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Exit Interviews, Miller Extended

As has already been pointed out in the comments, the Mystics signed long-time guard Coco Miller to a two year extension yesterday. Miller was already gone when I got to Verizon Center today, but she was the only player who became a free agent when the season ended.

For some shameless promotion, there is a story running in tomorrow's paper that takes a look at Linda Hargrove's tenure as general manager and I hope you will all find it interesting, but back to today. Exit interviews were moving along quite quickly as most players were getting ready to head home for a week or two before departing for their teams overseas. (The latest seasons start up in early October, so they don't get much time off if any.) And although Jessie Kenlaw's future with the team is uncertain she is a central part of this season-ending process and is in every player's interview.

With four interviews remaining, "Most of them have been very positive, and very apologetic from a standpoint of us not winning," Kenlaw said this afternoon. "All of them have said that they appreciated me demanding more of them. That they appreciate me holding them accountable for the little things and laying the foundation of a consistent work ethic. Some of them can't explain why we would kind of fold when teams come at us, why we didn't have that knockout punch that we needed -- but the feedback that we're getting, a lot of them think it's that lack of veteran leadership."

That the Mystics finished the season as the second youngest team in the league, "It shows at times on the court," Kenlaw said. "They're still learning how to play through certain situations, how to understand when you get a lead, or understand that you have to withstand that run and not fall back on your heels."

Which lead to the natural question of how much did the team miss Taj McWilliams-Franklin's leadership. "That's what Taj brought to this team she was a great leader," Kenlaw said. "But it was also an opportunity for someone else to step up and I don't think we ever quite accomplished that."

"The way I see it," Kenlaw said, "We're young but we do have some experienced players and we do have some talent. That's all I see and I just try to get the most out of what I see on the court.

"The thing that I learned though is you can't force someone to do something that they're not comfortable doing and granted we have some players on this team that might have leadership qualities, but if it takes them out of their comfort zone I can't expect them to step up and lead," Kenlaw said. "That was a lesson for me as well. I just looked at a couple players and I thought they'd naturally be leaders for us and they just weren't."

I'll have some more from Kenlaw, including how she sees her future as a coach a bit later today. I'm heading off to Washington Post Live here shortly and live television waits for nothing. There will also be more analysis and things tomorrow that my research turned up while I was working on the Hargrove story, but may not have made it in the hard-copy edition.

By Katie Carrera  |  September 15, 2008; 3:28 PM ET
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Next: Hargrove Extras


"That was a lesson for me as well. I just looked at a couple players and I thought they'd naturally be leaders for us and they just weren't."

Gee, I wonder who she means? And I hope this season has taught the Mystics that trying to build a team around Beard, who does not want to lead, will not work. She had a chance to really step up, and she did not do so. She has talent, she may thrive elsewhere. That's fine. Let's get something valuable for her now.

Posted by: Original Fan | September 15, 2008 8:09 PM | Report abuse

As much as I love Alana (and I am 'in the tank' for this young lady), the best thing to do, for her and for us, would be to trade her 'NOW'. Don't wait until she gets all Holdsclaw on us (and gets too 'depressed' to play for us, but not for L.A.). She deserves the opportunity to play for a real franchise; her play for us has earned her that right. The 'Stics need picks (as in draft picks), and Alana can garner them at least a couple.
As for re-signing Coco Miller, when will we learn.

Posted by: Guisher | September 16, 2008 6:59 AM | Report abuse

"As for re-signing Coco Miller, when will we learn."

This does NOT mean Coco will play here next summer. She was about to become a free agent, meaning she could simply walk away from the team and the Mystics would get nothing, nada, zero, zilch. This way, they retain her rights and can trade her. This way, maybe they get something for her. The Mystics have made many truly questionable personnel decisions and deserve to be criticized for them. This was not one of them.

Posted by: Original Fan | September 16, 2008 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Seems obvious that Kenlaw is referring to AB with the leadership comment. I'd say the future in DC for Alana is not looking good. Too bad for the Mystics because she will likely find success elsewhere. But it clearly isn't working for her here.

