By Katie Carrera
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 15, 2010; D07
Less than two weeks before training camp opens, the Washington Mystics announced that all-star guard Alana Beard is expected to miss the 2010 WNBA season after undergoing arthroscopic tendon repair surgery on her left ankle next week.
This is the latest hurdle in an injury-riddled professional career for Beard, who led Washington with 15.9 points per game in 2009 and has been the face of the franchise since she was drafted in 2004.
"Our doctors have been evaluating her and their recommendation was to take care of any remaining problems," Washington General Manager Angela Taylor said Wednesday. "At the end of last season, she had a few incidents with that ankle and was hobbled throughout the playoffs. This is probably a result of the damage that may have occurred at that point."
Beard did not play in Europe during the offseason, as she usually does.
Last season, recurring ankle sprains slowed the typically fluid Beard in the playoffs, limiting her to 19 points in two games, but she had grown accustomed to adapting to pain. She started the 2008 season with a nagging hamstring injury. In 2007, a shoulder strain limited her range of motion until she underwent surgery and a six-month rehabilitation.
Beard's absence will undoubtedly alter Washington's perimeter look and the Mystics, who finished fourth lowest in the league last season in scoring, will need to make up for her scoring ability.
But Taylor maintains that despite the loss of Beard, the Mystics -- with the addition of Katie Smith to last year's guards and wing players -- have plenty of depth to adjust. The injury also puts another spot on the Mystics' 11-player roster up for grabs when training camp opens on April 25.
"For us we're lucky in that it happened before training camp and early enough for us to prepare mentally and physically," Taylor said. "It gives a lot of people an opportunity to step up. With Alana we had the best perimeter in the league. But now there will need to be a lot of players willing to step up and play a greater role than they have in the past. Our goal is still that Eastern Conference championship and making it to the WNBA finals. We'll just have to refocus."