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Bogues back and loving it

Closing a real estate sale is a great business move, but there aren't thousands of screaming fans whooping it up on the sidelines when the deal is done. And that's what former NBA guard Muggsy Bogues missed after becoming a real estate agent.

Not anymore.

Bogues returned to the court earlier this month as coach of the Charlotte Sting. Although the task of turning around the last-place club is a tall one for the 5-foot-3 Bogues, he has embraced it.

"Real estate just never gave me that competition, that camaraderie,'' Bogues said. "This is giving me that, just to get
back into the basketball arena on the other side with coaching.''

Bogues spent 14 years in the NBA and was often among the league leaders in assists and steals. He averaged 8.8 points, 8.8 assists and 1.7 steals in his nearly 10 years in Charlotte. The former Wake Forest star and his family have called Charlotte home since 1988, and the community has welcomed his return to basketball.

"They're ecstatic, delighted that I'm back on the stage, so to speak,'' said Bogues, who maintains his real estate business.

His new task is to turn the Sting into winners. Bogues was hired Aug. 3 to replace Trudi Lacey, who remains general manager. Charlotte had four wins heading into the final week of the regular season, and had lost five of six games under Bogues.

"I hate losing and that's something I'm trying to adapt to. The players understand what my philosophy is,'' he said.

Lacey made several personnel moves in the offseason, hoping to surround three-time Olympian Dawn Staley with the right people to make a run to the finals in what could be Staley's final year. Newcomers included Sheri Sam from the defending champion Seattle Storm, Tangela Smith from the Sacramento Monarchs and Janel McCarville, the No. 1 draft pick out of Minnesota.

McCarville, a reserve, has struggled with injuries and the speed of the pro game.

When it became clear the season was lost, the team dealt Staley to playoff contender Houston. Bogues promises more personnel moves.

"We don't know where. We have some talent on the team. I like some of the pieces,'' he said. "We're just a couple pieces away from where we want to be.''

For now, however, Bogues is exactly where he wants to be.

"I'm getting accustomed to it,'' he said. "When the word 'coach' comes around, I have to look around to see who they're
talking to.''

Great expectations

Washington coach Richie Adubato always has
preferred big guards.

Hired by the Mystics after the April draft, he figured on a
rangy backcourt tandem. Instead, Adubato inherited 5-foot-3 dynamo
Tameka Johnson, the Mystics' first-round pick out of LSU.

"I came in with the idea this is what our team is all about --
big guards,'' Adubato said. "A lot of overall size, you can switch
a lot. But sometimes you're dealt a different hand.''

And how.

Second-year guard Alana Beard missed the first four games with a
sprained right ankle. Johnson helped carry the team early on, and
her stats make a strong case for rookie of the year.

She leads all rookies in scoring (9.4), assists (5.4), minutes
(28.9) and steals (1.27). Her quick step makes her hard to defend,
plus she can hit from the perimeter, shooting 46.9 percent.

Adubato knew that Johnson was his point guard when she started
for Beard.

"She pushed the ball, her assist-to-turnover ratio was great,''
he said. "She gets after people defensively and is very hard to
defend because she has a great crossover. It was a nice surprise.''

The Mystics are in contention for the fourth and final playoff
spot in the Eastern Conference. Johnson has helped get them there.

"She's our missing piece,'' Beard said. "We didn't have a
point guard we could rely on. She can rock anybody.''

Johnson has seen changes in her game since the first day of
training camp.

"Be quick but don't hurry,'' she said with a laugh. "The
concentration level has to be there. You need to know what's going
on every point.''

Houston's hot hand

Locked in a battle for second place in the
Western Conference, Houston and Seattle have had some
down-to-the-wire matchups.

Michelle Snow and Sheryl Swoopes combined for 43 points in the
Comets' 75-72 win at the Toyota Center last Sunday. Snow, who ranks
first in the league in field goal percentage (.559), was nearly
unstoppable inside, a fact not lost on coach Van Chancellor. And
the Storm knew it.

"You could hear coach Chancellor on the sidelines calling her
number, calling her play,'' Seattle guard Sue Bird said. "She just
did a great job.''

Snow finished with 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting.

Houston held Bird scoreless in the first 27 minutes. She
finished with 14 points, but missed a game-tying shot with 4
seconds left.

"I'll give Sue Bird that shot every night of the week and she
will make it nine out of ten times,'' Seattle coach Anne Donovan
said.

Douglas' debut

Katie Douglas has been in the league five
years, but it wasn't until this past week that the former Purdue
star landed her first WNBA player of the week award. The
Connecticut Sun shooting guard averaged 15.6 points and 6.6 assists
in three straight victories.

Her defense also has helped the league-leading Sun clinch a
second straight Eastern Conference title. With 46 steals, Douglas
is second in steals behind Sun All-Star Nykesha Sales.

Final word

"Coach Bibby has set a different precedent. When we step on the court, we're not allowed to laugh and talk. I even
told coach Bibby, 'I'm surprised that I like you.' '' -- Lisa Leslie, in the preseason, on Sparks coach Henry Bibby, parted ways with the Sparks on Wednesday with a 13-15 record.