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Women's Hoops Blog

Jayda Evans covers college and pro women's basketball. While its her first year on the Washington beat, she has covered the Storm since its inception. She'll offer observations, critiques, occasional off-beat tales and answers to select e-mail inquires. Evans also has written a book on the Storm and women's hoops, called "Game On!"

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September 13, 2008 2:59 PM

Dream experienced nightmare

Posted by Jayda Evans

Atlanta had a 35-minute team meeting in the KeyArena visitor's locker room after it lost to the Storm on Friday. It was predictable end-of-season wrap-up stuff before going through exit interviews -- some happening on the flight home this morning.

Listening to the players talk about the season was rough after the game.

"I haven't lost this many games since seventh grade," said G/F Ann Strother, a former University of Connecticut standout. The Dream finished at 4-30, earning the dubious honor of having the worst record in WNBA history. Chicago was 5-29 in their 2006 inaugural season.

It made me think of the miserable first season the Storm went through, finishing 6-26 in 2000 when the WNBA had 16 teams. But something was different from what the Dream experienced. Atlanta never had a consistent training facility, wasn't allowed to use the Hawks' weight room, since the Dream is independently owned, and had to deal with losing in an established league.

The youth of the team, aside from G Betty Lennox, 31, also seemed to make a difference in how the players looked at the season. Seattle, with veteran players like Sonja Henning, Kamila Vodichkova and Edna Campbell, seemed to understand there was a bigger picture. When you're young and have grown up watching the WNBA, as some of the Dream players did, it seemed the expectations were higher and reality was a bitter pill that turned the players off to the game all together.

"It was a nightmare [season]," said co-captain Jennifer Lacy, a second-year forward.

And the Dream may not have the turnaround Chicago did, especially since there isn't a Sylvia Fowles waiting in the wings. Oklahoma senior Courtney Paris is close to that caliber, the Atlanta roster is loaded with centers full of potential.

The rough intro to the WNBA and how it wears on the players is why I think the league should ease up on expansion, despite talks of adding two more teams. Houston is floundering and Atlanta needs work. The WNBA would be best served strengthening these two teams and putting a solid product out that players want to be a part of, rather than thinning out the talent and making youngsters who don't quite get "the cause" to stomach the worst stretch of basketball they've played in their careers.

Somebody has to lose, and expansion teams never do well in their first season, but does losing to an opponent's bench to cap a 4-30 season really help the WNBA? And do you really think that makes international players like Erika DeSouza (Brazil), Iziane Castro Marques (Brazil), and Chioma Nnamaka (Sweden) want to return?

"Yeah, [they seemed deflated], but that's probably every game for them," said Storm forward Camille Little. She was traded by Atlanta for a draft pick to Seattle in June and is starting in place of the injured Lauren Jackson (ankle). "They played really well. I think in certain points of the game, they may get a little fatigued. It's tough for them this year and hopefully they'll make some changes and move some things around and work it out for themselves."

On a positive note, Lennox said she received notification from the league that her image has been loaned out for a new Wii basketball videogame. More details are to come, but Lennox joins guard Sue Bird as Storm connections all you gamers can play.

"I'm so excited," Lennox said. "I'm going to buy it for my nieces and nephews and say, 'Here, play your auntie!'"

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