The Atlanta DreamBy Collin Kelley, Editor

The Atlanta Dream tips off its third season this spring at Philips Arena, with the home opener slated for May 16 against the Indiana Fever at 7 p.m.

The Women’s Nationa Basketball Association team has new players and is ready to hit the court, according to head coach/general manager Marynell Meadors, after a trip to the playoffs last season.

“Most of the team is returning and we’re signing contracts,” Meadors said in mid-February.

The Dream is hoping to building on its 18 wins last season, by adding some Olympic muscle to its roster, most notably with Yelena Leuchanka.

Leuchanka, a 6’5” center, was the leading scorer for Belarus in the 2008 Olympic Games.  She currently competes in EuroLeague for the Turkish team Galatasaray Instanbul, where she averages 10.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Leuchanka finished 10th in the voting for the FIBA Europe Women’s Player of the Year award for 2008.

The first Belarusian player to play in the WNBA, Leuchanka played two seasons in the league from 2006 – 2007 for the Charlotte Sting and Washington Mystics.

“Yelena gives us great depth in the post area,” Meadors said. “She’s a physical player with the ability to post up or shoot the midrange jumper. I have been fortunate to watch her over the years and she just keeps getting better. She’s going to be a very good player in the WNBA.”

Another star is Angel McCoughtry, The Dream’s number one draft pick in 2009. The record-breaker is playing in the 2010 FIBA World Championship and is widely expected to be on the 2012 Olympic team.

Meadors said the team loves to play basketball and it shows. “They play true team basketball and try to help each other be successful,” she said.

Meadors said those who are season ticket holders and those who’ve never been to a game can expect to be entertained this season. Fans will also have many opportunities to interact with the players, who love to talk and sign autographs. Team members will also be out in the community working with students, giving clinics and visiting schools.

“This is basketball at the highest level,” Meadors said. “People have fun at the games, so come down and get entertained.”

To purchase tickets and find out more about the players and upcoming season, visit www.wnba.com/dream.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.