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Olympic Gold Medalist Angel McCoughtry will drive the Dream in the East.
NBAE/Getty Images

Season Outlook

Atlanta's WNBA franchise may choose to look at the first half of the 2012 season as, well, a bad dream.

After making two straight WNBA Finals appearances in 2010 and 2011, the Dream had a groggy 9-10 start to 2012, which can primarily be attributed to a pair of factors: 1) the absence of superlative pivot presence Erika de Souza, who was away on Brazilian National Team duty and 2) the nagging injuries slowing down gunner and team leader Angel McCoughtry.

Luckily for Atlanta, like all bad dreams, the first half of the season came to an end. And now, with McCoughtry coming back to the squad with a gold medal and a renewed confidence in her already impressive arsenal -- not to mention de Souza's return to the Dream after her own Olympic sojourn -- the new day's looking bright in Atlanta.

McCoughtry told NBA TV's GameTime that her London experiences will pay dividends in the second half of 2012.

"I've learned more from those girls [Team USA teammates] in three weeks, than I've learned in my whole career. It took my game to another level," said McCoughtry, who came off the bench to provide a crucial spark to Team USA in London. "I got to get back to the team, adjust with them. We got Erika de Souza coming back, she was with the Brazilian National Team, so we will be a lot better team. Got to get back and hop back on the train. I just love to play basketball, I just love to play."

The spectre of McCoughtry -- the WNBA's leading scorer and the driving force behind Atlanta's two straight Eastern Conference titles -- returning to the league with even more passion and at an increased level of efficiency, may give Eastern Conference foes nightmares heading into the second half of 2012.

Player to Watch

de Souza
Barring injury or some other unforeseen circumstance, McCoughtry will be McCoughtry for the Dream, so the player to watch for the rest of 2012 will be Erika de Souza, the formidable post presence who averaged 16 points per game for Brazil in London.

de Souza's return to Atlanta's lineup should provide more balance to the offensive flow, all the while injecting tenacity, length and muscle to the defensive end.

"I�m really excited to come back," said de Souza to "It was tough in Brazil, we were working so hard. I�m sure we are going to work hard here too and we are going to get the results. I didn�t come back here to just be the conference champion; I came here to be the champion of the WNBA."

Jim Reilly,

2nd Half Opener

Aug. 17 at Chicago, 8:30 p.m. ET
Aug. 22 vs Chicago 7 p.m. ET - Tickets

2012 Leaders

PPGAngel McCoughtry22.6
RPGSancho Lyttle7.7
APGLindsey Harding4.1
SPGAngel McCoughtry3.15
BPGAngel McCoughtry1.31

2012 Team Stats

Team Record 9-10
Points Scored77.31 (7th)
Points Allowed 76.05 (7th)
Field-Goal Percentage.424 (6th)
Opponents� FG% .414 (10th)

Advanced Stat

1-4: The Dream's record in games when McCoughtry takes 19 or more shots in 2012. They're 6-2 in all the other games in which McCoughtry's played this year.