The Atlanta Dream is a member of the 12 team Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), playing in the Eastern Conference. Since being founded in 2008, they have made six playoff appearances. Of those six, they have reached the WNBA Finals three times. The only problem, they have been swept in each series (0-9). In 2014, Michael Cooper becomes the head coach, and the new slogan was “Run with the Dream”. Apparently it worked, because this was the first time they had the best record in the East. However, they would lose in the Conference Semifinals to the Chicago Sky (1-2). Last season, they finished fifth out of six in the East, not making the playoffs. It was the worst finish and record since the team’s inception. Maybe it was due to the new slogan they adopted, “Live It”. Based off the team’s performance, the fans were more “Livid” than anything.
This season, the first thing the Dream did was scrap the “Live It” slogan and bring back the “Run with the Dream” slogan. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Returning to the winning slogan, enforces what coach Cooper is trying to do – run. When he played with the Los Angeles Lakers, he was a member of “Showtime”. It was a fast paced, up-tempo brand of basketball. This philosophy was demonstrated in this season’s WNBA Draft. The Dream had three of the top 16 overall selections, and the 28th pick in the third round. They drafted guard Bria Holmes from West Virginia with the 11th pick. The 13th pick was center Rachel Hollivay from Rutgers. Guard Courtney Walker was selected 16th from Texas A&M. The final selection was guard Niya Johnson from Baylor at 28th.
Holmes was a 6’1” scoring machine at West Virginia. She was the first player to score more than 500 points three consecutive years. She was a three-time unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection. She is the leading active scorer in Big 12 history. Hollivay is the all-time leader in blocked shots at Rutgers standing 6’4” tall. She was named to the Big 10 All-Defensive Team. She blocked 112 shots her senior year, which was top five in the nation. Don’t let Walker’s 5’8” size fool you. She was a three-time All-SEC First Team pick. She leaves Texas A&M as the leader in points scored. She has made seven go-ahead/game tying shots in the last minute of regulation or overtime in her career, including three game-winners. Johnson also stands 5’8” but led Baylor and the Big 12 with career assists. She is top five all-time in Division I career assists. In her last three seasons, she was ranked #1 or #2 in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Coach Cooper said: “I think that this is an exceptional draft class for us. It is a class that really solves all of our needs. We needed a backup wing, a backup center and we needed some scoring off the bench. I think that with these players here, along with a good point guard in Niya Johnson, we solved a lot of problems.” This translates to, run with the starters and then run some more with the reserves. This season you won’t need special sneakers, just a few dollars to come out and Run with the Dream.