Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

WNBA Playoffs: Beard's High Notes For Mystics Quickly Turn Flat

By Jonathan Tannenwald

WASHINGTON _ About an hour before tipoff, Alana Beard was running around the corridors of Verizon Center Friday night full of energy. She was singing, shouting words of encouragement to her teammates, and generally making it clear to those around her that she was ready for the playoffs to begin.

Once the game started, though, everything went downhill in a hurry.

The Mystics’ star guard missed all eight of her field goal attempts in the first half, and after making two of three shots in the third quarter, shot 1-for-4 in the fourth quarter and spent nearly eight of those ten minutes on the bench.

That kind of a scoreline was the last thing Washington needed against the WNBA’s best team, and it was compounded by subpar efforts from point guard Nikki Teasley and forward Chasity Melvin.

After the game, reporters were initially told that Beard would not be making any comments. But that changed, and when she emerged from the locker room the emotions of the evening were still weighing heavily on her.

“You can look back and say we should have done this, we could have done better ... The fact is, we just lost the game,” Bead said. “We’ve got to continue to move on, we have another game coming up and hopefully we can push it into three games.”

Beard’s struggles were also compounded by the fact that the Mystics’ fourth-quarter rally came without her on the floor. Beard admitted that “it was real tough” to be on the bench, but added that “it’s what was best for the team.”

“Coach [Richie Adubato] felt that he had a great lineup going, and they made a comeback, got it to [within] three points,” she said. “Whatever I can do for the team, I'm willing to do, it’s no big deal.”

Beard tried to put a positive spin on the evening as a whole, claiming that her team’s offensive failures were mainly a matter of the “the shots we take” in most games just not falling.

“The fact is, we could have done it,” she continued. “I think DeLisha made a great point in her speech [after the game in the locker room] – she just said that there’s no tomorrow. And that's the only thing that I felt needed to be said. There is no tomorrow."

Beard was asked if she planned to change anything for Game 2, and she replied, “I’m going to continue to play the game.

“If anything, I probably just need to take 100 million deep breaths and realize that the game can’t be over in one quarter,” she said. “You just want it so bad, and when it doesn't happen it's very disappointing.”

No one doubts the level of passion with which Beard plays the game, and that mentality is a big reason why she has taken over so many games singlehandedly in her three-year Mystics career.

Yet one of the first things Adubato said in his postgame remarks was that “if we were going to beat them tonight, we had to have three people step up and play well.” He praised DeLisha Milton-Jones by name, and said that if Chasity Melvin had not been in foul trouble she would have had a big game.

That left one player’s name unstated. It was hard to not think that player was Alana Beard.

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