Posts Tagged ‘ Atlanta Dream ’

Part 1: Another WNBA installment of “Did you know?”

August 5, 2011 2:37pm
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Part 1 of 2

We did a segment earlier this season where we shared some interesting statistics on the WNBA. We wanted to re-visit this idea and find some new interesting statistics and tidbits for each of the league’s 12 teams. Here’s is Part 1 of “Did you Know?”

Atlanta Dream: The Dream are the league’s 2nd fastest team ahead of San Antonio and Minnesota and behind Phoenix. What is interesting is that generally the faster they play, the worst they do.  In their 5 fastest games, all played with at least 86 possessions, the Dream are 1-4, -9 point differential. In their 5 slowest games all played at less than 79 possessions, the Dream are 4-1 with a +8 point differential.

Chicago Sky: Much has been said about the horrid 4th quarter performance by Chicago as they scored 1 point in the entire quarter to lose at New York by 10 on Thursday. While their 4th quarter efficiency was certainly the worst this season for a single quarter (if not the worst ever, which I think it was) their efficiency for the entire game was only the 2nd worst offensive output of the year.  Seattle’s 74-50 loss to the Sparks, in the 1st week of the season, takes the cake. While Tulsa has come close many times, they never dipped below a 70 efficiency.

Connecticut Sun: I tend to think of the Sun as very balanced and deep. While that might be true, Tina Charles and Renee Montgomery have each come up with big single game performances this season. Charles has recorded a 31 point game, a 23 rebound game which is 5 higher than anyone this season, including 15 and 14 rebound performances, and 5 block game. Meanwhile her teammate on the perimeter Montgomery, has recorded a team high 33 point game which included 6 3-pointers, a 10 assist game, and a 5 steal game.

Los Angeles Sparks: It is assumed that Candace Parker is really, really good. Possibly the best women’s player in the world. The Sparks only played the first 6 games (6.5 as she was injured in their game at New York) with her in the lineup. With her in the lineup LA went over 110 offensive efficiency in 3 of their 1st 6 games and held their opponents under 100 in 3 of their first 6 games. Since then that New York game, without Parker in the lineup LA has gone over 110 only once in 12 games, and held opponents to less than 100 in only 2 of 12 games.

Minnesota Lynx: Taj McWilliams-Franklin was the only Minnesota starter to not make the All-Star team, which might automatically designate her the most underrated player in the league. She leads Minnesota with 15.8 net plus/minus rating and has been crucial to the success of this Lynx team. While she isn’t lighting up the scoreboard, her veteran leadership and understanding of where to be on the floor is exhibited by her 3rd best net plus/minus in the league.

Washington Mystics: The Mystics might be suffering through a difficult season, but at least they know who they are, and attempt to play to their strengths. Relying on their front line of Langhorne and Anosike, with not much bench to speak of, Washington has played at the slowest tempo in the league. They also crash the boards as they have the 3rd most second chance points which in part explains why they have taken the 2nd most shots from the 1-5 feet.

In part 2, we will look at the remaining 6 teams in the WNBA.

The Atlanta Dream are slowly finding their identity

July 20, 2011 1:45pm
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They were the consensus preseason favorite to win the Eastern conference. They added all-star PG Lindsey Harding, the supposed missing piece. They were coming off their 2010 WNBA Finals run. This was supposed to be the year it would finally come together for coach Meadors and the Atlanta Dream. On paper they had it all.

In reality, the Dream came into the season banged up and lacking a true team element. They have arguably one of the most talented rosters in the league, but are now only finding their identity.

Today Atlanta defeated the Mystics 86-79, lead by Angel McCoughtry’s season-high 33 points. One of the biggest reasons for the Dream’s slow start has been Angel’s injured knee which has kept her from playing at a 100%. After some time off with their recent schedule, it appears Angel and Atlanta have started to turn the corner. After the win against Indiana, McCoughtry said, “The team did great.  We have really come into our own.  We’re playing with great chemistry.  We’re moving the ball well and sharing it.  Everyone is out there playing well together.  It’s good to see our growth and we want to continue to grow and get better as a team.”

