- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2011

Mystics coach Trudi Lacey watched the seconds tick down in San Antonio on Saturday night - on another loss, and on the season. Washington’s 6-28 record was the second worst in team history, next to the 3-27 mark in the inaugural season of 1998.

“I think that it just summed up this season for us,” Lacey said. “The effort was there, the execution was not, and that’s what I told our team.”

But in a season with such a dismal record, Lacey was forced to look beyond the win-loss column and think about the lessons she learned, and how those lessons will help her improve this team next year.

“As Maya Angelou said, resilience is the best skill to have. I always knew I was resilient, but now I sort of own resiliency,” Lacey said. “For me, personally, I learned a couple of lessons this year. One, there’s a silver lining in everything, if you look for it. My college coach always told me ‘You see what you look for,’ so I’m going to find some positives from this season and build on them.”

Lacey cited the late-season return of Monique Currie, the growth of Jasmine Thomas and the consistency of Crystal Langhorne.

“Mo was certainly impressive, with her determination to come back from yet another injury,” Lacey said. “We missed her competitiveness and her experience and her leadership. It was nice to have her back even for four games so the players could have a feel for who she is on the court. She earned a lot of respect for they way she handled herself this season.”

Currie was expected to miss the entire season after recovering from ACL surgery, but her return gave the team a boost in morale, and gave a glimpse into next year with her on the court.

“We are all disappointed by the way the season turned out,” Currie said. “We know that there are things we can all work on individually and bring back to the team next year. Hopefully everybody will get better during the offseason and be ready come the next season.”

Thomas, a rookie point guard, earned increased minutes as the season wore on and made tremendous strides learning how to be a leader.

Jasmine’s growth during the course of the season was also a bright spot,” Lacey said. “She’s very competitive, very coachable, and had a huge upside.”

Thomas, who plans to play overseas during the offseason, thinks that experience will make a big difference.

“I feel we definitely grew together as a team as our chemistry was a little bit better,” she said. “I think we all know there are a lot of things we have to improve on for next year.”

Another challenge Lacey hopes not to face next year is a short bench.

“I’m not making excuses, but we played almost the whole season with nine players. We couldn’t even go five-on-five in practice,” Lacey said. “You try your best to simulate game situations, but it did affect our preparation.”

But as thoughts turn to next season, Lacey, also the team’s general manager, believes it’s best to avoid knee-jerk reactions in making personnel decisions for next year’s squad.

Only Thomas, Marissa Coleman and Victoria Dunlap are under contract; everyone else is a free agent or a restricted free agent.

“To the outside world, we may look far off, but when you really look at it closely, and the experience that we gained and the close games that we lost, we’re not that far away,” Lacey said. “A lot of things need to change for us to have a different result in 2012, but the character of this team is that they played with heart and determination. For that, I’m proud of them.”

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