Shaping A New Dream: Inside Training Camp
- By Erica Littles, AtlantaDream.net -

ATLANTA, May 21, 2009— As training camps officially opened around the league on Sunday, May 17, the Atlanta Dream settled into their new home at the team’s official practice facility, Suwanee Sports Academy. Three weeks before the first season opener, NEW is the look for the Dream. The two-year-old team has new faces on the team, new lessons to learn, and new relationships to be formed.

The new look of the team is reflective of changes across the league during the off-season which promises an intense training camp and deep talent pool. According to WNBA.com, the modifications include a later regular season start to accommodate players on international teams, a shorter but more productive preseason (three weeks instead of four), and a reduction from thirteen to eleven players on each team’s roster. These transformations should make for an exciting new season.

It’s a season that players are ready to get started: “Everybody wants to play,” exclaimed forward Sancho Lyttle. “Everybody is ready to play.”

For the anxious players, teams and fans, the season opener is Saturday, June 6, but first things first: training camp. Day one began with introductions and player orientation. The new players were challenged by Coach Meadors who stressed the areas that need improvement and those that are on point.

“I need to work on staying low when I go to the basket and finishing strong,” said number one overall draft pick, Angel McCoughtry. “My strong points are my pull up shot. I can pull up over basically anybody but I need to learn to stay low on the handle and get quicker going to the basket.”

As some players evaluate how their playing style compliments the new team, others identify how change is needed to make the team successful.

“There are going to be some changes but as athletes you have to know how to adjust to any circumstances,” said Lyttle, who joined the Dream in the Comets Dispersal Draft. “Because it’s so fresh and new, it probably won’t take as long as people would think, but you definitely have to change a lot of things that you have learned from different people.”

The intensity level was noticeably higher on Day 2 of camp as lessons were transferred to the live situations on the court. With only five returners (Castro Marques, De Souza, Lacy, Latta, Young), the majority of the Dream roster consists of new faces. All were eager to learn from Coach Meadors and the rest of the Dream coaching staff.

“She is very laid back and soft spoken,” said McCoughtry on Meadors. “I really like her style. She lets other coaches coach as well and she knows the game. I think she is going to let us play and get on us when we don’t follow through, because that is what coaches are supposed to do. I’m glad to be here and I’m glad she chose me.”

And as training camp goes on, players anticipate the start of regular season play, so three weeks of practice is just enough for some players.

“We all get tired of training camp,” Lyttle said. “We have to be running and keep doing things that we just want to do against another team.”

The goal every night is to win, but the goals of the players vary as do their backgrounds. Comments range from definitely winning more games than last season to “winning this WNBA championship in the second year of the franchise,” McCoughtry says with a smile.