The strange 2012 season limps on for the Atlanta Dream. The return from the Olympic break was supposed to be a return to normalcy with Erika de Souza back and nothing seeming to inhibit eccentric superstar Angel McCoughtry from playing a full thirty-plus minutes for the remainder.
However, keeping consistent with the strange season, McCoughtry has mysteriously been reluctant to play, claiming the need to "get myself together" after her Olympic tour (a unique request in contrast with the other Olympic participants across the league). Of course marshmallow head coach/general manager Marynell Meadors has allowed McCoughtry to rest as much as she wishes without repercussions. Despite the auspicious start to the second half, the Dream are 3-2 since the break and remain in third place in the East at 12-12.
The Dream spent the offseason acquiring a seemingly strong bench with players like center Yelena Leuchanka and versatile forward Catherine Kraayeveld, yet most of the new additions have shown only dim flashes of good play mired by plenty of lackluster performances. The only consistent player to step forward off the bench has been the rookie Tiffany Hayes.
The rookie guard out of the University of Connecticut had a solid collegiate career averaging 11.7 ppg after four full years, yet she still slipped into the second round of the 2012 WNBA draft where the Dream used their first pick on her. With the Dream in possession of their two starting guards all year (Lindsey Harding and Arminite Price) there didn't seem to be a whole lot of playing time left for Hayes in 2012.
With the recent hijinks of McCoughtry, Hayes has found herself logging thirty-plus minutes in her last three games. With the forward position open, both Hayes and Price have been occupying the role of McCoughtry with general success. Even against the league's best team Hayes was able to penetrate the Minnesota Lynx's stalwart defense in Saturday, August 25's game contributing her share of successful drives into the paint accumulating 12 points. Sancho Lyttle aside, Hayes is the only Dream player consistently sinking double-digit points with eight in her last nine games.
While Hayes didn't exactly come out of nowhere being a part of some of the best UConn squads ever, for some reason the hype didn't follow her into the draft. The Dream benefited coming away with a first round caliber talent despite not having a first round pick in 2012. If the Dream do end up on top in 2012 Hayes still probably won't become a household name among WNBA fans, but Dream fans following this tumultuous season will know that the Dream couldn't have done it without their second round pick Tiffany Hayes.
As a resident of the southeast, Charles McGregor has been a fan of the Dream since their inception.