Monday, May 21 at 11 a.m. ET

Washington Mystics

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Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 21, 2007; 11:00 AM

On Monday, May 21, at 11 a.m. ET, Washington Post staff writer Marc Carig took your questions and comments about the Washington Mystics as the WNBA season gets underway.

A transcript follows.

From The Post:

Complete Coverage

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Marc Carig: Good morning everyone. So it's summer, which around here means humidity, bad baseball and time for the WNBA. This is my rookie season covering the league, so I'm excited to get the chance to learn it better as I go along.

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Marc, what bet did you lose?: WNBA duty? Truly a sports beat writer's Nirvana...

Marc Carig: haha, kilgore and i played one on one for it, and as it turns out, that dude plays dirty. jk... Some reporters might not be thrilled with it (actually, when WNBA president Donna Oreander dropped by the Post last week, we talked about it a bit). I'm actually excited about it, especially because the team should be interesting this season.

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Washington, D.C.: Any word on Alana's status for tomorrow?

Marc Carig: I think it's the same "day-to-day." The team is trying to be conservative with the injury, which is the smart move.

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Washington, D.C.: Why didn't Gillian Goring play?

Marc Carig: I wouldn't expect Gillian to play many minutes this season. The team regards her as a "project," hoping that she refines her game enough to play regularly, as she is 6-7 and would help thye Mystics compete with the rest of the size around the league. But also remember, she's a third-round pick who didn't make her first start in college until this year! There's a relative inexperiene factor to consider as well.

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Bowie, Md.: Charlotte Sting folded last year due to lack of interest. Draft came and went with little to no fanfare. Will you in your rookie season be reporting the WNBA's demise? If not for the NBA supporting the WNBA (ie. WNBA players getting exposure during the NBA All-Star weekend), would it really exist anymore?

Marc Carig: As a reporter, when you cover this league, its relative state of being is going to be something that's going to be a high priority. The all-star game is DC this year, so you may be seeing stories that look into that issue near that time.

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Washington D.C.: What's the most surprising thing about the WNBA so far in your first year covering it?

Marc Carig: Nothing too surprising yet, except for Alana Beard's little dog being permitted to run around the court during practice. I'd say to check back in a month from now!

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Silver Spring, Md.: Can we expect to see any coverage of away games that goes beyond the AP wire report?

It would be nice if you could talk to Richie and one of the players after away games -- even if you can't travel with the team -- to give us some information that we won't get otherwise. I hope we see more coverage overall this year -- the team and the fans want it and deserve it! Thanks.

Marc Carig: If the team shows that it is a real contender for a playoff run, I understand that there is money in the budget to hit the road with them regularly during the second half of the season. As for the first half, the AP write ups might have to do, though I'll try to make up for that with off-day stories looking at other issues that may be important to the team. As always, I love it when readers email with suggestions/concerns. But I love it most when they email me with ideas for stories! carigm@washpost.com is the adress, by the way.

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Washington, D.C.: In your opinion, how good is Delisha Milton-Jones? She is one of the best in the world but does not get the recognition she deserves.

Marc Carig: I think DeLisha is a very good player in this league for reasons outside of what she does on the court. It seems to me that she's great for team chemistry, one of those players that every locker room needs. SHe's also a strong veteran presence. As for her game, I think that she might be ready to have the kind of season that would perhaps get her more recognition. Last year, she finished with career-highs in scoring (14.6) and 3-point percentage (43).

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Calverton, Md.: Marc, do you think the Mystics will ever get to the WNBA Finals with the personnel they have now?

Marc Carig: I think they're a playoff team with what they have, but I think quality of depth is something they need to improve.

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Macon, Ga.: If Goring isn't ready for prime time, the Mystics post depth is just Nakia Sanford and prayer. How will they be able to handle big, physical teams like Detroit?

Marc Carig: That's a great question that lots of teams in the league are going to have to find an answer for, too. I think in Washington's case, Chasity Melvin and Nakia Sanford are coming off good seasons and seem to be on an ascending path as far as their productivity goes. But to contend with bigger, physical teams, I think it becomes important for teams to do little things: most specifically, the guards need to work hard to make themselves rebounders.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Is Neville Waters gone from the front office (he's gone from the Web site). If so, did his departure have anything to do with his atrocious performance in Date Lab?

Marc Carig: eek, I suppose I should find out!

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Lafayette, Ind.: Historically, Washington has had the best attendance in the league, even when they haven't had success on the court. What do Sheila Johnson and the Mystics need to do to get the seats filled once again?

Marc Carig: To quote my favroite lunatic: "Just win, baby."

The nice thing if you're the Mystics is that the summer is a pretty dead time sports wise around here, meaning that the only competition is that dreadful ballclub that plays in that giant ashtray. Another thing to consider too is that if you're a DC area sports fan -- taking into account the Redskins, Caps and Wizards (post injuries) -- there hasn't been much to cheer for. So, naturally, if you want to put buts in the seats, give the people something to cheer for.

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Washington, D.C.: Is there going to be more television coverage of Mystics games this year?

Marc Carig: There is no local TV contract this year.

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Lafayette, Ind.: How will the Mystics compete against the top of the East this year? Can they challenge the Shock, Sun or Fever?

Marc Carig: The Mystiques can make things interesting if they can avoid having starters miss a prolonged amount of time to injury, because I don't think the depth is good enough to survive somebody like Alana Beard or Nikki Teasley missing 10 games or something. Also, continuity is such a big part of building a winning organization, and I think that will help them against some of the conference's top teams.

