- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2011

When Mystics four-time all-star guard Alana Beard started training camp this season, she wasn’t expecting to test out her vocal chords. But Beard belted out the Temptations’ old-school hit “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” in new head coach and general manager Trudi Lacey’s first morning meeting.

“It felt really good and refreshing to be back out there with everyone. I thought everyone came in and focused in and really bought in to the first day of Trudi’s system,” Beard said. “Overall, I had a lot of fun, and I’m just happy to be back.”

Lacey’s inclusion of a songfest by the Mystics’ players before getting down to business was well-received by her star player.

“I love that stuff because you get to see people’s personality. It’s almost like it’s forced to come out, so they have no other choice.” said Beard, who missed all of last season with an Achilles’ tendon injury. “I think Trudi had a lot of good things to say. I think if we just buy into her system and understand that we’re in it together, we’re going to have a very special season.

“It helps to be on the court in a structured system because you get to see everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. As a leader, the one thing I focus on is what I need to do to help.”

Beard says Lacey’s system is very different from what the team has done in the past, one that allows the players to “think the game” and play to their strengths.

Lacey thinks they’re off to a good start.

“Everybody’s working hard trying to understand our concepts,” she said. “We just have to continue to build on it. We have a lot to put in. Day one, we put in a couple of offenses and our pick-and-roll defense, so we’re going to keep it moving.”

The determining factor for making the squad, Lacey said, will be the ability to retain information and apply it right away. The team has 17 players in camp; the final roster will have 11.

“I tried to make it fun for them and give them information about who we’re going to be as a team and how we’re going to play,” Lacey said

Although the Mystics finished first in the Eastern Conference last year with a 22-12 record, they were swept in the first round by the Atlanta Dream and are starting this year with their 12th coach in 14 seasons.

The team’s best year was 2002, when it reached the conference finals but lost to the New York Liberty.

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