2013 WNBA Season Previews: Atlanta Dream

With the start of the WNBA season arriving on Friday, it’s time for the annual in-depth WNBAlien season previews. As tradition dictates, it’s the Eastern Conference first, in alphabetical order. Enjoy!

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PG: Jasmine Thomas/Alex Bentley

SG: Armintie Herrington/Courtney Clements

SF: Angel McCoughtry/Tiffany Hayes/Anne Marie Armstrong

PF: Sancho Lyttle/Le’coe Willingham

C: Erika de Souza/Aneika Henry

 

Significant gains: Jasmine Thomas, Le’coe Willingham, Alex Bentley (all stretching the term ‘significant’).

Significant losses: Lindsey Harding.

 

Last season was a tumultuous one for the Atlanta Dream. There was all kinds of drama surrounding star player Angel McCoughtry, which precipitated a midseason change at head coach. Then after a decent run to close the regular season they were dumped out of the playoffs by Indiana, despite winning the opening game on the road. Rather than the trade which seemed inevitable when the Dream were imploding last year, McCoughtry was quietly re-signed in the offseason, retaining their key piece and avoiding an ugly rebuilding job.

 

However, there was one remaining kick in the teeth from the Marynell Meadors era still lurking in the shadows waiting to damage the Dream this offseason. The core designation in the WNBA is like the ‘franchise tag’ in the NFL – it allows each team to ‘core’ one player, preventing her from leaving the team as a free agent. However, when you’re cored and sign a multi-year contract, you remain the team’s core player for the length of that deal (unless you’re traded or retire). After the 2011 season, Meadors used the core designation on post player Erika de Souza, then signed her to a multi-year deal. So when point guard Lindsey Harding became an unrestricted free agent this offseason, the Dream could do nothing to prevent her from testing free agency. And she decided the sunshine and glitz of Los Angeles was preferable to staying in Atlanta. It leaves a glaring hole in Atlanta’s lineup at the point.

Continue reading

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2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Atlanta Dream

PG: Lindsey Harding/Ketia Swanier

SG: Armintie Price/Laurie Koehn

SF: Angel McCoughtry/Tiffany Hayes

PF: Sancho Lyttle/Cathrine Kraayeveld

C: (Erika de Souza)/Yelena Leuchanka/Courtney Paris/Aneika Henry

Significant additions: Swanier (free agency from Phoenix), Kraayeveld (free agency from Chicago), Leuchanka (returning after year off), Hayes (college draft)

Significant losses: de Souza (Brazilian National Team for first half of the season), Lyttle (unconfirmed absence midseason to join Spanish National Team), Iziane Castro Marques (currently with Brazilian National Team, remains WNBA unrestricted free agent), Shalee Lehning (injured and retired from WNBA), Alison Bales (retired from WNBA), assistant coach Carol Ross (left to take head coach position in Los Angeles)

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Well just reading that list above doesn’t paint a pretty picture, does it? The Dream have fought their way into the WNBA Finals both of the last two years, and went into the offseason hoping to build on the squad and break through that final hurdle. But it’s not going to be easy, and the first half of the season looks like it could be about staying in contention rather than trying to build a lead. Their perimeter rotation and depth looks like it might be weaker than last year, while the loss of center Erika de Souza to Olympic duty for the first half of the season – and potentially her frontcourt partner Sancho Lyttle to EuroBasket qualifiers with Spain – will seriously weaken their interior. Still, two years in a row this team have managed to find a way into the playoffs, then proven that seeding doesn’t necessarily count for much. Betting against them might not be smart. Continue reading

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Atlanta Dream

With training camps underway across the WNBA and the preseason schedule tipping off on Saturday afternoon, it’s time for WNBAlien to take a look at what everyone got up to in the offseason. From trades to free agent signings, draft selections to injuries, Olympic absentees to the battles for roster spots, this is your team-by-team catch-up for what you might’ve missed over those long months between W seasons. We’ll also take a look at what each team might still be trying to work out during training camp before the real games begin on May 18th. Sticking with WNBAlien tradition, it’s Eastern Conference first, in alphabetical order, then the West.


Atlanta Dream

Current Roster certainties and virtual certainties:

PG: Lindsey Harding/Ketia Swanier

SG: Armintie Price/Coco Miller

SF: Angel McCoughtry/Tiffany Hayes

PF: Sancho Lyttle/Cathrine Kraayeveld

C: (Erika de Souza)/Yelena Leuchanka

Fighting for the remaining one or two spots: Courtney Paris, Aneika Henry, Laurie Koehn (I’m not going to be listing every random training camp invitee for every team)

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It’s not been the greatest of offseasons for the Dream. It started with assistant coach Carol Ross being stolen away by the Sparks to take over in LA, followed by backup point guard Shalee Lehning announcing that the knee injury that ended her 2011 season would in fact mark the end of her WNBA career, and backup post Alison Bales also deciding to retire from the WNBA. Brazilians Erika de Souza and Iziane Castro Marques will spend at least the first half of the season with the Brazilian national team preparing for the London Olympics. Erika was re-signed and is expected in Atlanta following the Games; Castro Marques remains an unrestricted free agent.

Free agency didn’t exactly result in a deluge of additions or improvements either. Continue reading

WNBAlien 2011 Previews: Atlanta Dream

Here we go, folks: 12 teams, 16ish hours because I got up a bit late. As tradition dictates, Eastern Conference first, then the West, both in alphabetical order to show no favourites. With a bit of luck I’ll be done before the Lynx and Sparks tip-off in LA tonight, then manage to stay awake through the game.

First up, conveniently enough, just happens to be the team I watched practice last weekend…

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PG: Lindsey Harding/Shalee Lehning

SG: Iziane Castro-Marques/Coco Miller

SF: Angel McCoughtry/Armintie Price

PF: Sancho Lyttle/Sandora Irvin/Brittainey Raven

C: Erika de Souza/Alison Bales (plus eventually Yelena Leuchanka)

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Head coach: Marynell Meadors

Significant additions: Harding.

Significant losses: Yelena Leuchanka and Lyttle for part of the season, Kelly Miller if you stretch ‘significant’.

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As the reigning Eastern Conference champions, we know the Atlanta Dream can be pretty damn good. Continue reading