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Dream drop Liberty; Angel McCoughtry hurts knee

Just the Facts, Ma'am: The Atlanta Dream turned on the afterburners in the third quarter to lead by as much as 23 in a preseason win over the New York Liberty. Angel McCoughtry and Erica Wheeler each had 13 to lead Atlanta, while Érika de Souza added 12 points and 10 rebounds. Tina Charles led the Liberty with 12 points. For reversals, troubling injuries, enthusiasm, missed shots, so very many players, defensive energy, cool shirts, cool hair, and too many kids, join your intrepid and clammy blogger after the jump.

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Hello, gentle readers! Wow, that came out too enthusiastic. I hate mornings. I hate Camp Day games. And yet I was at the Garden for Camp Day versus Atlanta in the preseason. I love my team. I may disagree strongly with their management decisions, but they're still my team, and I have to love them or there will be nothing left to love.

To the kids in section 108: knock it off with the thundersticks already. It's a half hour before the game. My head already hurts.

Matee Ajavon, it is not cool of you to blow off all autograph seekers, especially the one in the Rutgers tank top. Erica Wheeler signed for her.

I forgot how hard it was to get Liberty autographs at Liberty games. And Swin Cash still eludes us all.

Flopping in a biddy game? For serious? Shame, because the fast breaks are actually pretty good. (And no, young lady in the headscarf, neither team is the Liberty.)

Substitute announcer. I think it's the Seton Hall guy. I wanted to hear how Mike W. did the names for the newcomers.

Oh, hey, cool, another kids' game. Though this one's going to have to be pretty fast if they want to get the players on the court on time. Atlanta just came out, and Shoni Schimmel's face, even nine rows away, is pretty fantastically WTF. And Sancho Lyttle will not be denied. She wants her basketballs! They came on before the kids had finished clearing the floor.

I still do not approve of the "Strike It Up"/"Turn Down For What" mash-up, but I am a stick in the mud and I want all these kids to get off my lawn.

At halftime, Atlanta is up 44-39, but that's mostly on free throw shooting. I love what I'm seeing from the newcomers for the Liberty, especially Rebecca Allen, Kiah Stokes, and Brittany Boyd. The energy is fantastic. For Atlanta, I've been very impressed by Sequoia Holmes and Erica Wheeler. Wheeler really, really wants a W job. (That being said, running full speed into Bill Laimbeer is not a recipe for long-term health.)

Scary moment near the end of the first half- Nadia Colhado got into a collision with Rebecca Allen and a Dream player, and rolled around on the floor holding the top of her head. But she's back out for warmups, so it must not have been as bad as we thought.

Candice Wiggins is rocking blue and orange hair. I'll let it go, but I'd prefer the seafoam green. I know a lot of players prefer the NBA connection, or at least the appearance of an NBA connection, but we wear black and seafoam. Also, who wants to be affiliated with the Knicks right now?

So things fell apart a little in the second half, but I don't think it's as big a concern for the Liberty as you might think from looking at the splits or even watching the game. Laimbeer seemed to be feeling out his players (not feeling up, that's Isiah's job {yes, this will probably be the first of many inappropriate jokes about Isiah Thomas until such time as he takes a long walk off a short pier}), his rotations, and who can run what plays with whom. Cooper got into that more in the second half, once they'd established the big lead early in the third quarter.

So many players, so little time, but we'll see how many of them left anything resembling an impression.

Matee Ajavon seems to be back up to speed and snarl. I think she picked the defense up a little. Samantha Logic got in very late and had some nice passes, including the prettiest play of the game, a sweet assist to Erica Wheeler for three. Sequoia Holmes didn't make a statistical impact, but I give points to a player who has the court awareness to at least try and get her team to stop play while a teammate is hurt.

Ify Ibekwe mixed it up on the glass. Aneika Henry was solid on the boards (you might notice a theme here) and set tough, not always legal, screens. Martha Alwal is tall, but that's the only impression that she left. Roneeka Hodges doesn't have the shot she used to. Nadia Colhado works really well with Érika de Souza on the boards- she was mixing it up on the offensive boards and taking advantage of balls that were not fully possessed.

There was one sequence where she and de Souza were going back and forth rebounding the misses. She has to finish at the rim, though. But the biggest and most pleasant surprise off the Atlanta bench was Erica Wheeler, who seems to have studied the road map that Michelle Campbell wrote.

