Getting out of the gate slowly is nothing new to the Dream.
Last season, the team started 3-9 before it pulled together to win the Eastern Conference and make it to the WNBA finals for the second consecutive season. And if the Dream want to play for a WNBA title this season, they will again have to overcome a sluggish start, as they fell to 2-4 after a 79-74 road loss to the New York Liberty on Tuesday.
But no one on the team is pushing the panic button — not yet, anyway.
“It’s worrisome, but it’s too early in the season to start panicking,” forward Sancho Lyttle said. “We’re what, 2-4? It’s too early to be panicking. We’ve got almost 30 more games to go, so we can’t be keeping our heads down, because it’s not like the next game is the difference between us [making or not making] the playoffs.”
Guard Lindsey Harding echoed Lyttle’s sentiment.
“Nothing to worry about,” she said of the team’s record. “The teams that do the best this early are the teams that get chemistry very quickly. I’m not saying that we don’t have it, but we do have a lot new faces, a lot of new rotations.”
Dream coach Marynell Meadors said that Harding hit the nail on the head, and that the sub-.500 record is in large part because the team works in new players and experiments with different substitution patterns. Meadors also felt the team could use the confidence it gained overcoming last season’s rough start to put together a similar run this year.
“We were talking about that the other night in New York, and to me, we’re getting better every game,” she said. “We just need to play harder. Getting to the finals last year was very difficult because we started 3-9, and that’s a big thing to overcome, but I think the players have confidence in each other and they know that we can win some games coming up.”
All rookies have a learning curve when they enter the professional ranks, some with a steeper curve than others. And according to Meadors, rookie forward Aneika Henry has improved by leaps and bounds since the beginning of the season.
“She’s like night and day,” Meadors said. “She came in very inexperienced, and I’m really proud of her because she has worked exceptionally hard to get where she is today. In New York I thought it paid off.”
Though her play against the Liberty was not enough to give the team a victory, Henry still put up a career-high 14 points with her 6-of-7 shooting performance from the field. One good game does not have Henry thinking too highly of herself, though. She knows she has not reached the same comfort level as her teammates, who know the team’s game plan inside and out.
“These girls have been playing together for years, and I just got here,” she said. “It’s like I’m a little behind understanding their rhythm and I don’t feel like I’m there yet, but I’ll be there.”
Meadors said that leading scorer Angel McCoughtry’s left knee “is getting stronger every single day.” She had her first double-double of the season Tuesday, scoring 21 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. ... Yelena Leuchanka’s right leg is being taped, but Meadors said that the forward “is not 100 percent” yet. ... Other than the face mask “being a distraction to her,” Meadors said that Tiffany Hayes’ broken nose is fine.
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