Game Preview: Dream vs. Silver Stars (06/18/08)

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The Atlanta Dream (0-10) and the San Antonio Silver Stars (6-4) face off on Wednesday, June 18. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 PM at Philips Arena. This is the first ever matchup between the two teams. Tonight’s game will be televised on CSS.

Guard Iziane Castro Marques is back in action tonight for the Dream, after missing five games while helping Brazil qualify for the 2008 Olympics. Castro Marques saw six minutes of action in Monday’s loss to the Houston Comets. Prior to leaving for Brazil, Castro Marques started every game for Atlanta, averaging 10.3 points, 1.8 steals and 1.5 assists per game.

The Dream have been led by veteran guard Betty Lennox, who is coming off a 29-point performance against the Houston Comets. Point guard Ivory Latta has increased her offensive production, helping take some of the pressure off Lennox in the backcourt. Latta scored a career-high 21 points in her most recent game on 5-9 shooting from the field. Since being inserted into the starting lineup on May 27 against the Washington Mystics, Latta has scored in double figures in all but one game.

San Antonio is coming off a trip to the Western Conference Finals last season. The Silver Stars have a good mix of veteran players and talented youth, and could be a dangerous team this year. The team is led by four-time All Star Becky Hammon. Entering her tenth season in the league, Hammon is coming off the best year of her career in 2007, where she averaged 18.8 points and five assists per game. Forward Sophia Young is off to the best start of her career and has helped take the pressure off Hammon.

The acquisition of center Ann Wauters has also given the Silver Stars a lift, providing a strong presence in the post. Wauters is back in the league after a two-year hiatus in which she focused on her career overseas in an effort to help Belgium qualify for the 2008 Olympics. Wauters is a former teammate of Hammon with the New York Liberty and the two also played together overseas. The Silver Stars are playing without three-point specialist Shanna Crossley, who will miss the season after tearing her ACL.

Atlanta and San Antonio already have a history, despite having never played each other. Atlanta picked up center Chantelle Anderson during the 2008 WNBA Expansion draft, before eventually waiving her after Anderson suffered an ACL tear while playing overseas. During the 2008 WNBA Draft, the two teams worked out a major trade which brought Camille Little and Chioma Nnamaka to Atlanta in exchange for Ann Wauters and Morenike Atunrase.

The Dream’s next home game will be Sunday, June 22 against the Detroit Shock. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:00 P< at Philips Arena.