Sometimes in basketball; there are a litany of tangible things that you point towards as to why a team won: Star players dominating, an offensive explosion, great defense or a team just being clearly more talented than their opponent.
However, in a game between two equal opponents with the Atlanta Dream (3-4) and San Antonio Silver Stars (2-4); there would be one intangible force that propelled the Dream to its 60-57 victory.The Dream have been going through some growing pains this year as they don't have one of their top players in Ericka de Souza -- she's playing with her National Team and won't be back until after the Olympics. And besides Sancho Lyttle, they don't have much experience on their front line.
"Everybody has to understand that we've got a very young post game right now," said Atlanta Dream coach Marynell Meadors. "The only one that has experience with us is Sancho [Lyttle]; the rest of them are new."
So it's not really all that shocking that Atlanta has been working out some kinks early on this season with a (3-4) record. But yesterday, the Dream showed that growing pains can be beneficial with a little bit of "perseverance."
Perseverance is defined as, "steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement." On Friday, San Antonio made it their mission to discourage Dream superstar Angel McCoughtry who ended the game with 16 points and was visibly upset in the locker room post game. The Silver Stars were so entrenched into that game plan that head coach Dan Hughes got ejected early in the second quarter on what he believed was a bad foul call.
"I didn't swear at the official," said Hughes. "I didn't do anything that I'm ashamed of."
So with San Antonio being able hold one of the WNBA's brightest stars to a below average night, one would surmise that they their probability of winning was pretty high. However, the mental fortitude and resolve of the Dream would snatch victory out of the hands of their opponent.
"I thought we struggled a little bit offensively," said Dream coach Marynell Meadors "But we just persevered and we found a way to win. In the last three or four minutes of the game, I thought we played excellent defense. We just went after loose balls, we got really key rebounds, and we got a couple of blocked shots.
"You look at those and wonder think which one of them was the game changer. I don't know which one was but they all pulled together to help us win."
There were two noticeable changes in the second half for the Dream: Lindsey Harding and rebounding, which both could be attributed to steadfastness.
The Dream controlled the rebounds as they ended the game with an 11 rebound (39-28) advantage over the Silver Stars. And Harding just seemed resolute in her will to be more assertive and to help her team to finish the game strong. Harding scored on an array of explosive drives to the basket and pull-ups as she constantly attacked the basket from every angle. Harding had only attempted one field in the first half for two points and yet ended the game with 14 points.
"I'm happy that we were able to persevere and push through to get the win," said Harding. "I think the past couple of games have come to the last three or four minutes. And I think we learned from that.
"I thought the first half I played a little bit passive [and] I probably shot the ball once or twice if that. And I was like I'm not a factor and so I just wanted to be aggressive because they were double and triple teaming Angel."
One thing about perseverance is that when people commit to it, good things usually transpire as was the case for the Dream.
"It felt really good," said Meadors. "We've lost a couple of games because we didn't close it out. Maybe we learned from our mistakes earlier but I just think that the will to win was right there on that court tonight."