Four days since Chamique Holdsclaw pulled out of a road trip to Charlotte to deal with a private medical problem, the Washington Mystics still seem generally clueless as to her whereabouts. Coach Michael Adams said yesterday that he hasn't talked to Holdsclaw. Teammates said they know nothing except that she is dealing with a "personal issue."
And on the verge of a crucial, three-game homestand that starts at 7 tonight at MCI Center against defending champion Detroit, one uncertainty towers above all: No one seems to know when Holdsclaw will return.
"Right now, I have no clue," Adams said. "I have not talked to her and I really don't know anything. I wish I did, trust me."
Judy Holland-Burton, the Mystics' head of basketball operations, described Holdsclaw's status as "day-to-day" in a statement on the team's Web site.
"Chamique notified me she had a minor medical issue that she needed time to address," Holland-Burton said in the statement. "We agreed that she would take the necessary time to focus on her concerns."
Holdsclaw, who leads the team in scoring (19.3 points per game) and rebounding (8.5), missed practice for the second day in a row yesterday to deal with a non-threatening medical problem. But the Mystics remain confident she will return quickly -- maybe even as soon as tonight.
The Mystics' offense revolves around the all-star forward, who is 52 points from becoming the fastest player in WNBA history to reach 3,000. Washington scored just 41 points without Holdsclaw on Saturday at Charlotte, the team's lowest total since 2001.
"Chamique is very valuable to this team," guard Alana Beard said. "This is a franchise built around her, obviously."
"She's Jordanesque," Adams said. "But hopefully, we have enough players to get it done without her."
These days, though, Adams barely has enough players to run practice. Stacey Dales-Schuman is out with a sore heel and likely will not play tonight. Guard Tamicha Jackson will not play because of a strained knee.
Desperate for extra bodies, the Mystics signed guard Shauzinski Gortman to a seven-day contract, giving Washington nine healthy players. Gortman averaged 2.8 points during two seasons with the Minnesota Lynx before the team waived her in May.
"She'll contribute right away," Adams said. "We need nine players to score, nine players to rebound and nine players to play defense."
They need 10 to scrimmage, too, so Adams has played with the team during practice this week. Yesterday, he hit back-to-back long-range jumpers before stopping the scrimmage to give Beard a few pointers about defense.
"We're short-handed, so I'm just doing some hands-on teaching," Adams said. "I can show my players what I want them to do."
"We've had two days of really good practice," forward Chasity Melvin said. "We're missing key people, so we need everybody to come to play. And obviously we need a little bit of luck, too."
* COMETS 80, STORM 55: In Houston, Tina Thompson scored 22 points and Sheryl Swoopes added 10 to help the Comets end a two-game losing streak.