The player with possibly the most pressure has been Harding, whose offseason move to Atlanta was among the most talked about. After struggling to find her role as the point guard of a new team, Harding has been one of the reasons for Atlanta’s current 3-game win streak.  After the win over the Fever, coach Meadors said, “Lindsey played really awesome.  She controlled the game, the pace of the game. Even though we had a lot of fast breaks, she was leading in a lot of those situations.  And she distributed the ball really well to her teammates.”

Atlanta has been improving their play on the defensive end which has turned into more fast-break opportunities for a Dream team that likes getting out on the break. “We’re able to score off our defense and get layups.  I think if we can continue to play that aggressive defensively, than we can run and score off our defense. That’s the difference,” said coach Meadors.

With Atlanta still waiting on Sancho Lyttle to make a return, the Dream still have an entire 2nd-half of the season to live up to their preseason hype. I think this team still has time to be the darling of the Eastern conference that so many people made them out to be before this season started.

 

WNBA Weekend in Review

July 18, 2011 9:34am
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The 2011 season is moving along quickly as the All-Star game is this Saturday. After tonight’s game between San Antonio and Los Angeles, every team will have played between 13 and 15 games.  Besides probably Tulsa, every team still has a legitimate shot at a playoff spot.

Going streaking:

The Phoenix Mercury head into their re-match against the Minnesota Lynx with their league leading 6-game win streak on the line and first place in the Western Conference.  Last game saw the Mercury storm back in the closing minutes to take a 112-105 victory, in the highest scoring game of the season.

The Tulsa Shock have now lost a league leading 9 games in a row. After leading the Sparks for most of Friday’s game, Tulsa couldn’t generate the necessary scoring chances once the Sparks stopped turning the ball over. The Shock will have a chance to re-group as they don’t play again until Tuesday after the All-Star break, hosting the Atlanta Dream.

There’s no place like home:

After a short 1-2 road trip, and two double-digit losses, the Connecticut Sun returned home to the comfy confines of the Mohegan Sun and defeated the Indiana Fever on Sunday. The Sun are undefeated at home, at a perfect 6-0.

Meanwhile the Seattle Storm finish up three game road trip tomorrow at Chicago before heading home. The Storm now stand at 2-5 on the road with their two wins coming against Tulsa and a Mystics team that was missing Crystal Langhorne. Seattle is coming off two road losses including a 69-62 defeat to Minnesota on Saturday.

The bottom of the Eastern Conference:

Although the Washington Mystics are 6 games behind Eastern Conference leading Indiana, they only trail 4th place Chicago by 3 games and have more than half a season left to play.  The Mystics showed lots of resolve in their overtime win over the Sparks, where they mounted the 2nd biggest comeback in WNBA history. Even in the last of their 5 game road trip, and a season full of injuries, Washington showed they should not be forgotten yet.

Just above Washington is the preseason conference favorite Atlanta Dream. Atlanta has been possibly the biggest disappointment this season, but put together their best effort on Saturday. Even playing without Sancho Lyttle, Atlanta looked like the team many pundits believed we would see before the season.

Atlanta’s malaise

June 26, 2011 4:28pm
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The Atlanta Dream entered the 2011 WNBA season with championship aspirations. However, they are currently in last place in the Eastern Conference as of June 26 (latest loss coming at the hands of the red-hot San Antonio Silver Stars). The Dream have had its biggest issues in the backcourt, with starters Lindsey Harding (6.25 efficiency rating; 35% shooting from field) and Iziane Castro Marques (5.50 efficiency rating; 33% from field) both playing poorly. The continued absence of Sancho Lyttle (in Poland competing with the Spanish national team) has forced back-ups Sandora Irvin and Alison Bales into starting roles, where both have done rather poorly. On top of that, league superstar Angel McCoughtry has gotten off to a slow start this season due to injury and an undefined role. Head coach Marynell Meadors has to feel as though she woke up in the Twilight Zole because this is certainly not what she expected when she assembled this roster.

