It’s been a while, Dream fans. With the Olympic Break, news has been sparse and my job has been pretty boring, but Atlanta returned to practice this week. Finally we can talk basketball again! And the last time we spoke, there was plenty to talk about. There was the 3-24 record, the Lennox-Meadors “disagreement,” and a locker room that looked like it was ready to explode with frustration from losing.
Clearly, the Olympic Break couldn’t have come at a better time, and now the Dream say that they are trying to put the last four months behind them and finish the season strong starting on Aug. 29 when they return to the court to face the Connecticut Sun.
The break gave many players the chance to take some much needed time off from the grind of the WNBA season. Betty Lennox spent her break further south and also spent time at home in Oklahoma.
“I went to Orlando, had fun and relaxed,” she said. “I got a lot off my mind. Overall, [the break] was great.”
Meanwhile, Ivory Latta had a chance to do one of the things she loves most, spend time with her family. Latta had a chance to be with her nephew for the first time on his birthday.
“I threw him a ‘Sweet Five’ party,” she said. “We had Spider-man there and a water-gun fight. I also cooked out a couple of times with my mother.”
And much like the rest of the team, the break served Latta well.
“Sometimes you just get mentally drained from the season and it’s good to get that time off and go home and be with your family,” she said.
Latta also spent time watching the Olympics, especially enjoying the legendary Team USA comeback led by Jason Lezak on the final leg of the 4×100 relay in swimming.
“I’m really not a swimming fan, but I was up jumping and screaming ‘go boy go!’” said Latta.
There were many reasons for the 0-17 start. One of them was that the team was not together during training camp with many top players finishing out their seasons in Europe. One of those players was Lennox. She arrived to training camp late after finishing her season with a Russian club team.
“The first day of training camp everyone wasn’t here,” she said. “Now that we have everyone we definitely see a difference and it’s definitely good to see everyone here playing together like training camp.”
The team spent a lot of practice running and working on fitness, and finished the practice working on their half-court offense.
“I think we came back focused,” said Latta. “We’ve got seven games left and we need to win as many as possible.”
In other news, Erika DeSouza ended up staying in the U.S. and not traveling to Beijing to support the Brazilian National Team. She looked good in practice and continued to show that element of toughness that the team has missed all season. On one play she collided with a teammate going for a loose ball, and let’s just say it wasn’t DeSouza who got the worst of it.
With the offseason beckoning, discussions regarding personnel for next season have already begun. Many of us who have watched this team, including myself, have speculated that perhaps a number of players won’t be back after this season. But there’s at least one player who wants to stay.
“I would love to be here in Atlanta,” said Latta. “They just show so much love to women’s basketball. I love this crowd here. When we go to other places, we look at their crowd and we’re like, ‘man, we can’t wait to get back to Atlanta.’”
While she wouldn’t expand on whether she’s already had discussions with the organization about next year, it seemed quite clear she doesn’t want to leave.
“It’s all about how everything falls out and getting an opportunity,” she said. “I really love this place and I wouldn’t trade this for the world. I love the coaching staff, teammates, everybody. I can really see myself here.”
Betty Lennox’s tirade directed at head coach Marynell Meadors after the July 25 loss to Washington appears to be a non-issue, at least for now. Lennox insisted that she’s put everything behind her.
“I’m rejuvenated and there’s nothing to be talked about, she said. “That was then and this is now.”
Whether the tension between Lennox and Meadors has completely dissipated remains to be seen. But she assured me that she was ready to move on.
“This is a new chapter right here, right now,” she said. “I’m just trying to stay positive and be the best teammate I can.”
It’s good to be back. I will be speaking Coach Meadors extensively on Friday (poor coach is going to have to deal with me for 30 minutes or so), so if you have any questions you’d like me to ask, drop me a line and I’ll be sure to include it. Don’t hesitate to contact me, I want to hear what you fans out there think!
Bagriansky can be reached at email@example.com.