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Washington Mystics General Manager Angela Taylor chats about this season and next season

Only a small part of my interview with Mystics General Manager Angela Taylor made it into my story wrapping up the season and looking ahead to next season.

Here is the full transcript of our conversation following the Mystics' loss on Friday night to the Atlanta Dream in the Eastern Conference semifinals:

This is two straight years where the Mystics have been swept out of the playoffs. Are there changes that need to be made? What needs to happen so the team can find success in the playoffs?

AT: We're really pleased with the direction that we're going in. You know Rome wasn't built in one day. We're taking that perspective, at the same time trying to be patient, but trying to be greedy as well. We know that we could have performed a lot better than we did in this particular playoff series. We feel like we have the pieces together. The nucleus that we've been trying to put together, we have a nice young nucleus of players that have played together for the last few years, that have experienced two very competitive playoff series, continue to grow, continue to improve individually, continue to improve collectively, and we think we're going in the right direction. We'll take a break here. In the next couple days, we'll evaluate where we are this season, evaluate each individual player, evaluate our team, what we need to do to continue to get better. Because our ultimate goal is to win the WNBA championship, and so in order to do that we need to continue to get better. We're not satisfied with where we are, and whatever that means, whatever adjustments we have to make, we'll consider those and see what we can do for next year.

The Mystics lost to an Atlanta franchise that has only been around three years. Are you frustrated that things are not happening quicker?

AT: Not at all. Atlanta is great team. It's a credit to what they've been able to build over the course of the last three years. And you look at them last year, it's not really an expansion team. They really have some nice pieces to the puzzle, nice players that they got through the dispersal draft, through the college draft. We don't base our progress on whatever everyone else is doing. We're basing our progress on what our plan was, and I think that we're ahead of schedule to a certain extent. We feel like based on what we accomplished this season we could have beaten anybody and just the cards just didn't fall in our favor during this playoff series.

What pieces would you like to add to this team?

AT: I think one of the biggest things we have to focus on is our post game. Crystal Langhorne has been a warrior for us all season long, and I think we need to find a complementary post player. She's seeing a lot of double and triple teams, quadruple teams in some situations. Teams know they have to take her away, and in order for us to be able to really utilize our perimeter game -- I think we have the best perimeter game in the WNBA. We have a lot of depth. We have different type of pieces on the perimeter. We have a Marissa Coleman and Katie Smith that can extend the defense. You have an Alana Beard coming back next year. You have Matee Ajavon who can get to the rim. And our interior game is the thing that we really want to focus on, and that's been something that probably the last couple years we've talked about. Pleased with obviously Crystal Langhorne's progress. I thought that Chasity and Nakia did a solid job this year, but they're both getting older in fairness to them. And Jacinta Monroe, for the amount of time she missed, when she did come back, she did some very nice things for us. You know it's tough to play such a big rotation once you get to the playoffs, so she didn't see that much time. But I think that we have some nice pieces that we need to continue to grow, but that's an area that we'll look to evaluate whether we do it internally, or if we look to do something in the draft, or trades, or just in free agency.

How will Alana Beard's comeback change the dynamic of the team?

AT: I think it will add to the mix that we have. The core of this team is used to playing with Alana; even Katie Smith has played with Alana in USA Basketball, and she adds to both ends of the court. You look at us: We were one of the better defensive teams this year. Alana is one of the best defensive players in the WNBA. So I think that from a one-on-one standpoint defensively, we'll continue to be very aggressive. We'll be able to get out a little more aggressive in the full court defensively, and then offensively, she was our leading scorer for the last several years. You know we want to make sure she's taking her time getting back and that she's healthy, but a completely healthy Alana Beard has a huge impact on this team. And I think that she'll be glad to come back and play, and play with some teammates who have now established their own game. Monique Currie has really established herself as not just a here-and-there player, or a role player, but she's a solid all-star. Crystal Langhorne and Lindsey Harding [also]. So I think that adding Alana will really enhance what we're able to do in the off-season.

Do you expect Katie Smith to come back?

AT: I was joking with her the other day. I think Katie could probably play another six years. Once you get to this point, obviously she's very wise as to what she needs to do to take care of her body. She knows how to prepare for games and do all that kind of stuff. Obviously, you see on the court what she brings to the court. Maybe the things that she did five or six years ago is a little bit different than what she's doing now. She may not be as explosive as she was before, but still a very potent player, still a very valuable player that anybody can have on their roster.

What is your assessment of Julie Plank and the coaching staff this season?

AT: I think Julie and the coaching staff did a phenomenal job. Going into this season, as soon as everyone heard that Alana Beard was out for the entire season, I don't think anybody could have expected that we would have the best season in franchise history, or that we would win the Eastern Conference probably at a time when, top to bottom, one through six, the Eastern Conference was the toughest that it's been probably in the history of the WNBA. And I credit that to Julie and her mentality in never say die. She wasn't going to give up just because we had one player out. She was going to figure out a way to get this team inspired to play as well as they're capable of playing, and I think that she did that. So very pleased with our coaching staff and really just our organization. Everything is in place for us to be successful, and now we'll take a look at it in the off-season and come into next year ready. I'm hoping to continue to move along in the journey that we have to the WNBA championship.

By Kathy Orton  |  August 28, 2010; 9:28 PM ET
Categories:  WNBA playoffs  
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Next: Lindsey Harding named to WNBA All-Defensive 2nd team

Comments

It's long past due that Chasity Melvin and Nakia Sanford should be replaced. The Mystics won't find much of a good post player with the 11th pick in the 1st round of the 2011 WNBA Draft. The Mystics will have to pick-up atleast two post players via trade or free agencey (Quanitra Hollingsworth, Sandrine Gruda, Jessica Davenport Courtney Paris, Laura Harper or Cheryl Ford).

Posted by: 4U2Know | August 29, 2010 5:03 AM | Report abuse

The post position has been the achilles heel the last couple of years. Crystal was outstanding, but can't do it all. As a Terp fan, I'd love to see her paired with Laura Harper again.

Maybe with Alana coming back, the need to find a solid back-up for Lyndsey isn't so urgent. Maybe Houts is the answer, maybe she isn't. Didn't see enough of her to be tell.

But kudos to Angela Taylor and the rest of the Mystics organization. Yeah, the playoffs were god-awful, but the regular season was fantastic.

Posted by: krae-kartoons | August 29, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Good season, but both of the older bigs should be thanked for their years of service and replaced. If they stay, or even if one of them stays, it is business as usual. That's the #1 priority.

Also, what Taylor calls "the best perimeter game in the WNBA" could use some help with outside shooting. Harding, Ajavon, Smith, and even Beard are not top outside shooters, and the Mystics could use one of those. I can't imagine that Kristi Toliver was not picked up when she was basically released by Chicago before the season.

Posted by: EdDC | August 29, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

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