- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Washington Mystics entered this season with a great deal of hope after finishing with the best record in the Eastern Conference last season (22-12) and making the playoffs, even though they lost in the first round.

They hoped to improve this year, but instead the Mystics are 3-11 heading into the All-Star break - and four-time All-Star Alana Beard hasn’t played.

Beard missed all of last season with an Achilles’ injury and was hopeful that she would be able to return this year. But a left foot injury has kept her sidelined since the preseason, during which she scored no points in games against Chicago and New York.

But Beard’s rehab is going well enough that she is able to start practicing again, which gives coach Trudi Lacey guarded optimism.

“She was doing really well,” Lacey said. “She traveled with us on the West Coast trip, she actually got into some practices and was looking really good. Then [Tuesday] she had a slight setback. That’s kind of how it goes. So, we’ve just met with the doctors and we just continue to work with her and try to be patient. She’s doing everything she can.”

Beard started the season with her own brand of optimism and a philosophical attitude about her injury.

“It gets better every day. Anything like this obviously is frustrating, but at the same time you have to understand that it is a process,” Beard said at the beginning of the season. “I’ve been going through it for a year, so if I don’t understand it by now, I didn’t learn my lesson, so I’m pretty cool with it. Obviously I’m upset, but I understand.”

She has been reluctant to talk about the injury further since that first week.

• Carla Peay can be reached at cpeay@washingtontimes.com.

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