Michael Adams resigned yesterday as coach of the Washington Mystics to become an assistant to University of Maryland men's basketball coach Gary Williams.
Adams and former UNC Charlotte assistant Rob Moxley are the newest members of Williams's staff, replacing two assistant coaches who resigned recently to become head coaches elsewhere.
Michael Adams, who compiled a 17-17 record with the Mystics, will try helping Gary Williams improve upon a disappointing season in College Park.
(Post File Photo)
This marks the second upheaval for the Mystics in less than a month -- all-star forward Chamique Holdsclaw was traded to the Los Angeles Sparks on March 21 -- and the eighth coach in their seven-year history as they go into today's WNBA draft. Washington opens training camp on April 24 and the regular season on May 21.
Washington General Manager Linda Hargrove said the Mystics will try to have a new coach in place soon. "We're hoping to have a coach in place before training camp starts," Hargrove said. "Pat Summitt and I have put together a list. We're pursuing a group of candidates. . . . Our goal is to make this as painless as possible for the players." Summit is the Mystics' player personnel consultant.
Hargrove said she might add coaching duties to her role as general manager. "That's something we're considering," she said. "We're talking about different options." She added: "It's not something I'm thinking about right now."
Today's WNBA draft, which begins at noon, will be covered live on ESPN2. The Mystics have the sixth pick. Hargrove said they will focus primarily on drafting guards. Yesterday they traded the 13th pick to the Detroit Shock for Iciss Tillis, a former Duke teammate of Washington Mystics guard Alana Beard.
"The thing that we really like about Iciss is that she's 6-5 and can play on the perimeter," Hargrove said.
Last year, the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft was obvious, and no one was surprised when Phoenix chose Connecticut's sensational guard, Diana Taurasi, first.
This time around the top selection is not as clear. The Charlotte Sting, which picks first, has most observers guessing who it will take.
"I don't think there's a player who has completely separated themselves like Taurasi," Charlotte Coach-General Manger Trudi Lacey said. "This has been a little more difficult decision in determining who is the best player in the country."
When Duke standout Monique Currie, a graduate of the Bullis School, decided last week to remain in school another year, the draft became even weaker. It seems unlikely that teams will find a player who will make an immediate impact. Most appear to be seeking players who will bolster their depth.
"I don't think a lot of teams are drafting starters," said San Antonio Coach Dan Hughes, who has the fourth pick. "I think they are drafting players who will play in their eight-, nine-, 10-player rotation. They're may be some starters [drafted] on teams like mine that are refocusing, but they'll be a lot of rotation players coming out of this draft."
The players being considered among the top choices include: Tan White, a 5-foot-7 guard from Mississippi; Janel McCarville, a 6-2 center from Minnesota; Sandora Irvin, a 6-3 power forward from Texas Christian; and Kendra Wecker, a 5-11 small forward from Kansas State.
Several WNBA coaches noted that LSU point guard Temeka Johnson improved her draft status with her performance in the NCAA tournament, as did Liberty center Katie Feenstra and Michigan State point guard Kristin Haynie. Two players who each gave birth three months ago -- Georgia center Kara Braxton and Louisiana Tech guard Erica Taylor -- have worked to improve their stock after long layoffs. Braxton was one of the top performers at the WNBA pre-draft camp. George Washington forward Anna Montañana is the only local college player expected to be drafted this year.
Given the lack of talent in this year's draft, it is likely that teams are more apt to take the best player available rather than trying to fulfill a certain need.
"If somebody is a superior athlete or talented player then sometimes you have to overlook the need," said Indiana Fever Coach Brian Winters, who has the second pick. "You might just say, 'I can't pass her up because she's just too good a player even though I maybe need a small forward and somebody is a big player.' "
Hargrove said the Mystics expect to sign at least one more free agent before training camp opens.
At Maryland, Adams and Moxley replace Dave Dickerson, who became Tulane's coach on April 1, and Mike Lonergan, who became Vermont's head coach on Feb. 26.
Adams played 11 years in the NBA for four teams -- Sacramento, Washington, Denver and Charlotte -- and was selected for the 1992 All-Star Game when he was with Washington. Before his NBA career, he was a point guard at Boston College for Williams.
Adams began his coaching career in 1999 with the Richmond Rhythm of the International Basketball League. He spent the 2000-01 and '01-02 seasons as an assistant to Sidney Lowe with the Grizzlies in Vancouver and later Memphis. He had been out of coaching for two years before taking over in Washington, where his record was 17-17.