Dream moving forward

Though disappointed in their team’s crushing exit in the first round of the WNBA playoffs, general manager Angela Taylor and coach Michael Cooper still see good things ahead for the Dream.

After finishing atop the Eastern Conference with a 19-15 record, the Dream were eliminated by Chicago in the first round of the playoffs, 2-1. The Dream were outscored 30-13 in the decisive fourth quarter of the third game and lost by one point.

To make the postseason in 2015 for the seventh time in the team’s eighth season will require keeping the nucleus of the squad together, as well as finding a few key parts to support the bench.

“I think we have a great foundation,” Cooper said.

Taylor said re-signing free-agent center Erika de Souza is the No. 1 priority in the offseason. De Souza averaged a career-high 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds during the regular season.

“She had a tremendous year … and is widely recognized as one of the top post players, not only in the Eastern Conference but in the WNBA,” Taylor said. “For us to continue moving in the direction we want to go … Erika is a large part of our core.”

Another piece of the nucleus, Sancho Lyttle, agreed to a multiyear deal in August. Lyttle was named to the league’s all-defensive team for the fifth time after averaging nine rebounds and 2.2 steals per game.

Angel McCoughtry, who led team in scoring with 18.5 points per game, already has a multiyear contract.

Cooper said he thought the Dream’s big three played too many minutes this season. De Souza averaged the fewest of the trio, but still played 29.9 minutes per game.

Cooper and Taylor would like to add a physical power forward or center to help de Souza. They also would like to attend a perimeter shooter or defender at guard or small forward to supplement McCoughtry and provide some strategy flexibility, and a point guard who can penetrate the free-throw lane.

Cooper said that wish list doesn’t reflect any dissatisfaction with the current roster, which includes guards Tiffany Hayes, Shoni Schimmel, Celine Dumerc and Jasmine Thomas and center Aneika Henry. The team has four other free agents: Matee Ajavon, who averaged 2.2 points per game, DeLisha Milton-Jones, who played in two games for the Dream, and reserves Amanda Thompson and Nadia Colhado.

Cooper said if not for his injury (tongue cancer), he thinks the team’s outcome may have been different. The Dream was 15-6 before July 21, when Cooper left for 10 days for treatment. The team was 2-5 while Cooper was out and 2-4 in the regular season’s final games.

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