Midseason Review: Lessons Learned
By Lauren Harper-- July 12, 2010

Half a WNBA regular season has come and gone. During that time, the Dream has rattled off some pretty impressive basketball. Perched at the top of the Eastern Conference, Atlanta undoubtedly picked up a few things during 18 games. In turn, the Dream revealed their M.O. as well.

There's no cooking like home cooking
Maybe it’s the power of Gladys and Ron’s Chicken and Waffles or the comfort of sleeping in their own beds, but the Dream step it up on their home turf at Philips Arena. Atlanta is 8-2 at home, both losses hard-fought contests against the Chicago Sky. Atlanta plays six of its eight final regular-season games at home, a solid chance to rack up wins and enter the postseason full steam ahead.

Defense is a habit
At the All-Star break, the Dream leads the league in rebounds at 40.05 a game, holding a +6.53 edge over opponents. Atlanta also ranks fourth in both blocks and steals, and has only allowed 100+ points once, in a win over Connecticut. Player-wise, the Dream boasts one of the best inside tandems in Erika de Souza (8.60 rpg) and Sancho Lyttle (10.6 rpg). Both women are in the top ten in rebounding and rank second and third, respectively, in double-doubles. If one or both of these two is having anything resembling a good game, challengers are in for a long night indeed.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
As a team barely leaving infancy, the Dream is still carving out a legacy. This is, however, rapidly changing as veteran teams recognize just how big of a punch the Dream packs.

“I used to think the Mercury was probably one of the best running teams, but now I think the Atlanta Dream has definitely taken over that spot,” said Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom after an LA loss to Atlanta.

Tulsa head coach Nolan Richardson also called Angel McCoughtry one of the league’s “premier players" after the Dream rolled over the Shock in a June 23 victory.

Such praise from other team coaches marks the Dream as legitimate playoff contenders.

Another mark of high regard came from the fans and coaches who voted three Dream players to the Stars at the Sun All-Star matchup last week. Angel McCoughtry suited up for Team USA while Sancho Lyttle and Izi Castro Marques were named to the WNBA squad. McCoughtry’s spot on Team USA for the exhibition game could cement her place during the World Championships in September, and eventually, the Olympics.