Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Official Closing of the Blog



If you haven't guessed, there's been a dearth of activity here at the Pleasant Dreams Blog. Generally, when the Dream basketball season ended it was hard to fill the blog with content. Furthermore, changes in my life made it difficult to find opportune times to post, as you can read in this previous comment.

But now, I've decided to make the big decision to change my location. I will no longer be blogging at the Pleasant Dreams Blog. I shall instead be blogging at Swish Appeal, a website which is devoted to both professional and college women's basketball. When the 2011 Atlanta Dream season starts, you will find all of the content devoted to the Dream at that blog instead of at this one.

Furthermore, I am also covering women's college basketball for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. If you ever wanted to hear what my voice sounds like, or listen to my unfortunate stutter, you can go to this post and hear the dulcet tones of Petrel bothering Georgia Tech head coach MaChelle Joseph.

But you won't just find me there. You'll find a lot of great writers too numerous to mention, and I'd better not mention any of them because if I leave one of them out I'll never hear the end of it. (And besides, I've linked to their posts at this blog before so you might recognize them anyway.) Site registration at Swish Appeal is free, but you do have to establish an identity there in that you have to sign up for a user name. (This drives posters away for some reason. I can't figure it out.) I will say that the writing is top-notch, and not because I'm writing for it.

The platform at Swish Appeal is much more flexible than the one at Blogger.com, and it's just a damned sight simpler to post there - as a matter of fact, you can use the "Fanposts" feature and post your own content if you've got an issue that you feel you can't confine to the comments at Pleasant Dreams.

I was very reluctant to close down the blog. But no, the blog isn't closing down. It's just moving.

Am I going to stop following the Atlanta Dream? No way. I'm just going to write about it somewhere else from now on. If you need to locate me, you can still write to me at the address listed at the top of the blog. I have really enjoyed spending time with all of you, and hope to look for you at Swish Appeal.

The blog content will not be folded. This blog will stay up as long as Blogger.com continues to support it. The archives shall remain public. But, barring some unforseen circumstance it shall no longer be updated. So update your blog rolls for those of you that use that feature.

And now...we wave the magic wand, we wish Pleasant Dreams to all of you, and we move all of our Atlanta Dream love and paraphernelia over to Swish Appeal. See you there and GO DREAM!

--Pet

Monday, October 11, 2010

Iziane to Play in Turkey



We now have as complete a player update of Atlanta Dream players overseas as we can get from the Atlanta Dream website.

The previous list:

Alison Bales: Union Hainaut, France
Erika de Souza: Perfumerias, Spain
Yelena Leuchanka: AZS Gorzow, Poland
Sancho Lyttle: Perfumerias, Spain
Angel McCoughtry: MKB Euroleasing, Hungary
Brittainey Raven: Lattes Montpelier, France

In addition, we have Iziane Castro Marques signing with Besitkas in Turkey. However, I found a website that states that Iziane is playing with the "Arsenal" team, and the Turkish Basketball Website is no help. We'll assume that the DFO knows the score.

This leaves four players. Shalee Lehning will be in her second year as an assistant coach at Kansas State. The lead sentence is "Shalee Lehning enters her second season as an assistant coach on Deb Patterson's staff", confirming that she'll be on the sidelines of K-State in the off-season.

Armintie Price will also go back to coaching in the off-season for Mississippi State. Price - known as Armintie Price Herrington on the Ole Miss coaching staff page - might be working as a guards coach this year.

We still know nothing about what Coco and Kelly Miller will be doing this off-season.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Update on the Dream Overseas



Note: an update on the teams where we can find Atlanta Dream players in the off-season. New information on Alison Bales and Brittainey Raven.

Sancho Lyttle and Erika de Souza will be playing for Perfumerias in Spain. Perfumerias finished second in the Spanish League last year and Ros Casares - Erika's previous team - finished first. Erika will be joining Sancho Lyttle for the first time this year and this makes Perfumerias an automatic championship contender...not just of the Liga Femenina, but of Euroleague as well.

Angel McCoughtry will move to the MKB Euroleasing team, in Hungary. McCoughtry was the second-leading scorer in Euroleague behind Diana Taurasi, taking her Good Angels Kosice team to the Euroleague quarterfinals. MKB Euroleasing has finished four straight years at the top of Hungary's A Division but last years 5th place finish in Group C in Euroleague was a disappointment. It looks like Euroleasing will repair that mistake.