Part 1: Thoughts and stats through the first two weeks of the WNBA season

June 20, 2011 5:35pm
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PART 1 of 2

We are now over two weeks into the WNBA season, with each team having played at least 4 games. Here is our quick take and a look at some of the underlying stats for each team.

 

Atlanta: The Dream, the consensus preseason pick for Eastern conference champions stand at 1-5, staring up at every team in the East. They have had a tough start to the season with an injured Angel McCoughtry and Sancho Lyttle leaving to Spain.

Did you know: The net plus/minus for the Dream’s point guards (thru June 14th only): Harding (-23.0) Lehning (+22.1)

 

Chicago: The Sky can already see a brighter future on the horizon with Coach Pokey Chatman now in charge and a positive 3-2 start. Top draft pick PG Courtney Vandersloot has already played her way into the starting lineup where I expect she’ll remain for the duration of season.

Did you know: The Chicago Sky have been your most “average” team through their first 5 games. They statistically fall just above or below average in just about every category, including possessions, offensive and defensive efficiency, points for and against, TO% and FTA %.

 

Connecticut: The Sun have come out blazing hot this season, helped in part by a healthy Ajsha Jones and the newly named player of the week Tina Charles. Even without Kara Lawson, the Sun were able to get a big road win at Washington last week, as victories away from the Mohegan Sun have been tough to come by in the past two seasons.

Did you know: The Sun have done the best job in the league at keeping the ball on offense which in turn leads to field goal and free throw attempts. They have only turned the ball over 16.4% of the time.

 

Indiana: The Fever are in the midst of a tough road trip losing at Seattle, and losing at Phoenix in overtime. Indiana also lost Katie Douglas for most of the Phoenix  game as she went down with an injury in the 1st quarter.

Did you know: The Fever lead the league at getting to the line. The shoot free throws on over 28% of their possessions.

 

Los Angeles: The Sparks are healthy and deep this season as Candace Parker and Co. have raced out to an impressive 3-1 start. Their strong start is even more impressive as they have defeated the two Western conference finalists from a season ago in Phoenix and Seattle and given league leading  Minnesota (5 wins) it’s only loss of the season.

Did you know: The Sparks’ scoring has been very balanced. They currently have 4 players averaging double figures and another two with at least 7 pts/game.

 

Minnesota: What a difference a year makes for the Lynx. Getting back key players healthy in Augustus and Wiggins, a veteran addition in Taj McWilliams-Franklin, and the top pick overall in Maya Moore have led the Lynx to a league high 5 wins through their first six games.

Did you know: The Lynx starting five boasts the best net plus/minus in the league as well as the highest individual net plus/minus player in McWilliams-Franklin. (thru June 14th)

 

Sancho Lyttle to participate in Eurobasket

June 17, 2011 4:30pm
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According to blogger Richard Cohen, Sancho Lyttle is already in Poland preparing for the 2011 Eurobasket tournament with the Spanish national team. The 6-4 star PF is expected to miss at least six games for the Dream. During that stretch, the Dream will play Minnesota twice, New York, Chicago, Phoenix, and San Antonio. Other than Phoenix (0-2), every other team is at 0.500 or better on the season

Defending Eastern and Western Conference champions not impressive thus far

June 10, 2011 7:10am
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After the first week of the season, the Atlanta Dream and Seattle Storm have one win combined between them (a 78-71 win for Seattle over the visiting Phoenix Mercury). The Atlanta Dream, with superstar SF Angel McCoughtry, have dropped their first two games of the 2011 season (both home games), the latest defeat coming in OT against the Washington Mystics on national TV. The Seattle Storm, meanwhile, took one on the chin at the hands of the Minnesota Lynx, a game in which they had to climb out of a 24-point hole and did not score until there were two minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Though neither team looks sharp at the moment, one has to keep in mind that the season is barely a week old and most teams are still evaluating personnel for rotation spots or trying to get healthy following the bumps and bruises suffered during training camp.

