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Mystics Will Be Tested From the Opening Tip

By Kathy Orton
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, January 7, 2005; Page D10

The Washington Mystics announced their 2005 schedule yesterday, and the schedule-makers are not allowing Washington to ease into the season. Seven of the Mystics' first nine games are against teams that made the playoffs last season.

Washington, which went 17-17 last season and advanced to the postseason for the third time in franchise history, will open at Charlotte on May 21, then return to MCI Center for its home opener May 22 against the Eastern Conference champion Connecticut Sun. Connecticut defeated the Mystics, two games to one, in the conference semifinals last season.

Alana Beard and the Mystics play seven of their first nine games against teams that made the playoffs last season. (AP File Photo)

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Washington will play four games against playoff teams -- home against Los Angeles, New York and Minnesota and at New York -- in its next four games. The Mystics will travel to San Antonio, which finished a league-worst 9-25 last season, on June 7 before returning home to face the reigning WNBA champion Seattle Storm on June 10.

Washington will play only three home games in July, making a western swing with games at Seattle, Phoenix, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Houston during an eight-day span. The Mystics will play five of their last seven regular season games on the road.

"We are eager to kick off the 2005 season," said Judy Holland Burton, the Mystics' senior vice president of business and basketball operations. "There is tremendous talent around the league, and we are ready to compete with the best of the best."

After a one-year hiatus for the Olympics, the WNBA All-Star Game will return July 9 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Mystics Notes: Forward Chamique Holdsclaw, who missed 11 games last season because of depression, has returned to playing basketball. Holdsclaw is averaging 19.2 points and 11 rebounds for Ros Casares, a Spanish team. She is one of seven Mystics playing overseas this winter.

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