Yelena Leuchanka has just signed with AZS Gorzow of Poland. Gorzow made the jump from Eurocup to Eurloleague last year but finished in last place in Group C. Only the Polish PLKK is any consolation, where Gorzow has come up short in the PLKK finals for the last two years. Gorzow is hoping for an extra push.

Right now, we don't know where Iziane Castro Marques, Coco Miller or Kelly Miller will end up. Castro Marques played for Krakow and Kelly Miller played for Spartak Moscow. Coco Miller went...with her sister, where she trained with Spartak Moscow but I suspect she did not play there. Marques will not be playing for Krakow this year, but she'll be playing somewhere undoubtedly; the Miller twins are a bigger question mark.

Shalee Lehning and Armintie Price have other options for the off-season. Lehning has a coaching in with Kansas State, Price has one with Mississippi. Lehning (from my understanding) hadn't made up her mind about Europe yet, at least not at the beginning of the 2010 WNBA season. I don't know about Price.

Alison Bales will be playing with Union Hainaut Basket in France. Another player joining Bales will be Brittainey Raven, who I believe (but can't prove) will be playing for Lattes Montpelier. Both teams are at the highest level of French basketball. I also understand that Raven is there on a three-month contract and won't be eligible to play until November 6th when Lattes Montpelier takes on Challes.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Some Links of Mine



A couple of articles I've put up at Swish Appeal:

About Spanish League basketball: Erika and Sancho Lyttle will be among those playing for Spanish teams in the off-season. The link is here.

About Vicky Bullett: ...and what remarkable accomplishment puts her up with Lisa Leslie, Lauren Jackson and Yolanda Griffith. The link is here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Oh Dream, What Now?



As anyone who is an Atlanta Dream fan knows, this season was an emotional roller coaster. From Chamique Holdsclaw declining to report to training camp, to a 6-0 start, to the end-of-the-season tailspin, to the brand new post-season lineup to the sweep through the Eastern Conference playoffs, through Angel McCoughtry's 42 in one game and 35 in another, to the Dream losing in the narrowest sweep in WNBA history in front of a sellout Atlanta crowd, you quite literally didn't know what was going to happen next.

When you go to the Finals for the first time, but you lose, the question is "should you be bitter or should you be happy"? My answer is that whatever you are, you shouldn't be that happy - or, if you are happy, you certainly shouldn't show it. You don't want the Dream to be like the Chicago Cubs, one of those teams that just seems happy to be participating win or lose. No, we are most emphatically NOT just "happy to be there". We want to WIN.

But even though we are not happy, we can take satisfaction in many things. We might walk out with a sad contenance, but we can also walk out with pride. It is quite possible for the two to coexist. No one predicted the Dream as WNBA Finalists - but we were. There were some in the tight-knit community of women's basketball fans - you know who you are - who predicted that not only would the Storm sweep but that they would romp, a "sit back, grab the popcorn and enjoy the fun" moment. Undoubtedly, some of those viewers choked on a few kernels.

The Dream could have beaten any team in the WNBA except the Storm. I believe we might have even been able to beat the 2009 Phoenix team, but you never get to choose the team you play. The 2010 Storm was one of the best WNBA teams in history, and they would have beaten several past WNBA champions if you want to match championship squads historically. The 2010 Seattle squad probably couldn't have beaten those turn of the century Los Angeles Sparks championship teams but they could have beaten just about anyone else. In a way, the Atlanta Dream were much like the Boston Red Sox - except that the Dream have only had the opportunity to draw one all-world opponent whereas the BoSox kept drawing them over and over and over again.

The good thing about the Dream's championship run is that it the team might have earned the attention of a few more local faces. Marynell Meadors in her post-game press conference stated that Dream was getting more attention from the girls high school community. From my own personal experience I know that more people know about the Dream that I would have previously expected.

Hopefully, the experience will leave everyone hungry for more. My hope is that Kathy Betty has enjoyed the experience so much in her rookie year of WNBA ownership that she'll just want to keep repeating it over and over. My estimation is that WNBA teams can lose as much as $1.5-$2.5 million per year - not a lot of money in the sports world but a very expensive purchase. Betty stated in an interview that she loved the team but also realized that it was a business, and her goal - and necessity - was to put the team in black ink.

Aaron's Inc. helped. They didn't go in for a jersey sponsorship but they helped in a lot of other ways. We saw the Aaron's Inc. mascot, Lucky, at several Dream games. One thrilling event was the Aaron's Dog Drop, where several tiny versions of the mascot were parachuted down into the crowd from the attic of Philips Arena. Those little dogs cost money.