New York @ Atlanta, 3pm EST

June 5, 2011 8:20am
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An Eastern Conference Finals rematch will take place this afternoon, as the Atlanta Dream begin defense of their EC crown against the new-look New York Liberty. Both teams made personnel moves this past offseason, but it’s Atlanta’s acquisition that has everyone talking possible championship. Lindsey Harding, one of the WNBA’s better point guards, serves as a major upgrade at the point guard position over previous opening day Dream PGs in that she is able to flatten out the defense in transition and either score or pass, can score in a half court setting, and defends her position well.

By contrast, New York lost both Taj McWilliams-Franklin (Minnesota) and Janel McCarville (taking summer off) from last year’s team and did not replace either with proven talent. Head coach John Whisenant will have to rely on a young bench made up mostly of cast-offs and 2011 WNBA Draft afterthoughts.

Tip-off for today’s game is at 3pm EST.

Weekend Preseason Recap

May 30, 2011 2:15pm
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Saturday, May 28th:

The Los Angeles Sparks defeated the Phoenix Mercury 83-72, in a preseason game played at The Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Sparks started the game well, leading 26-13 after the first quarter. “I’m very pleased with my team tonight” said Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom, “I thought the energy was there, the aggressiveness was there, and tonight told me a lot.”

This game concludes the Sparks preseason, as they open up at home Friday, against the Minnesota Lynx at Staples Center. Phoenix travels to Seattle to face the defending champions on June 4th.

Sunday, May 29th:

The Atlanta Dream defeated  Great Britain 82-51, in the Dream’s only preseason game played in Manchester, England and the WNBA’s first game in Europe.

From James Bowman at Swish Appeal, “Coco Miller got off to a hot start in the first quarter, scoring seven of the first nine points for Atlanta and scoring 11 total first-quarter points.  (She would finish with 10-for-12 shooting and score 21 points.)  The Dream went to a double-digit lead early in the first quarter and never looked back.”

In the 3rd preseason game of the weekend the Seattle Storm defeated the Tulsa Shock 76-71.

After missing the game against Los Angeles, both Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird returned to the starting lineup as Seattle raced out to a 24-6 1st quarter lead and 45-25 halftime lead.

2nd overall pick Liz Cambage let her emotions get the best of her.  ”I was so nervous,” she said. “The first quarter I was so sick and had to run back and get it out of my system. But even getting off the plane yesterday, I was just so nervous going into training.”

Some additional thoughts from Jayda Evans’s in-game thread can be found here.

To the point, Part 6 (Atlanta Dream)

May 30, 2011 8:23am
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How does a WNBA Finalist significantly improve its roster? By adding one of the best point guads in the WNBA to an already explosive offensive attack. Lindsey Harding, who is in her fifth season in the WNBA, will quarterback the Dream’s offense this season. Though Harding will be the Dream’s fourth Opening Day starting PG, she is undoubtedly considered to be the best out of that group. Harding’s ability to put the defense back on its heels in transition (athleticism), her ability to penetrate in the half-court setting, her playmaking ability on defense, and her ability to distribute makes her a tough player to contain and gives the Dream a major boost on both sides of the court this season. In an offseason where most Eastern Conference teams seemed to take a step backwards (new head coaches for three of the six teams and major shake-ups at PG for at least three teams and as many as five teams), Atlanta emerges as the clear favorite to win the East during the regular season and playoffs.

That said, Atlanta does have other options at the point in the extremely unlikely case that Harding can’t get the job done. Last year’s regular season starter, Shalee Lehning, and last year’s playoff starter, Coco Miller, return to the Dream this season. James Bowman of Swish Appeal does a fine job of first determining whether Harding is an upgrade over Lehning (she is) and to what extent. To the surprise of no one, it is believed that Harding will start at the point with Lehning backing her up (and Miller serving as the emergency third-string PG).

Injury Report