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  • The Mystics were eliminated from the playoffs Aug. 15 with a loss to Orlando.
  • Nikki McCray and Chamique Holdsclaw were selected to the 1999-2000 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team.

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  • Transcripts from previous Sports Online discussions.
  • Mystics Section
  • WNBA Section
  •   McCray: Offensive Success Requires a Center

     The team that will be in Sydney includes Nikki McCray, right, and three other members of the 1996 gold medal winning U.S. Olympic team. (AP File Photo)
    Guard Nikki McCray said that the Mystics need to acquire a dominating post player and a system that plays to the team's strengths in the offseason.

    After the WNBA season, McCray will embark on a seven-month preparation tour this fall and winter with the U.S. women's national basketball team that will represent the United States at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. McCray and teammate Chamique Holdsclaw were recently selected to the 12-player squad.

    The transcript of the discussion follows.


    New Carrollton, Md.: How does the WNBA plan to accommodate preparation camps of different national teams before the olympics next year?

    Nikki McCray: I don't think it will impact the WNBA. We'll still train and compete with our season. The Olympics won't affect the schedule much.


    Laurel, Md.: What was the mind set of the team the day of the Orlando game? What will be done or said different today?

    Nikki McCray: The mind set was to win and go out and compete. Obviously, we didn't do either one of those things. We want go out and finish out the season strong. Basically, we just didn't come to play defense and they did whatever they wanted.


    Bethesda, Md.: Nikki,
    Do you think Pat Summitt would ever coach in the WNBA? Personally, I think she would be excellent for the Mystics because she would have you and Chamique already in place in terms of leadership.

    Nikki McCray: I don't know. I think that's up to Pat Summitt. I think she's in a great position right now. I think Tennessee will win it all again.


    Silver Spring, Md.: What is the secret of the recent turn-around -franchise six straight wins, back to back?

    How do you relate with Chamique? How do you relax off the court?

    Nikki McCray: I think we got to a point to where we could focus on our defense and we stepped up our offense. I don't think we ran our triangle offense much and we went to the secondary options where our guards got more shots.

    I think Chamique and I work well together. I'm more of a penetrator and she's more of a rebounder and post player, so I think we work well together. She's obviously a great offensive rebounder.


    Annapolis, Md: What do you hope the Mystics will do in the offseason to prepare for a playoff berth for next season? Also what do you think you need to do to elevate your team to the next level?

    Nikki McCray: I think there has to be changes within our system. I think the triangle is a great system but it has to allow for more of our perimeter players to shoot. I think we have to continue work on that in the offseason. We also need to bring in a big post player.


    Germantown, Md.: Do you feel that this season has been a success following last season?

    Nikki McCray: I think we made a strong push in the end and I think that was real good for our fans. Last year was 3-27 and this year was double digits in wins. I hadn't thought about next season yet. We just have to wait to see what happens next season.


    Washington, D.C.: My daughter and I were noticed team chemistry developed during your long west coast trip. What will the team members do off-season to help the team and the chemistry growing?

    Nikki McCray: I think we have a great group of players and team chemistry is key to team success. I think developing team chemistry is key especially with the season being so short and training camp being short.


    Conn.: My question is: are you going to sing in the near future and do commercials? Are you going to make more sneakers?

    Nikki McCray: I hope so. It's something I've done in the past and if the opportunities come up...


    Upper Marlboro, Md.: Do you think that if the team can get a true center and move Muriel Page to power forward that this will help take away the double teaming off of you.

    Nikki McCray: I think it will help but with our triangle system we have to have a post player that can go with their back to the basket. The post players that we have worked well in our system. We're still working on the triangle and we really trying to work on our defense to counter what the other team is doing.


    Woodbridge Va.: When you aren't playing for the Mystics or in the Olympics, what are your other interests?

    Nikki McCray: Obviously, just relaxing but I really haven't had a chance to relax. But this year is going to be basketball year round. I think it's going to be great to compete in the Olympics and do that again.


    Washington, D.C.: When the team was in its six-game winning streak, what do you think was working so well?

    Nikki McCray: Just the fact that we were pushing the ball for the most part and I think we do that well with the players that we have. We did things that were outside the triangle that helped us. We were able to penetrate more often on offense.


    Rockville, Md.: I just wanted to ask your opinion of the future of the WNBA. How long do you think it will take for it to become self-funding, and how does the talent pool look for the next few years? Do you see grade school girls becoming more interested in court time and field time, with the success of the WNBA and the women's soccer team?

    Nikki McCray: I think we're on our way. I think there has to be a consistency with fans and some teams are doing well and some aren't.

    I think with four new teams [next season], that's going to hurt some of the existing teams. Existing teams can only protect so many players. I think with four teams next year, that's increased jobs but a lot of the teams will lose a lot of good players. Hopefully it will all work out.


    Washington, D.C.: First congratulations on what you and the team have accomplished so far, we are proud of you. I have two questions, first do you have your own foundation and what does it do and what is the pre game ritual that includes the team chanting something and jumping around.

    Nikki McCray: That's just something we do before the game -- we just try to get pumped. It's something that Murriel Page started and we've been doing it ever since.


    Washington, D.C.: Which position do you think the Mystics need to improve upon the most for next season?

    Nikki McCray: At center. Somebody who can post up in the triangle offense.


    Capitol Heights, Md.: Hey Nikki, I love you and the Mystics although Val Still is my favorite -smile-. I understand the team selected for the Olympic will start practice in Sept. That doesn't give you much chance to rest -- is basketball sometimes overwhelming?

    Nikki McCray: Our last game is Saturday and I have vacation on Sunday. All the Olympics stuff begins on Sept. 7. We'll start training and we'll do a college tour and basically do what we did in 1996.


    Washington, D.C.: I am a big Mystics fan and I especially enjoyed the last two weeks of basketball you ladies have presented to the fans. I would like to know how you and the rest of the team have been affected by the loss to Orlando. Also, what type of players do you think the Mystic will need to get next season to complement the present squad in order to become a power house in the WNBA?
    Thanks for the playoff run excitement.

    Nikki McCray: I think we need to figure out what our team strengths are and find a system that plays to our strengths. If we're going to stick with the triangle we really need a big center that can dominate down low.


    Washingtonpost.com: We're going to let Nikki go and prepare for tonight's game with the Liberty. We want to thank Nikki for taking the time to be with us.


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