Her experience, along with advice and mentorship from some WNBA greats including Cheryl Reeve, Ann Donovan and Brian Agler, led her to progressing to the highest rung of the coaching ladder with the Dream.
“I think my experience counts,” Wright said. “I played for 16 years in the WNBA, so I have a wealth of experience. That matters for something.”
The Dream announced the hiring of Wright on Tuesday morning, and she became the franchise’s fifth full-time head coach. She joins the Dream after a turbulent 2021 season which ended with an 11th-place finish in the league, with an 8-24 record, multiple interim head coaches after the departure of Nicki Collen and plenty of off-the-court issues raising questions around the organization.
Wright, however, immediately brings potential for continuity to an organization that has made that a priority under a new ownership group led by Larry Gottesdiener and former Dream guard Renee Montgomery. She is the second major hire in recent weeks, following the addition of Morgan Shaw Parker as the franchise’s president.
The statuses of former interim coach Darius Taylor — who could fill another role in the organization — and his assistants LaKeisha Frett and Daynia La-Force are unknown.
“Words cannot express how excited I am for a rising talent like Tanisha to join the Dream,” Montgomery said in a release. “Tanisha is widely respected across the league, and as with all great leaders, she will set a strong example for our team.”
Wright and all parties around the Dream are aware that the organization is in the midst of a full-on rebuild. There are plenty of changes that the Dream want to make from a culture standpoint and leadership standpoint while continuing their initiatives for social justice and making them a priority.
The Dream struggled to exhibit those qualities in 2021 after former fourth-overall selection Chennedy Carter faced a suspension for conduct issues July 4 and did not return. The Dream struggled to build chemistry throughout the season, which led to numerous dry spells. Over recent weeks, a video circulated around the internet of Dream players Courtney Williams and Crystal Bradford, soon-to-be free agents, getting into a fight. Multiple reports said Williams and Bradford are not expected to return to the organization.
There are plenty of challenges that the Dream face. There’s no brisk timetable for a solution, either, but Wright played for organizations, she said, in Seattle, New York and Minnesota with a top-notch culture and can pull from those experiences.
“There’s an opportunity to get in at the ground level, so of course that’s exciting. I can really put my own imprint on it,” Wright said. “I can have an influence on the type of organization and culture we can build and the types of people we want this organization to be surrounded with.”
Wright is in the midst of her move to the Southeast after recently leaving Las Vegas. She will arrive in Atlanta “sooner rather than later,” and will place her priority on building a strong culture. That might involve building relationships with ownership and potential staff members who hold the same ideas and values of accountability and integrity.
Wright is aware, though, that the Dream have more overhauling they must do. Four players — Aari McDonald, Cheyenne Parker, Tianna Hawkins and Carter — are under contract for the 2022 season. The rest are free agents.
“It’s all part of the game. That’s going to be an exciting time, but we’ve also got plenty of time before that happens,” Wright said. “Free agency doesn’t start until January, so it’s not an immediate priority right now. The most immediate thing is getting in to meet people and establish that culture.”