The Dream opened their 2011 season on Sunday against the New York Liberty with expectations after reaching the WNBA Finals last season. However, the Dream was playing without star forward Angel McCoughtry and New York came away with a 94-88 win in overtime at Philips Arena.
“To not have her in the lineup certainly hurts us,” Dream head coach Marynell Meadors told the AJC after the game. “It takes 25 to 30 points out and the defensive things she does and steals she gets, it affects the rest of the team.”
The Dream had its chances to win, taking the lead twice late in the fourth quarter. But New York’s Sidney Spencer hit a baseline jumper with less than a second remaining to tie the game at 79. New York then outscored the Dream in overtime 15-9.
Were a few reasons the Dream lost to the Liberty. The first has to be McCoughtry, because she is the key player that makes everything go. Iziane Castro Marques and Sancho Lyttle were able to pick up some of the slack, as they scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, but McCoughtry can give the Dream 25-30 points a night and she is also a solid defensive player.
Having McCoughtry out of the lineup could have affected point guard Lindsey Harding. Harding, who was acquired on draft day, committed three turnovers and scored two points with one assist in the first half. She was able to have a solid second half, scoring nine points with eight assists and committing only one turnover.
The Dream looked to bounce back on Thursday when they took on the Washington Mystics, but results were not available at press time. Their next game will be on Saturday when they face the San Antonio Silver Stars in their first road game of the season.
ACROSS THE POND …
Before the Dream began the season, they played their one and only preseason game against the Great Britain women’s team in Manchester, England. The Dream won the game 82-51, and also became the first team in WNBA history to play a game in Europe.
The team was there for five days and not only did they play their only preseason game, there were to hold clinics teach the people of Great Britain the game of basketball.
“They really just enjoy the art of the game,” McCoughtry said to the AJC before the team went on the trip. “It’s not about gender. I wish it was more like that over here, not about gender.”
Despite losing to Seattle in the WNBA Finals last season, the Dream are a hot pick to return to the championships again. That was one of the reasons they were chosen to go to Great Britain and be ambassadors for the WNBA. Another reason was that the popularity of the team has risen, as season ticket sales increased by 30 percent compared to last year, which led the league.
NEWS AND NOTES …
McCoughrty had to miss the preseason game in Great Britain and the season opener against New York because she sprained her knee in training camp. This was something new for McCoughtry because she has never been sidelined in here WNBA career due to an injury. As of Tuesday, she was listed as day-to-day.
In response to the injury to McCoughtry, the Dream signed guard Kelly Mazzante and waived guard Brittainey Raven. Mazzante has been in the WNBA for six years and has helped the Phoenix Mercury win a WNBA title in 2007. Mazzante was originally drafted by the Charlotte Sting in 2004 and played three seasons in Charlotte before heading to Phoenix. Mazzante was with the New York Liberty last year and was a member of the San Antonio Silver Stars this season, but was waived before the Silver Stars first regular season game.
“Kelly is the type of player that can step up and contribute right away,” Meadors said. “It was a difficult decision to let Brittainey go, but I am excited about what Kelly brings to our team. She is a veteran leader and an outside scoring threat that can stretch the defense.”