The Consummate Professional
There’s been a lot of changes inside the Washington Mystics in recent seasons. But one thing that always seems to remain the same is the strong play of Coco Miller.
Miller is helping out again this season, giving the Mystics some offensive punch off the bench in a time when Washington has badly needed it. Her play will be even more important when the second part of the season begins later this week because interim coach Jessie Kenlaw is going to shift the team’s offense into the fast-break mode.
The 5-foot-9 Miller turns 30 on Sept. 6 but shows no signs of slowing down. She’s played in 26 games and averaged nearly 20 minutes and 5.3 points. That’s been her role throughout her eight year career—all of which has been spent with Washington.
“I feel my role is to give energy to this team and, defensively, try to be as much of a stopper as I can,” Miller said. “Offensively, [I want to] just provide as much energy as I can.”
Miller has needed to adjust because her role has changed from earlier in Washington. She didn’t get much playing time as a rookie in 2001, but quickly became a starter in 2002 and 2003, averaging 9.3 and 12.5 points per game.
But the Mystics then decided to bring her off the bench to give the team a spark. She’s still started from time to time, but Miller needed to adjust to not being a starter.
“Initially it was [tough],” Miller said. “But I knew I had to accept my role and my position on this team. I want to win and do whatever I can do to help the team.”
And she’s done just that throughout her career, becoming a valuable player coming off the bench for Washington.
Miller said she tried to regain some of her energy during the month-long layoff the WNBA went on during the Beijing Olympics. She returned to Phoenix and relaxed for a week before coming back to town, doing some individual work and then starting to practice with the Mystics once more.
Miller thinks that Kenlaw’s philosophy of pushing it and running more on offense will help a team that struggled throughout the first part of the year.
“We’re very athletic,” Miller said. “I think that style fits our team so well. It’s a fun way to play, too.”
She also said the Mystics will be ready to make a final run at the playoffs. Trailing by two games with eight remaining, Washington is going to have to get on a roll very quickly.
“We’ve been working really hard now,” Miller said. “I think we’re going to come out really strong. We’ve changed and tweaked a few things.”
Miller said that she wants to be more assertive offensively and help the team score. She plans on attacking the basket, working at penetrating and getting to the foul line – anything to get more points on the board, along with playing tough defense.
In other words, she’s going to keep trying to give the team a spark.
“We’ve had some great practices, and we’re ready to go,” Miller said.