Mystics Coach Darsch Quits

Nancy Darsch, who never hit it off with rising star Chamique Holdsclaw, resigned Friday as coach of the WNBA's Washington Mystics.

Darrell Walker, who served as interim coach with the NBA's Washington Wizards last season after Gar Heard was fired, will take over in the same role with the Mystics. Walker, also the Wizards' director of player personnel, held his first practice with the Mystics late Friday.

No explanation was offered for Darsch's resignation in a statement released by the team.

"This was Nancy's decision after conversations this week with me," executive vice president Wes Unseld said. "I reluctantly accepted her resignation. She is a talented coach and we wish her well in the future."

Darsch led the Mystics to a 12-20 record last season, a vast improvement from 3-27 the previous year. The Mystics are 9-11 this year, a disappointing record for a team projected to make the playoffs.

But Darsch and Holdsclaw, the much-celebrated No. 1 overall draft pick a year ago, never saw eye-to-eye in terms of offensive strategy. Darsch tried to institute a movement-oriented triangle offense. Holdsclaw likes to free-lance, and she often complained that the offense wasn't working.

Three weeks ago, Holdsclaw criticized Darsch after being benched for the last few minutes of a loss to Sacramento, saying: "I don't play for the coaches, I play for my teammates. ... I think we'll win basketball games with (Darsch), but I don't think we'll ever be a great team. If we do, it will be because of us."

General manager Melissa McFerrin, a longtime friend and assistant under Darsch at Ohio State University and with the WNBA's New York Liberty, gathered Darsch and Holdsclaw together to patch things up. But the friction returned Wednesday night when Darsch questioned the team's maturity following a 81-58 loss to expansion Indiana.

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