I'm reminded of a complaint on Twitter from some anonymous lout that went along the following lines - "Ha ha, you had to discount your tickets 65 percent for your Finals game. FAIL." Watch out for that FAIL taunt, because it can a double-edged sword. First, our Finals game was sold out with over 10,000 in attendance. Second, it seems like the previous complaint of the haters was that the WNBA couldn't sell out its Finals games. Now, they've had to adjust their whining - now, they claim that we sell them out but we sell them out too cheaply. The crowd might not have paid full price - but trust me, those seats were filled and that crowd was definitely active. So the haters get a BACKFAIL.

Great year for the Atlanta Dream. Sad year, but also a year of accomplishments and a lot to build on and look forward to next year. (And by the way, WNBA, the officiating was terrible. At least it didn't affect the Finals that much, since the bad was dolloped out in equal portions to the Dream and the Storm.)

"So Pet," you might ask, "what now?" Well, Angel McCoughtry and Marynell Meadors get on a plane to the Czech Republic to join the United States team at the FIBA World Championships. Everyone else on the Dream not involved in FIBA scatters like paper in the wind. Most hop on flights overseas to join their European teams for "off-season" professional play. Shalee Lehning and Armintie Price might hook up with Kansas State or Mississippi again to join their coaching staffs. Alison Bales might crack open the books and take a few more med school courses. The majority of them who don't live in Atlanta won't be seen again in the United States - save for the rare vacation - until 2011.

Marynell Meadors will probably go back to her home in Florida (I believe) after the FIBA championships for a little while before swinging into Phase Two - watching a lot of college games and keeping her eyes on the free agency status of players all around the league. Some Dream players probably won't be back next year, despite the success of 2010 - it's rare for rosters to remain fixed year after year after year. The actual nuts and bolts of the front office will reduce itself to a skeleton crew without the need to handle the day-to-day issues associated with the regular season. For Kathy Betty, the goal will be to raise both awareness of the Dream in the Atlanta community and to seek sponsorship money.

As for me, I'll probably end up following the Dream players - in spirit, anyway - on their various world-wide journeys, reading websites in a bevy of languages to determine how well overseas players are faring. I'll be watching Georgia Tech women's basketball, and my goal is to plan things so that I can watch even more women's basketball games than I did the year before. The Yellow Jackets play Tennessee on a neutral court and Connecticut in Atlanta, so it will be a fascinating season.

And the blog...oh yes, that....

In Zen, there's a concept called "beginner's mind". This, in Wikipedia, is defined as "having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would". During my first two years of writing the Pleasant Dreams Blog, I was definitely in a state of beginner's mind, because I was a beginner. I had never followed basketball up to that point, and everything was new and interesting and fun to learn.

However, mastering the intricacies of basketball is virtually impossible even for those who get paid for it. In terms of fandom, I'm years behind and I am coming to grips with the fact that I shall simply never catch up - the teenage years when I could have soaked up the sport like a sponge or even attempted to play it are gone for good. I can only see linearly on a court, and not multilinearly. I'm still applying my baseball mind to basketball, and so I can't recognize pick and rolls and can only barely recognize the concept of rotation defense. I can at least tell a zone from a man-to-man...but so can a lot of other people. My understanding of the game, in many respects, is that of a clever elementary school student. I've had to try to listen as much as I could to people who knew more than I did, but fight the temptation to substitute my knowledge for theirs. There's no point in being free of preconception when you just pick up someone else's preconceptions.

The changes in my life over the past year in terms of employment and home combined with hitting the hard part of the basketball learning curve wiped out my beginnner's mind. Reporting on the sport became tedious, my attention focused in a thousand directions, my energy lackluster. I wasn't open, I wasn't eager, and I was full of preconceptions. So I walked away from the blog in an attempt to recover my beginner's mind and my time away from the blog and from other issues has partially helped...but I'm not where I'd like to be, not yet.

So I will continue to go on walkabout, and stay away from serious blogging. I might contribute to Swish Appeal every now and then and I'll provide links at this blog to any new Swish Appeal articles. I might have something else to write here at Pleasant Dreams during the interim, but the goal is to break away from the old habits and seek new approaches. "Strive on with diligence," as Buddha might say.

For those who have hung on for the journey, thank you. I don't know where the journey is going to end, but I still love the game. I'm sure that whatever happens, it's going to be wonderful.

(P. S. : As to specific thoughts about the particulars of this series and off-season moves that might be made, this might come later.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Exhaustion



So close.

Eight points.

Angel is great.

There will be one big post on the weekend.

All love to the Dream.