Shalonda Enis came to the Washington Mystics from the American Basketball League with a reputation as a scorer with style and touch. She had averaged 16.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game for the Seattle Reign and was the defunct league's rookie of the year in 1998. But so far this season, her numbers in the WNBA haven't approached those.
Enis calls this year "probably the most disappointing season I've ever had." The 6-foot-1 forward has started all 17 games for the Mystics (5-12) this season and is averaging 8.8 points and 5.1 rebounds. Although she is only one part of a Mystics team that has lost its last three games, she is one of the players the team is counting on today when Washington plays Cleveland (4-14) in a rare 11:45 a.m. game at MCI Center.
Enis had her best game of the season Saturday in a 63-56 loss at Charlotte: 18 points, 2 of 2 three-pointers and 6 rebounds. But she followed it up with her season's worst showing in a 25-point loss to Orlando on Monday night at MCI Center. She shot 0 for 8, missed her only three-point attempt, didn't get a rebound and didn't score in 21 minutes.
Except for the game against Charlotte, in her last four games Enis has shot 7 for 27 (25.9 percent), 0 for 3 on three-pointers and has had two games of five fouls and one of four. Her shooting average for the season -- .397 -- is worst among the Mystics' starters.
"When you can't put the shots down, yeah, it's disappointing," Enis said. "I'm just really disappointed in myself. But I've got to keep my head up about it and focus in on what this team needs."
Mystics Coach Nancy Darsch has complained all season about her team shooting too quickly, and both the player and coach agree that Enis has been guilty of forcing her play.
"She's frustrated, and we're all frustrated," Darsch said. "She has high expectations for herself and she gets frustrated when she's not getting the ball or trying too hard to stay within the offense. The thing that's hurt her the most is that she's so competitive and has been so successful that it's hard for her to feel like she's not contributing as much as she's capable of."
Against Charlotte, when Enis had her outside shooting working, she found an overall rhythm to the game. But in the last five games, her shot has been quick and unreliable.
"I think she has been rushing her shot, and I think that part of it is because she's anxious and knows what she can contribute," Darsch said. "She's looking for the shots that are within her repertoire, and that shot is. [In Charlotte] it was a more typical Shalonda. She was comfortable and relaxed. She touched the ball more. But we haven't been able to get the most out of her."
One of the reasons for that is foul trouble. Against Charlotte, Enis was whistled for her fifth foul in the first minute of the second half.
"She just seems to have the refs' eyes," Darsch said. "It's just really been unlucky. She's gotten some calls that easily could have been ignored or [put] her at the free throw line."
Enis has kept her sense of humor during her inconsistent play and the Mystics' three-game losing streak. On the bench in the final moments of Monday night's loss to the Miracle, she was joking with teammates between the sighs that followed glancing at the scoreboard.
"Sometimes you have good seasons and sometimes you don't," Enis said with a laugh and a shrug. "This seems like my year to have a bad one."
Mystics Notes: Today's game, which starts at 11:45 a.m., is sold out. The team sold more than 10,000 tickets to more than 200 area youth day camps. Washington has averaged 14,073 a game this season, a decline of almost 2,000 over last year's average of 15,910.
Data: vs. Cleveland Rockers.
Where: MCI Center.
When: 11:45 a.m.
Tickets: Sold out.
Records: Rockers 4-14, Mystics 5-12.
Injuries: F Penny Moore (shoulder) is on the injured list. Rockers G Suzie McConnell Serio (broken left foot) is out.