- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 12, 2007

Forward DeLisha Milton-Jones just arrived back in the United States on Thursday night after finishing her season in Spain. Center Chasity Melvin still is adjusting after returning from Russia earlier this week. Nikki Teasley is feeling the effects from her recent return from Turkey.

The Washington Mystics’ season opener is one week away, but before they can begin preparing for the Connecticut Sun, they first must overcome a different kind of battle: jet lag.

“I can’t wait to get my legs back,” Teasley said. “It will be nice when everybody is ready to play.”

Coach Richie Adubato plans for the team to mesh quickly and has scheduled some two-a-day practices — a rarity this late in camp — to help get the late-arriving teammates up to speed. Washington will play its final preseason game tomorrow against Israel’s Ramat Hasharon at Verizon Center.

Last season, Washington finished with an 18-16 record, setting a team mark for wins in its ninth season. However, the Mystics were swept by the Sun, the Eastern Conference’s top-seed, in the playoffs.

Washington added Teasley and forward Crystal Robinson before last season and the pair is expected, once again, to be next to Alana Beard, Melvin and Milton-Jones in the starting lineup.

“It is kind of like a high school team,” said Adubato, in his third season with Washington. “It is like they were all juniors last season and are coming for their senior years. We should be better.”

Teasley admits while it was initially difficult to pick up Adubato’s precise system, she feels much more comfortable in it now. Beard likes that there were no major changes, not only to the system, but also to the roster.

“The fact that we have everybody back [is key],” said Beard, who averaged a team-high 19.2 points last season. “I am a firm believer that teams that stay together win. And everybody has had at least a year in Richie’s system, which is pretty intricate.”

The Mystics have some new players who could crack the rotation, like 6-foot-1 forward Bernice Mosby, the team’s first-round draft pick (sixth overall) out of Baylor. Six-foot-3 center Teana Miller, chosen in the dispersal draft from the defunct Charlotte franchise, also could see time as Washington will be at a considerable size disadvantage against several teams.

Six-foot-7 rookie Gillian Goring, out of N.C. State, is seen as a “project” by Adubato. The Mystics will have to make a roster decision at point guard, where Teasley and top reserve Nikki Blue are recovering from knee injuries. Washington has veteran Rita Williams in camp as insurance.

But first things first for Melvin, Milton-Jones and Teasley: rest.

“I am not rested up,” said Melvin, who spent the last eight months in Russia. “But I will be.”

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