She shot well, though perhaps more often than she would in the regular season, and played fantastic on-ball defense on our rookie point guards. I'd keep her if I was Atlanta.

Sancho Lyttle still has those quick hands. Do not pass a ball anywhere near her unless you play for the Atlanta Dream, because she will jump that lane and take that ball. She seems to have taken her offense out to the perimeter for good.

Érika de Souza is a load down low and went hard to the rack whenever she had the opportunity. The rim robbed her twice; I'm honestly surprised she missed as many shots as the box score would indicate, and I'm using the ESPN box score, so it's not that WNBA.com is broken again. Angel McCoughtry was her styling, acrobatic self, at least when she played, but there will be more on that.

Shoni Schimmel fired up some shots late, but overall didn't look great, nor did she look like she was thinking about getting into game shape. Tiffany Hayes did a nice job of drawing contact going through the lane, and it's really annoying when she hits threes.

The biggest concern for Atlanta right now: in the second half, McCoughtry abruptly pulled up short as if cramping, dropped to the floor, rolled to the sidelines, and was helped up putting no weight on her left knee. They took her back to the locker room briefly. She came back out, but didn't play (by the time she was back out there was only about 4:30 left in the game, and Atlanta was up big). She didn't come out to the handshake line, and she left on crutches.

On to New York. Amber Orrange should not make this team. Harsh, but she doesn't have the WNBA vision or the WNBA handle to make it in the league. Maybe if she plays overseas for a couple of years she'll be ready to try again. I saw nothing positive out of her. I did like Chelsea Hopkins's passing eye- she and Essence Carson hooked up for two late beauties- but her handle leaves something to be desired.

WNBA guards will not give you a chance to get the ball back under control. Sugar Rodgers committed dumb fouls but somehow found ways to get the ball in the basket. Sugar is high-risk, high-reward, and has always been. I don't know if she's worth investing in. I like Shanece McKinney's hustle, and I like the work she puts in, but I don't think she has the talent to cut it.

She will push her teammates, but in the pros, is that enough to keep her on the roster? Candice Wiggins's shot fell consistently short. Ominous. (Also, if you have bright, multi-colored hair, do not put yourself in a position where an official can decide to call a foul on you. You are easy to spot that way.) Avery Warley-Talbert hit the boards well, but she has to finish. She absolutely has to finish.

She missed at least two easy shots right at the rim, and she had trouble with free throws. Rebecca Allen made a really good impression. I love her slashing ability, and she seems to have range. Her shot wasn't falling until fairly late, but that's a risk you take. She brings other things to the table. Brittany Boyd has solid vision, but she's still learning the speed of the game, and what plays she can and can't make against WNBA competition.

I love her eye on the boards- you hear about it, but it doesn't click until you see it. Carolyn Swords falls down an awful lot. She clears space well down low, and she can be a useful player for us, but I'm worried about her durability. If she can stay healthy (and upright), she shows flashes of being similar to Sue Wicks.

And no, that is not because she's blonde and, er, oh dear, how to put this... looks older than her years, at least in profile (please don't kill me please don't kill me). I didn't realize how many rebounds she came up with until I looked at the box score.

Kind of worried a little bit about Swin Cash. She really didn't bring much of anything today. She was okay defensively, maybe a little better than okay, but that was it. Essence Carson found her shooting mojo late in the game. I think she's still finding her way back.

She seems to be shifting back to the two instead of the three, which I've long felt is where she belongs. Tanisha Wright ran a solid point, and I liked watching her on defense. Tina Charles was mighty pretty on offense, going to the hole and finishing, but I worry about her lack of rebounding.

Then again, that might just have been because Kiah Stokes grabbed all the rebounds. I'm on the bandwagon now. I like the way she plays, I like the way she gets work done down low, and I like how she fits with this team. Tiny thing I liked most about Kiah today: she made a huge, crowd-firing block into the third row... and as she saw it go out of bounds, she scowled, as if infuriated that she hadn't kept it in play.

Officiating was mostly solid. Tiara Cruse was feeling her oats early on, but then Bill yelled at Denise Brooks.

Shoutout to the kid who customized his school-issued green t-shirt into a Neymar jersey.

There's still work to be done, and I'm not anointing us Eastern Conference champions yet, but I like this team more than I've liked squads in the last few years. There's promise and camaraderie. The energy, especially in the second quarter, doesn't come through in the statistics, but it was there, almost tangible.

It's good to be home.