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WEDNESDAY

The ladies of pro hoops don’t climb the ladder like their counterparts in the NBA, but the Washington Mystics certainly have the big-league injuries from trying. Three of its five starting players have been out with injuries, including star Chamique Holdsclaw (pictured), who has been recuperating from stress fractures in her foot. Last Friday, guard Kellie Jolly Harper sprained her ankle. Heather Owen and Nikki McCray have been dogged by knee troubles. There’s even a manly groin pull on the injuries list. But if Head Coach Nancy Darsch can cobble together a squad for tonight’s season opener against the Orlando Miracle, local basketball purists should be no less edified than they would be at a Wizards game. There may not be any dunks, but look for crisp entry passes, spine-buckling backdoor picks, a swirl of movement away from the ball, and little of the one-on-one isolation schemes that turn many NBA games into snoozers. Plus, if her wrist tape holds, fans may catch sight of 6-foot-3, 232-pound rookie center Tausha “The Female Shaq” Mills plowing over some weak-kneed defenders in the paint—and then clanking a few clutch free throws off the back of the rim. Oh, and one more thing the WBNA games have over men’s hoops: The tickets are cheap. At 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 31, at the MCI Center, 601 F St. NW. $8-$100. (202) 432-7328. (Stephanie Mencimer)