— Geno Auriemma (@genoauriemma) August 27, 2012
Monday afternoon Connecticut and U.S. senior national team coach Geno Auriemma broke the news via Twitter that the Atlanta Dream fired head coach and general manager Marynell Meadors.
Today is also the birthday of the former Dream coach who was one of Auriemma’s assistants during the 2012 Summer Olympics. The team promoted assistant coach Fred Williams to the head coach/GM position. He was an assistant for four years. Meadors was in her fifth year with the team and led them to three straight playoff appearances and two straight WNBA Finals.
“Coach Williams bring a wealth of experience, a strong sense of teamwork, and demonstrated commitment to the role of head coach and general manager,” said Atlanta Dream co-owners Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler. “We have tremendous respect for her contribution to this sport and wish Coach Meadors the very best in her future endeavors.”
The dismissal came after a week or so of turmoil for the Dream surrounding star forward and Olympian Angel McCoughtry who missed two games for undisclosed reasons. The team told media that McCoughtry’s absences were for “personal reasons” but there was speculation that she was suspended as commentators during a game revealed that she had been stripped of her captaincy status with the team. However, McCoughtry indicated that she asked Meadors for time off after playing in two games following the league’s Olympic break. Rookie Tiffany Hayes replaced her in the starting lineup.
The first game McCoughtry missed on Wednesday, August 22 was a home contest against the Chicago Sky. She attended the game in street clothes and participated in a pre-game ceremony honoring the team’s Olympians which also includes Brazilian center Erika de Souza. However, she sat in the stands, not on the bench with the Dream. The Dream won 82-71.
From glancing at McCoughtry’s Twitter account around that time, it appeared she also made several appearances at parties in the Atlanta area but did not travel with the team to Washington for a game on Friday. The Dream also won that game, 81-69. However, the next night in a rematch of last year’s WNBA Finals, the team lost on the road, 84-74, against the Minnesota Lynx. McCoughtry played 20 minutes and finished with 14 points. She leads the league in points per game, averaging 22.2 per contest.
The team also fired director of basketball operations and assistant coach Sue Panek. First-year coach Joe Ciampi remains with the team.
“As a team, we are unified in our drive to build on what we’ve achieved in our first five years,” said Williams. “We want to acknowledge the strong contribution that Marynell Meadors made to this organization. Our franchise will continue to build on the tradition of speed, scoring and tough defense that has resulted in back-to-back Eastern Conference championships.”