Who: The Atlanta Dream travel across the Atlantic to face The Standard Life Great Britain Women’s basketball team.
When: Noon EST - NBA TV
Where: The Manchester Evening News Arena (MEN)
What: Game summary - Dream beat Great Britain 82-51 in first WNBA game in Europe
The story: The Standard Life GB Women, who will be making their first Olympic appearance in 2012 when London hosts the Summer Games, hope that 2010 Connecticut Sun draft pick Johanna Leedham will be ready to play after recovering from a knee injury.
- The "nightmare" of suffering a career-ending injury was only worsened by the fact that it would have also derailed Leedham's aspirations to represent her country in the 2012 Olympics after she had already put her WNBA dreams on hold to focus on helping her country. Leedham, who Alec Doyle of the Chester Chronicle described as "one of the best female basketball players" Great Britain has ever produced, hopes to make her comeback against the Dream.
Jessica Lantz spoke to Leedham last year about just how much her national team and preparing for 2012 meant to her.
The Unlikely Journey of Johannah Leedham - Swish Appeal
As the national team prepares to play the 2012 Olympics in their own backyard of London, Leedham will have some tough and exciting choices to work through. Now that she’s been drafted, it is time for her, the Sun and the Great Britain national team coaches to find a symbiotic way for her to play the game she loves for not only her country, but for her WNBA organization.
"This summer is really, really important for my national team with the Olympics coming up and stuff like that," said Leedham. "This summer is actually really crucial for us to have a great summer as a team . . . obviously both [the Sun and Team GB are] really important to me, both of them are great opportunities. I don’t know."
- 6-foot-6 University of Maryland center Yemi Oyefuwa is another Team GB player recovering from injury, according to MVP magazine.
For the Dream, the game will be point guard Lindsey Harding's (inter)national television debut with the Atlanta Dream after demanding a trade from the Washington Mystics this WNBA off-season. James Bowman described why she should probably be considered the favorite to start over incumbent point guard Shalee Lehning. Based on an interview with the Daily Mirror blog, Lehning appears to welcome the challenge as part of the team improving.
Countdown to WNBA Live - Manchester 2011: Shalee Lehning interview - Basketball - Mirror Sport - Mirror.co.uk
That's our goal! Being so close last year and losing...we learned a lot and we grew a lot tasting success for the first time, but we fell shirt. It was wonderful for us and we were very young - none of us had any finals experience. We've added an all-star in Lindsey; a point guard who can help us take the next step towards the title.
The Daily Mirror has dedicated ample effort toward previewing the event over the past few weeks:
Countdown to WNBA Live - Manchester 2011: Dream date for Wonderland - Basketball - Mirror Sport - Mirror.co.uk
"WNBA Live - Manchester 2011 is a further example of the NBA's commitment to growing the game of basketball here in the UK," said Sophie Goldschmidt, Senior Vice President, NBA Europe, "Wonderland performing at half time of our game will add excitement to the in-arena experience for what will be a great day out for all."