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Macon, Ga.: The Mystics are starting their third season since the Chamique Holdsclaw trade. The numbers suggest that the Sparks got the better end of the deal. Do you think the Washington front office has any regrets about doing the deal?

Marc Carig: That was a trade that really needed to happen for both sides, so I don't think there are any regrets. And really, I still think it was a solid deal. Again, Milton-Jones was setting career highs last season while I hear that Holdsclaw showed signs of diminishing skills.

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Washington, D.C.: Marc,

I was wondering if you could shed some light on the Coco Miller phenomenon; she is now, and has been for about the past two years (ever since she won "Most Improved Player" a few years ago), a liability. the Mystics are cutting good, young options (see: Megan Vogel this year, and Tamicia Jackson a couple of years ago), just to keep her on the roster; I'm certain it would have been cheaper to keep Megan Vogel (a universally respected dead-eye three-point shooter, with good size for a G/F and athleticism), than to keep Miller; I'm certain the fans will get over it if she was cut (my son and I have been fans for about eight years now -- believe me we're so over Coco Miller); Holdsclaw was the biggest draw in women sports in D.C. -- she's gone, and the Mystics are still going. Isn't it time to cut the dead weight?

Marc Carig: haha, thanks for the question. didn't you send me an email about this last week? Sheesh, I don't think she's a liability. In fact, the team could probably use another all-around player like her to come off the bench. THough I disagree with you, I respect your point. But really, this team has more pressing issues than Coco Miller (like playing defense, for instance).

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Silver Spring, Md.: I got the impression that some of the better teams, e.g., Detroit, Connecticut, had their stars back in camp earlier than the Mystics. Who controls the overseas commitments, the team, or the player?

Marc Carig: the players determine committments. this is another huge issue surrounding the league. the international club teams pay much more money in salary and they have playoffs when wnba camps start, so i think players are more inclined to stay and finish. i think it's an issue with all the teams. check out seattle for instance, who i believe didn't get any of their big three back until just before the season's start.

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D.C.: Many talk about Kwame being the biggest bust in DC, but I think the honors go to Chamique Holdsclaw. She came in with three national championships at Tennessee and was called the female MJ. After the huge flop here, never mind disappearing her final season based on an unknown illness (or pregnancy) that she didn't want the public to know about, no one has heard from her since.

Marc Carig: The illness was actually depression. We have a link here. As far as a bust, Holdsclaw is a a good choice and you make a very nice argument. However, I think Kwame Brown is still the undisputed champion as far as DC busts.

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Washington, D.C.: Why not play Laurie Koehn when we needed quick points near the end?

Marc Carig: Everybody knows she can shoot. But can she create her own shots to keep a defense honest? Can she be physical enough to fight through aggressive defenders? Until she can prove that, she'll sit more than she'll shoot, even though she's probably the best pure shooter in town.

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Clinton, Md.: Marc, what is your opinion on the Mystics small forward situation? Can the Mystics fans expect the same lack of production as last season?

Marc Carig: Crystal Robinson is at that spot, and you're going to get what you're going to get with her, which is solid veteran play that won't cost you games with silly mistakes. that said, this is an area of concern as far as depth for now and in the future. they hope bernice mosby can develop into a three, but that transition didn't go so well in camp.

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Lafayette, Ind.: The Mystics should be assured a play-off spot in the East with Chicago and New York sure to struggle. But they could be hurt if Alana Beard is out too long. When is she expected back and how will the team fare without her?

Marc Carig: Beard is week-to-week. But if that becomes four weeks or something, this team may still make the playoffs by virtue of a top-heavy conferenc, but they won't be staying long.

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Baltimore: Why do so many guys (except for myself of course) feel the need to disrespect the WNBA and its players? It's like we feel woman shouldn't be able to play sports, or anything else that considered a man's job. I think it's stupid, and that other guys who act that way are not a good representation of a real/secure man (like myself). I've been a WNBA fan since 1997, the players continue to get better (as they should) and I support them 100 percent.

Marc Carig: Yeah, kind of hard to believe that kind of mentality still exists. I hear guys rip the women's game all the time. But it's important to realize that the two games are so different, and each should be evaluated on their own merit.

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Phoenix: Question for your next Q&A with the Mystics.

Why doesn't Richie open up the offense more? He has a team full of athletes in Teasley, Beard, Milton, etc., yet runs so many set plays in half court sets. Why not adopt more of a running, transition-oriented offense to take advantage of the team speed? This would also allow someone like Laurie Koehn to be a trailer on a secondary break to get open three-point shots.

Marc Carig: Something I'll look for as we proceed here! Thanks Phoenix.

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Claverack, N.Y.: Which Mystics games are you most looking forward to this year?

Marc Carig: Two of the last three regular seasons games are against Connecticut (Aug. 14 and 19), games that might be determining playoff seeding. That's good stuff.

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Vacaville, Calif.: Why don't you think the WNBA gets enough credit? I mean, to think how much the players put into it, why don't they get more coverage. I for one, love it and would set my TiVo to record every game. I think Stern should offer a separate package like the tickets. Your thoughts?

Marc Carig: Jeeze, Danny, didn't I tell you to stop crashing my chats?

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Alexandria, Va.: What do you see as the key match-ups in the tomorrow night's game vs. the Monarchs?

Marc Carig: I don't know of the personnel is as important as the general theme of the Mystics executing its offense against a disciplined group of players that make up on the league's best defensive teams.

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Marc Carig: OK, thanks for all the questions. As always, it's appreciated. See you next time.

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