Washington Mystics Coach Michael Adams made significant changes to his lineup for the first time this season Wednesday, and it paid off in the team's 65-63 victory over defending WNBA champion Detroit.
Adams was forced to alter his starting five when starting point guard Tamicha Jackson went down with a strained right hamstring. Because Jackson is questionable for tonight's game against Connecticut at MCI Center, Adams likely will go with the same lineup again.
"I liked the rotations," Adams said. "It helped with our rebounding. We won rebounding for the first time."
Jackson's injury necessitated one change, but the play of 6-foot-2 forward Aiysha Smith and 6-4 center Nakia Sanford prompted Adams to bench 5-9 Coco Miller and 6-3 Chasity Melvin, each of whom was in a slump. As a result, Washington (2-3) outrebounded the Shock 37-35.
Adams switched rookie Alana Beard from small forward to point guard, which opened up a spot for Smith. Beard, who is five inches taller than Jackson, had her best game of her short professional career: 15 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists and 4 steals.
In the third start of her career, Smith scored five points in 22 minutes. Sanford, making her first career start, ran into foul trouble and played only eight minutes. Adams also started Stacey Dales-Schuman for the first time this season.
Dales-Schuman, who had started 59 games during her two-year career with Washington, took Miller's place in the lineup. Dales-Schuman finished with eight points and three assists.
Miller and Dales-Schuman were last year's second- and third-leading scorers, respectively, for the Mystics. Melvin was a go-to player for the now-defunct Cleveland Rockers last season. The three of them, however, have had a slow start to their seasons.
Miller's scoring average has plummeted from 12.5 points per game last season to 3.2 this season. Her shooting also has dropped from 45 percent to 31 percent. Miller had the second-most three-point baskets on the team last season (32) but has yet to make one this year.
"She's not forcing anything, which is good," Adams said. "She needs to get comfortable."
Dales-Schuman was the team's leading three-point shooter last season with 57 three-pointers, but she has made only 6 of 21 attempts this year. She is scoring 7.4 points per game compared to 10 per game last year.
Melvin averaged 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds last year for Cleveland. Since joining the Mystics, she is averaging five points and 2.4 rebounds. Her shooting percentage is nine points lower than last year.
"I played in the same system for six years," Melvin said. "I'm used to being the focal point [of the offense]. It's just a matter of getting comfortable with this system and these players."