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Beard returns ready to lead Mystics

Updated: May 20, 2006, 8:33 AM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Alana Beard is talented and charismatic, a natural leader who just turned 24. She is the only Duke women's basketball player to have her jersey number retired, and in two years she has established herself as the face of the WNBA's Washington Mystics.

But, five months ago, she spent a miserable Christmas in South Korea.

"The hardest thing I think I've ever had to deal with,'' Beard said. "It was even harder than going off to college for four years. It was ...

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