SACRAMENTO -- Life with Kara Lawson is always on the move.
"It's already been a packed year," said the Monarchs' veteran guard. "Team USA, broadcasting, getting in shape and trying to plan a wedding; I've been busy."
"Actually, this is the best part of the year for us," said Damien Barling, Lawson's new husband. "Most of the time, we're just crossing paths. At least now (during the WNBA season), she'll be here for most of the summer."
Even in one place, the Monarchs' co-captain can seem like a blur. Lawson will help lead a young and mostly inexperienced squad when the Monarchs open the 2008 season tonight against the San Antonio Silver Stars at Arco Arena.
Coupled with her previous Kings broadcasting, her ESPN work has made Lawson the Monarchs' most recognizable face. Starting her sixth season in Sacramento, she's second in Monarchs seniority, a veteran on a rebuilding team and one of its best scorers and ball handlers.
During Thursday's "Meet the Monarchs Night" at Arden Fair mall, Lawson demonstrated her touch by sinking 28 3-pointers in a total of 90 seconds. In two preseason games, she's averaged 19.5 points.
A 2007 WNBA All-Star, Lawson concentrated during the offseason on making the U.S. Olympic team and showed her poise -- and long-range shooting -- while leading Team USA to major international wins. She squeezed 20 national games into an already hectic schedule.
"I figured this was my one shot and I better make the most of it," said Lawson, who hopes to get one of 12 Olympic team roster spots.
"It helped prepare me for this season," she said. "I've been playing 5-on-5 against the (country's) best players."
For most of her career, Lawson rarely cracked the Monarchs' starting lineup, playing behind all-time WNBA assists leader Ticha Penicheiro. With Chelsea Newton still recovering from a groin strain, Lawson is expected to start tonight alongside Penicheiro. It will be her 18th start in 161 WNBA games.
"Starting has never been a big deal for me," Lawson said. "What's more important is your production while you're out there."
Monarchs coach Jenny Boucek agreed.
"Starting is not that important in our system," Boucek said. "Kara made All-Star coming off the bench. It's more about our rotation."
Penicheiro called Lawson's progress "unbelievable."
"She's always been a great shooter and really smart, but she's physically changed," Penicheiro said. "She can do so many more things now. She already was an outstanding leader, but she's really developed her game."
The Monarchs also expect Lawson to be a team leader, stepping into the void caused by Yolanda Griffith's departure.
"That's why I made her a co-captain last season," Boucek said. "I wanted her to step up into that role."
Now Lawson is ready to get back on the court.
"I don't get too caught up in my role; I just play," she said. "I've always been a player. I'll do what I need to do."
-- THE ASSOCIATED PRESS