Tuesday, January 6, 2009
1. The Dream won't hit .500, but they'll get close. Despite all the talent that is going to be flooding into this team, the Dream just don't have enough of the pieces to put it together. I predict at best a 16-18 season, but with the Dream no longer rolling over for the Eastern Conference powers it will be Sky, the Dream and the Fever fighting for that fourth playoff spot.
If, however, the Dream has their best possible outcome - everyone comes back happy and healthy and no one gets injured - 20 games is not out of the question.
2. If the Dream can't win 12 games, Marynell Meadors will be fired. Owner Ron Terwilliger most likely expects results. He's signed the contracts. He's made the investment. With a #1 draft pick and Holdsclaw coming back, Terwilliger should hope for real improvement, now that Betty Lennox won't be double- and triple-teamed anymore. Furthermore, he has Carol Ross on the bench as an option if the team gives up on Meadors. However, he has nothing to lose by sticking with Meadors and seeing what comes of it.
And even if Carol Ross takes over, there's no guarantee that she'll succeed. You can't coach pros like you coach college kids. College kids need instruction and discipline. Pros need personality management.
3. Yelena Leuchanka won't be coming back. Meadors already has a seat warm at center for Katie Mattera. That leaves one or at most two seats left. With Alison Bales and Chantelle Anderson available, I suspect Meadors will settle for homegrown talent.
4. Dream attendance will either a) stay the same, or b) go up in 2009. Usually, you can depend on a sophomore slump in attendance - the team isn't new anymore. But if Holdsclaw puts on a uniform, you can expect about 500 extra seats sold a night, which should make up for the economic slump. (Expect those seat holders to be wearing orange, though.)
5. Holdsclaw will be great, but others will be greater. Holdsclaw will show that she hasn't lost a step and that yes, the hype is real. As long as she has fellow Lodge member Jennifer Lacy on the team, Chamique should be happy. But the new #1 Dream draft pick and even Sancho Lyttle have the potential to knock Chamique off the sports pages and with Erika de Souza (hopefully) healthy, it could be a really tough team.
6. Tamera Young will be traded or not make the team. There are three forwards with bullseyes on their backs - Kasha Terry, Jennifer Lacy, and Tamera Young. Lacy doesn't have to worry about her job. Terry will end up going, and its possible that Atlanta could trade Young for a veteran roleplayer. After an awful first season and a disastrous European outing, Young's position is precarious.
7. Who will not be back? Alison Bales, but it will be a mistake to let her go. Kasha Terry. Kristin Haynie, if Nikki Teasley is really all that and a bag of chips. Young might hang on for a 13th roster spot, but there are no guarantees. And, sadly, the Chioma Nnamaka era will be over in Atlanta.
8. McCoughtry will be the first round pick (but it should have been Paris). With Holdsclaw and Lyttle showing up, Meadors really needs to store up the guard spot - Iziane was a disaster in 2008, and aside from her 2007 season Izi's been unimpressive in the WNBA. But Meadors has her favorites and has rewarded Izi with a 3-year contract. Furthermore, Betty Lennox and a new guard would be fighting for minutes almost instantly, and Betty gets what Betty wants. Betty knows Izi and feels comfortable with her on court.
With no really outstanding guard left in the draft, it will be either McCoughtry or Paris, both of whom want to be the number one pick and accept all the responsibility that comes with it. Paris, however, has her detractors - apparently, Paris weighs too much, reminding me of another talented prospect who never achieved fame because of his massive girth - Babe Ruth. So it will go to McCoughtry, who will put on a show in Atlanta.
9. Expect clubhouse fireworks. McCoughtry could just go into a pout at the Dream if things don't work well. An old article indicates McCoughtry used to be a handful at Louisville. Combine this with B-Money's sulking and with Holdsclaw's depression issues and the Atlanta media (if they show up) could get a lot of...interesting quotes this year.
10. Expect Ivory to be Ivory. Smiling. Happy. Full of energy. If she plays in 2009 like she did in Europe in the offseason...whoof. We might go to the playoffs after all!
Predicted Lineup for 2009
C Katie Mattera
C Chantelle Anderson
F/C Erika de Souza
F Sancho Lyttle
F Jennifer Lacy
F Chamique Holdsclaw
F Angel McCoughtry
G Betty Lennox
G Iziane Castro Marques
G/F Ann Strother
G Ivory Latta
G Nikki Teasley