- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Earlier this season, Washington Mystics interim coach Tree Rollins jokingly said the team planned to announce he would remain as coach during the WNBA All-Star Game festivities at Verizon Center last weekend.

But just before the All-Star break, Mystics general manager Linda Hargrove said she won’t decide Rollins’ fate until after the season.

Heading into today’s home game against the Houston Comets, the Mystics (7-12) are in last place. But they have won seven of 11 games after starting the season 0-8.

“I think Tree is doing a terrific job. I feel very good about where we are,” Hargrove said. “But as far as making any decisions right now, it’s kind of the same as it was with Richie [Adubato]’s situation. Our policy is to address contracts at the end of the contract year. Tree’s contract is up at the end of this year.”

Mystics chief operating officer Curtis Symonds feels comfortable with Rollins but said the final decision is Hargrove’s alone.

Adubato resigned from the Mystics on June 1 after the team started 0-4. His unhappiness stemmed from the lack of a contract extension and a trade that sent starting center Chasity Melvin to the Chicago Sky.

Rollins then became the Mystics’ ninth coach in 10 years and implemented a more up-tempo pace — a stark contrast to Adubato’s complex playbook.

Though the Mystics lost their first four games under Rollins, Hargrove and the players thought those struggles were rooted more in the coaching transition rather than Rollins’ philosophy.

The trade of Melvin for Monique Currie, Adubato’s resignation and Crystal Robinson’s unexpected retirement all happened within a week.

“I think he’s done an excellent job being put in that position that was unexpected,” Currie said. “But that conversation hasn’t come up at all [among the players].”

Reserve guard Nikki Blue said the team no longer views Rollins as the interim coach but is not worried whether he will be back next season.

“I like Tree. I really do,” Blue said. “I think he’s a great coach and even a better person. It’s not up to me. It’s up to management. I hope the management does what’s best for our team.”

Rollins said his friends have often joked with him about the situation, wondering when it will be time to call him the coach. Rollins doesn’t feel strongly about Hargrove removing the interim tag but acknowledged he would prefer to have the tag removed as soon as possible.

“I’m just going to let them make the call,” he said. “If they think I’m doing a good job, if the players think I’m doing a good job, then I’m sure they’ll do the right thing.”

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