- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Washington Mystics are set to begin the second half of their season, but even though they are 3-11, a playoff push still is still possible.

There are 20 games left, and the Mystics would need to overtake the Chicago Sky (8-9) and the Atlanta Dream (6-9) in the in the Eastern Conference to eek out a playoff spot.

But in order to turn their season around, Washington will need to play stronger defense and produce more offense. Coach Trudi Lacey hoped to begin the turnaround against the San Antonio Silver Stars (9-5)on Tuesday night at Verizon Center. Before Tuesday’s contest, the Silver Stars were just 5-5 in their past 10 games. They Mystics entered having lost eight of 10.

Washington began the season as the youngest team in the league, with four rookies on the squad. That changed Monday when veteran forward DeMya Walker was added to the roster and rookies Ta’Shia Phillips and Karima Christmas were released.

Walker, a strong post player, is expected to fit in well with Crystal Langhorne and Nicky Anosike, and help the Mystics shore up their rebounding and defense.

“I was shocked when I got the call. I didn’t know I was coming to the Mystics,” Walker said. “But I thought, ‘Great, keep moving forward.’ I was excited to start a new journey and accept the challenge.”

Walker’s best season was in 2005, when she averaged 14.1 points and 5.3 rebounds, made the All-Star team and was a key player in the Sacramento Monarchs’ championship run.

She has a career average of 7.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.

“I have always been known for my defense,” said the former University of Virginia standout. “I think my defense is the strongest aspect of my game, and I know that that can be used here. I’ve been in the league 12 years, so I have a lot of experience and a lot of veteran leadership I can bring. I just have a desire to be out there, a desire to play and I’m excited to be here. I think that will spread.”

As for the Mystics making a second-half playoff push, Walker called it a game-by-game process.

“Every game is its own situation, and you have to handle each situation as it comes,” she said. “The only way that you get out of the hole that you’re in is to win each game, but not worry about the next one.”

All-Star Crystal Langhorne sees the advantages of having another veteran post presence on the team.

“I think she’s going to bring a lot of energy. She’s a great rebounder and a great defender,” Langhorne said of Walker. As for making a playoff run from the bottom of the Eastern Conference, Langhorne agrees with her new teammate; it’s just a game-by-game process.

“We have to take it one game at a time and not look too far ahead,” she said. “We just have to go out there and try to get wins.”

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

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