Commentary

Dream down 0-2, McCoughtry fumes

McCoughtry complains about physical play; Williams notes foul shot discrepancy

Originally Published: October 8, 2013
By Michelle Smith | espnW.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- When Angel McCoughtry collided hard with Lindsay Whalen under the Atlanta basket Tuesday night, drawing her sixth foul and going to the bench for good with 3:54 left in the game, it was clear frustration drove her to her seat.

Understandable. Her Atlanta Dream were down by 20 points at that moment. The things Atlanta did in Game 2 to try to make things different had no net effect on the final outcome, Minnesota winning 88-63 for its second straight 25-point victory and a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five WNBA Finals.

But McCoughtry wasn't through expressing her frustration. After the game, in the Atlanta locker room, McCoughtry vented.

"I feel like I played football, not basketball," McCoughtry said. "I mean, the game should be respected better than that. We are two teams and we are going to fight until the end, we are all going to play hard. But there's a difference, you know?"

[+] EnlargeAngel McCoughtry
Hannah Foslien/Getty ImagesOne of Williams' first orders of business as coach of the Dream: to suspend Angel McCoughtry to get her on board with team goals. It worked.

McCoughtry, who finished with 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting, called Minnesota a "great team."

"We compliment them. They won. They beat us fair and square," McCoughtry said.

But she clearly took issue with what she felt was excessively physical play by the Lynx and, in particular, Maya Moore.

"The whole pulling me down on the fast break, all that crap, it's not needed," McCoughtry said. "I really hurt my elbow when Maya pulled me down on that play. I feel like it wasn't needed. We don't play that way. We are going to play hard and we are going to play scrappy, but we aren't going to pull you down and hurt you. I just felt like I deserve a little more respect than that."

McCoughtry's right elbow was wrapped in ice.

Moore had no comment on McCoughtry's comments outside of the Minnesota locker room.

When asked earlier whether she thought McCoughtry, the leading scorer in the WNBA regular season and Moore's teammate on the U.S. Olympic team, was frustrated in the game, Moore responded, "We hope so."

The whole pulling me down on the fast break, all that crap, it's not needed. I really hurt my elbow when Maya [Moore] pulled me down on that play. … We are going to play hard and we are going to play scrappy, but we aren't going to pull you down and hurt you. I just felt like I deserve a little more respect than that.

-- Angel McCoughtry

"That was our goal," Moore said. "She's a great scorer and to get their best player frustrated is our goal. … Just making it hard on her on defense, attacking her on the other end."

McCoughtry's complaints about the physical play followed in line with Atlanta coach Fred Williams' attempt to walk the line in talking about lost opportunities for his team to go to the free-throw line.

The Dream shot 35.8 percent from the field, and were 12-of-19 from the line. Minnesota, meanwhile, shot a WNBA Finals-record 56.9 percent from the field and hit 22-of-31 from the line.

"We came out and tried to battle. We fought hard, went for loose balls, tried to scrap and go to the rim a great deal and we came up empty," Williams said. "In those situations in the first half, it really set the tone for Minnesota and for ourselves, but we tried to attack and go in."

Asked about some of his own team's difficult shooting percentages, particularly McCoughtry's, Williams attempted diplomacy.

"To be honest with you, I've never seen a great athlete go through two or three players and come up empty on something. I thought [Atlanta guard Tiffany] Hayes was the same way," Williams said. "I don't know what to tell them. Pull up for jump shots? Stop challenging? They are known as slashers and players who get to the basket.

"For me, I'll keep it clean right now, but I don't know what else to say. I think when we come up empty on some drives, it puts us on our heels on defense, and Minnesota knows that."

[+] EnlargeAneika Henry
Greg Smith/USA TODAY SportsThe Dream started with a bigger lineup, but 6-foot-4 Aneika Henry attempted just four shots and had seven points and six boards.

The fact is that Atlanta had many more deficiencies than inequities at the foul line. The Dream were outrebounded by a 40-22 margin and didn't do nearly enough to stop Minnesota's offensive flow.

The Dream made a lineup change to start the game, inserting Aneika Henry in lieu of Hayes, trying to go bigger to counter Minnesota inside.

"I felt like we could go with a bigger lineup," Williams said. "I thought it was where we needed to go."

But the Lynx still owned the paint (42-26) and the boards.

It was difficult for Atlanta to make any headway against the Lynx's phalanx of offensive talent, all five starters scoring in double figures, led by Seimone Augustus' 20 points.

"They got great shooters, I'll tell you that," Williams said.

Williams was asked whether his star player, who can be volatile and emotional, was getting frustrated.

"I think she's got it in hand," he said. "I would think she would be a little frustrated because of some of the things she doesn't get to do in penetrating to the basket. … We have another game and we have to regroup, and she knows that. She's a little frustrated, yes. But she's not to the point where she is going to let it all go or get loose. She is going to stay under control and do the right things."

At this point, the Dream can only hope a change of scenery -- this series moves Thursday to the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga. -- produces a change in fortunes.

"We've got to get back and regroup ourselves and prepare," Williams said. "For us, there's really no panic mode on this team. …  It's our turn to go home and see what happens from there. We just gotta play and keep playing hard."

Michelle Smith

Contributor, espnW.com

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