Sunday, June 6, 2010
The Atlanta Dream are actually one quarter of the way through their season. They've played nine games and the season is only thirty-four long. I was hoping that I could watch games and comment on their results through the power of WNBA Live Access, but WNBA Live Access has proved punchless all year. I think I've only seen one game on Live Access that I could follow from beginning to end without technical errors. (Of course, when the team is on NBA TV you bet your bippy I'll be watching it.)
So how does the Dream shape up in the first quarter of the season? Which players are dreams and which ones are duds? Here are my reports regarding various players of the Dream.
1. Angel McCoughty: She's lost about 6 percent of her shooting touch, probably because she's playing more minutes and facing tougher defenses. Even so, McCoughtry is talked up as a potential WNBA Most Valuable Player for 2010. With all the things she juggles - US National Team Membership and being named a Dream co-captain - what's most surprising is that McCoughtry doesn't care about honors at all. McCoughtry has that rare quality of a superstar - the ability to will her team to win.
Best of '10: A 97-82 win against Connecticut where she scored 32 points and 10 rebounds. She could have broken her career scoring record in that game if she wasn't cooling her heels on the bench near the end.
Worst of '10: The 66-62 win over Indiana, which was our first home win of the year. She scored 11 points and shot 4-for-13 from the field.
2. Sancho Lyttle. Lyttle might be the most overlooked player on the Dream. The world is waking up and finally noticing Erika de Souza but they appear not to be sold on Sancho Lyttle's abilities. Lyttle has just gotten better and better as time passes. Part of it is due to the fact that she started basketball late in life; she always had the athleticism but each year adds to her understanding and sense for the rhythm of basketball.
Best of '10: When she was a big figure in that 97-82 home win against the Sun. 27 points, 11 rebounds. She was overshadowed however, by McCoughtry's amazing game listed above. Those two players combined for over half the Dream's points.
Worst of '10: The 86-77 road win against the Liberty. She played less than 20 minutes, shot 2-for-7 and had five fouls and just five points.
3. Erika de Souza: Is there anything that Erika de Souza can't do? She dominates the post, she's got height, she can knock Candace Parker off her pins and in the off-season she does it all over again in Spain. If there were something called an "All-World MVP", de Souza would be the #1 contender.
Best of '10: Our recent 86-79 overtime road win against the Mystics. Erika shot 11-for-15 from the floor and had 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Worst of '10: The 80-70 loss against Chicago at home. She scored zero points and shot 0-for-6 from the field. De Souza was essentially a non-factor.
4. Iziane Castro Marques: When McCoughtry and Iziane are hot, the Dream is unbeatable. One out of every three games Iziane is absolutely on fire, and when the Dream are playing well with her, we usually win. Will this be the year the "Iziane Effect" goes away?
Best of '10: The opener in San Antonio, where the Dream won 75-70. She scored 23 points with 9-for-18 shooting and had four steals for the Dream.
Worst of '10: The very next game after that - typical Iziane. Against Indiana, she only scored 5 points and was 0-for-5 from the 3-point line.
5. Armintie Price: A real surprise of 2009. After a mid-season trade to the Dream in 2009, Price seems to have recovered some of her confidence - being reunited with her old college coach Carol Ross didn't hurt. I don't think she'll ever be a consistent starter, but she'll be an adequate role player.
Best of '10: A 14-point game during our win against Indiana. That could have been a 20 point game with a little more luck. Price might be one of the best finishers in the WNBA.
Worst of '10: Against the Mystics she only had two points on 1-for-6 shooting.
6. Kelly Miller: The Dream moved up to Miller from Miller Light. When the Dream need the kind of offense that Lehning can't bring, they go to Kelly Miller. Miller's assist-to-turnover ratio isn't as good as Lehning's though, so she'll be playing behind Lehning for the time being - the name of the game is to get the ball to the Big Four.
Best of '10: Our 96-93 road win in Phoenix. She scored 10 points and two assists in just 17 minutes of play. She was 2-for-4 from the 3-point arc.
Worst of '10: The opener against San Antonio. She only played six minutes and had three turnovers.
7. Alison Bales: If Bales doesn't win Sixth Woman, she might win a Most Improved Player award. After a year off, Bales figured out a way to extend her career another year. If she keeps playing like this, she'll extend it another year.
Best of '10: The home win against Indiana where Bales had six blocked shots.
Worst of '10: Bales had no points and no blocks in the game against Washington and was at the bottom of raw plus/minus with -10.
8. Shalee Lehning: Many people who are Dream fans have strong opinions about Lehning. Should she be starting on the Dream? I don't think she scores enough and from point blank she can't shoot at all. However, all she's asked to do is to push the ball into the post and she does it well - Lehning usually leads in that classic stat assists/turnovers. If she learned how to shoot she'd be dangerous, but without that teams will be tempted to leave Lehning unguarded when she has the ball.
Best of '10: The win against Connecticut was the classing Lehning game. Zero points...ten assists.
Worst of '10: She was schooled in Seattle and Kelly Miller had to pick up the slack.
9. Yelena Leuchanka: Leuchanka's return to the WNBA hasn't exactly been the second coming of Lisa Leslie, but she's been effective in spots.
Best of '10: She had eight points in 15 minutes against Seattle. Her +6 in raw plus/minus was a bright point during a night full of minuses.
Worst of '10: Her debut against the Connecticut Sun. 0-for-3 shooting, zero points and 3 personal fouls.
10. Coco Miller: Maybe with the arrival of Kelly Miller Coco has figured that she doesn't have to produce. If her game doesn't pick up her only value to the Dream is going to be strictly promotional.
Best of '10: She had five points in just four minutes of play during that awful 80-70 loss against Chicago.
Worst of '10: The Phoenix game was the opposite of that. She shot 0-for-3 and only played four minutes.
11. Brittainey Raven: She won't get better unless she plays. And with so many good players on the Dream, she'll never get any minutes - Coco Miller is the only player with fewer minutes per game than Raven, and she's playing better than Raven.
Best of '10: She scored six points in garbage time against Seattle.
Worst of '10: Hard to pick one because she's played so little. Only two minutes played in Washington, made a shot, and missed it.