Interesting article on Hargrove, although I don't quite see where she's taking responsibility for the team's lack of success during her tenure. The comments from past coaches is another endorsement for a combo coach/GM. It would also be nice for Hargrove to explain why she sent Shay Murphy in her stead to the chalk talk with frustrated STHs. Gee...think she knew what was coming?

Posted by: Kande | September 16, 2008 7:43 AM | Report abuse

I believe the theme of the article is that Linda is the target of the blame, not that she is willing to receive it.

Katie, did you ask why Delisha M-J refused to play here any more? Why Nikki T left? Why they didn't offer the coaching job to Meadors, a successful and experienced head coach? Why Stacey Dales wasn't asked about coming out of retirement before being left unprotected in the expansion draft?

Oh, and why Linda thinks it necessary to sit behind the bench looking over the coaches' shoulders?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Actually Kande, the Mystics front office says it was their fault -- not Linda's -- that Shay was a last minute "replacement". They knew Linda was scheduled to present an on-court award pre-game. They could have cancelled the chalk talk or, at the very least, explained to the fans who showed up exactly what happened. I wasn't there, but it sounds like no one told the fans anything -- making it seem like Linda just couldn't be bothered. People may criticize Linda for a lot of things, but being fan-unfriendly is NOT one of them.

Posted by: Eileen | September 16, 2008 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Katie, a small error in your article today about Linda Hargrove. Holdsclaw was not the Mystics' first draft pick. Murriel Page was, back in 1998. That's in part how she got the nickname "Original Mystic." (Also, I think you are being unkind to Nikki McCray to say that Meek was the team's first legitimate star.)

Anonymous above has posed some good questions. Another is further scrutiny of the Temeka Johnson trade, which you don't cover much in your article. Here she was, a much-needed PG AND ROOKIE OF THE YEAR to boot, but we trade her for an aging PG with bad knees and a known propensity for, shall we say, less than the best work ethic. Word at the time about trading away TJ was locker room "difficulties." These players are professionals, and if they can't get along, management needs to read them the riot act.

As for Linda's draft picks, I'm not so much bothered by third round picks who are no longer in the league, those are crap shoots at best. I am far more bothered that our first round pick in 2006 is no longer in the league (!!) and that our first round pick in 2007 still hasn't amounted to much at all.

Posted by: Original Fan | September 16, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Eileen, if the Mystics' post-hoc explanation of the chalk talk fiasco is true, it's a pretty poor reflection on the competence of Bibb's operation. The talk was long-scheduled and heavily promoted. The Trinity photo presentation could not have been Linda's doing all alone -- somebody had to print the photo, get it signed and framed, and write copy for the PA announcer, among other things. Why did no one tell Linda she had a schedule conflict?

The talk was scheduled for 3:15. The presentation did not happen until after 3:30. Why didn't Bibb or someone else step in to do the Trinity thing?

The staff is in constant communication on game day. Someone should have come up with a better resolution than to throw Shay to the dogs.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Anonymous...all good questions! I totally agree. It could have, and should have, been handled better -- for the sake of the fans, and for Linda's sake as well. Somebody in the front office needs be charged with a turnover! LOL

Posted by: Eileen | September 16, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Linda Hargrove need to GO!!. She is not a manager nor does she have a proven record, if she is not the one sending players to other teams (Stacy, Teasley, Johnson, Page, etc) then she should stand up to management. We need a coach, manager, better players or we will lose the team forever. Linda reminds me of Mark Cuban too hands on and a do nothing owner, wannabe coach, etc. I have been a season ticket holder for 11 years, just renewed, but believe me this in my last season unless something MAJOR happens!!!Thanks.

Posted by: CAW | September 16, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I hear the Michael Adams could be interested in returning as head coach of the Mystics. Can someone let him know that the job is available.

Posted by: Babs | September 16, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Oh my God, Babs, I sure hope you're right (about Mike Adams), and I hope this time, they name an assistant GM, and make him the head coach and GM (like they should have in the first damned place).

Posted by: Guisher | September 16, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

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