playing in Turkey and will be out three to six weeks. The team expects her to be ready for the May 19 season opener against the Connecticut Sun at Verizon Center, but as a precaution the Mystics brought in three free agent point guards, including Rita Williams, whom the Mystics selected with the 13th pick in the 1998 WNBA Draft. …

The surprise of the day was rookie forward Megan Vogel, whom Adubato called a “complete basketball player.”

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