Game Preview: Tulsa at Atlanta
Location: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Ga.
Game Notes: Atlanta I Tulsa
The Atlanta Dream takes on the Tulsa Shock in the season opener for both teams. The Dream returns four starters from last year’s team that finished 19-15 and reached the WNBA playoffs for a fourth consecutive season. Tulsa finished 9-25 a year ago, but has optimism for the upcoming season with a revamped roster.
Atlanta’s returning starters are led by Angel McCoughtry, who won her first league scoring title last season averaging 21.4 points per game. For the fifth year in a row, the Dream frontcourt will include former All-Stars Sancho Lyttle and Erika de Souza, and Armintie Herrington returns on the wing for the Dream. Second-year standouts Tiffany Hayes and Aneika Henry return as well.
For Tulsa, rookie guard Skylar Diggins has been touted as one of the league’s “3 to See” from the rookie class, as the four-time All-American from Notre Dame should provide an instant spark for the Shock. In addition, All-Star center Liz Cambage returns for the 2013 season after the Australian center missed all of 2012 due to her commitment to the Australian Olympic team. Guard Candice Wiggins and forward Nicole Powell are two more newcomers that should have an impact.
Atlanta and Tulsa have played six times since the Shock relocated from Detroit prior to the 2010 season. Atlanta won the first five of those games, but Tulsa snapped the streak by winning the last meeting.
Tulsa spoiled Fred Williams’ debut as head coach of the Dream, stealing an 84-80 win in the teams’ last regular-season meeting on Aug. 28, 2012. Roneeka Hodges scored 20 points and Temeka Johnson had 17 to lead the Shock, while Erika de Souza had 16 points and Sancho Lyttle added 14 for Atlanta, which played the game without Angel McCoughtry. The Dream led 51-44 at the halftime break, but a 23-11 advantage for Tulsa in the third quarter proved to be the difference, as the Dream never led again. The two teams also played a preseason game on May 9 in Tulsa, with the Dream winning 72-58 behind 18 points from Courtney Clements.
• The Dream is 2-3 all-time in season openers, and 3-2 in home openers.
• The Dream returns players who accounted for 1,906 of the team’s 2,672 points last season (71.3 percent)
• The Dream roster includes three rookies – Alex Bentley, Anne Marie Armstrong and Courtney Clements
• In addition to the rookies, other newcomers include guard Jasmine Thomas and forward Le’Coe Willingham
• With the addition of assistant coach Julie Plank, the Dream’s three coaches have more than three-quarters of a century of coaching experience
• Armintie Herrington enters the game having played in 113 consecutive games – just 14 shy of the team record