Unlike Christopher Columbus bringing religion to the North American natives by sword and fire, the Atlanta Dream's arrival in Manchester for a game against the Great Britain Women's Team was no act of conquest. Indeed, most of the heavy guns had been left at home. Angel McCoughtry was nursing a sprained knee. Erika de Souza was taking care of personal matters in Brazil. Sancho Lyttle and Iziane Castro Marques were unlikely to play, making it much more of a fair fight. But in the end, the second unit of the Atlanta Dream faced little opposition from the British as the Dream prevailed 82-51 in the WNBA's first game in Europe.
Okay. It was an exhibition game, and only nine players on the Dream roster saw any action. Aside from last year's players, Sandora Irwin got to start for the Dream and Lindsey Harding made her debut as the starting point guard. Other players not from last year's roster that saw action were Shannon McCallum (Charlotte) and Felicia Chester (DePaul). Every player got at least 12 minutes of time, so everyone playing got a good look.
The British acquitted themselves. They looked pretty much like a good mid-major college team. They didn't play like a third-world country vaguely aware of the rudiments of basketball. Many of their players had experience with American universities or in European pro ball. However, that wasn't good enough against a team like the Dream - it wasn't good enough even against the Dream's bench - and the brief 2-0 lead on Kim Butler's opening basket was the only lead the British were ever going to know.
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.
The second quarter was a horrible mess, where the Dream only scored 11 points and the British only scored seven. Brittainey Raven missed a couple of shots, and the refs were quick to invoke the European definitions of traveling it seemed despite only one of the three refs being British. The Great Britain Women turned the ball over 16 times in the first half, and by the time they calmed down in the second half Atlanta was working with a 20 point lead. By the final quarter, the lead was 30 points and it became a very difficult game to watch.
Part of Britain's problem was their defense, or rather, their lack of it. Most of Atlanta's shots during the game were jumpers. The game was lacking in slashing moves to the rim (except on breakaways) and shots weren't contested at anything close to the WNBA level, the level where you can take your life into your own hands in a battle against WNBA post players. At one part in the third quarter it seemed like the Great Britain Women had just given up, unable to deal with the speed and intensity level of WNBA players.
A brief breakdown of the box score:
By quarter: 26-12, 11-7, 24-15, 19-17. The Dream won every quarter.
Effective field goal percentage: Dream 50.8 percent, Great Britain Women 42.5 percent. The Dream shot almost 50 percent from inside the arc.
Turnovers: Dream 11, Great Britain Women 25. It's hard to win when you keep giving away the ball.
Offensive rebound percentage: Dream 34.2 percent, Great Britain Women 20.6 percent. The Brits led at one time late in the second quarter in overall rebounds - the Dream were missing Lyttle and de Souza after all - but according to the game announcers Atlanta just wore them out.
Free throws: Atlanta 10-for-11, Great Britain Women 4-for-5. Atlanta's victory was complete in all aspects.
Coco Miller: 21 points on 10-for-12 shooting with five rebounds. Wow.
Lindsey Harding: 11 points on 5-for-13 shooting. Five assists, two turnovers, two steals. She wasn't spectacular, but she was serviceable.
Sandora Irvin: 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting. Eight rebounds, two blocked shots. A good game for Irvin and she'll probably hold the fort until Lyttle gets back.
Shalee Lehning: 8 points. Lehning was 3-for-6 from the floor.
Armintie Price: 8 points. Price wasn't "Half-Price" at the free throw line, hitting 4-for-5.
Brittainey Raven: 7 points, but her missed shots were horrible choices. "Hurl it towards the basket and pray."
Alison Bales: 6 points: Looked good in the post. Bales and Kim Butler fought a running battle in the post during the opening minutes of the third quarter; Bales had more tools.
Felicia Chester: 6 points on 1-for-5 shooting. At least two of those four missed shots were gimmies, whereas no one could have hit those missed shots that Raven took. Which would you rather have, a player who has a horrible shot selection, or a player who has a good selection and can't make them?
Shannon McCallum: 5 points. The forgotten player.
Great Britain Women
Kim Butler: 12 points on 6-for-14 shooting. Five rebounds. Butler played for Oregon State.
Julie Page: 10 points, but five turnovers. Played for Eastern Washington.
Jo Leedham: injured. Did not play, which is a pity, as Leedham is considered British basketball's next phenom. Leedham played for Division II Frankin Pierce in the United States.