Atlanta Dream hire ex-WNBA player Tanisha Wright as new head coach

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Dream picks Las Vegas assistant as new head coach

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In this Aug. 11, 2019, file photo, New York Liberty guard Tanisha Wright, center, goes after a loose ball during the first half of the team’s WNBA basketball game against the Seattle Storm at Barclays Center in New York.

Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 | 9:22 a.m.

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Dream hired longtime WNBA player Tanisha Wright as its new head coach on Tuesday, looking to bring stability to a team that struggled under two interim coaches this past season.

The 37-year-old Wright played 14 seasons with the Seattle Storm, New York Liberty and Minnesota Lynx.

She retired after the 2019 season and spent the last two years as an assistant for the Las Vegas Aces. She also had been a college assistant with Charlotte since 2017.

"It’s an honor to be chosen as head coach for the Atlanta Dream, and I’m excited to play a role in building a successful organization centered around the player experience,” Wright said in a statement. “I have been part of championship teams and understand what it takes to win in this league. I look forward to bringing my talents to this franchise and helping the Dream achieve success.”

Wright joins an organization that has gone through tumultuous changes in the past year.

Owner Kelly Loeffler was pressured to sell her 49% stake in the team after she objected to the league's social justice initiatives, which led to her own players wearing shirts in support of her opponent in the Georgia U.S. Senate race, Raphael Warnock.

Warnock defeated Loeffler in a January runoff.

The Dream now has a new ownership group, which is led by real estate investor Larry Gottesdiener and includes former Dream guard Renee Montgomery.

Less than two weeks before the season opener, coach Nicki Collen abruptly left the team to take over the powerhouse women's program at Baylor. Collen had coached the Dream for three seasons, leading them to the WNBA semifinals in 2018 but struggling to a 15-41 record over the next two years.

Her assistant, Mike Peterson, hastily took over as interim coach, but he resigned July 24 during the Olympic break for health reasons. His assistant, Darius Taylor, coached the team for the remainder of the season, winning just two of 13 games.

The Dream finished 8-24, missing the playoffs for the third straight year.

The addition of Wright is part of a total overhaul of the organization that also included the hiring of former NFL executive Morgan Shaw Parker as president and chief operating officer.

“Known for her defensive mindset, emotional intelligence, and grit, we are beyond thrilled that Tanisha Wright is joining the Atlanta Dream,” Gottesdiener said. "Tanisha demonstrates a rare depth of character that is inspiring, and we can’t wait to see the positive impact she will have on this team.”

Wright spent 10 seasons as a guard with the Seattle Storm, where she helped lead the team to nine straight playoff appearances and the WNBA Championship in 2010.

With the Aces, she worked under head coach Bill Laimbeer.

The Dream believe Wright, a native of Brooklyn who played collegiately at Penn State, can help improve the team's performance on the court as well as establishing a culture of integrity and accountability after the recent turmoil.

“Words cannot express how excited I am for a rising talent like Tanisha to join the Dream,” Montgomery said. “Tanisha is widely respected across the league, and as with all great leaders, she will set a strong example for our team.”

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Penn State's Tanisha Wright Named Head Coach of Atlanta Dream

CalBearsMaven 12 October, 2021 - 02:45pm

"It’s an honor to be chosen as head coach for the Atlanta Dream, and I’m excited to play a role in building a successful organization centered around the player experience," Wright said in a statement. "I have been part of championship teams and understand what it takes to win in this league. I look forward to bringing my talents to this franchise and helping the Dream achieve success."

Wright was a three-time Big Ten defensive player of the year at Penn State and led the conference in scoring (19.3 ppg) in 2004-05. She played on two Big Ten champions and helped the 2003-04 team to the NCAA East Regional final, where it fell to top-seeded Connecticut. In 2005, Wright became the first Penn State player selected in the first round of the WNBA draft. 

Wright played 10 seasons with the Seattle Storm, helping the team to nine consecutive playoff appearances and the 2010 WNBA title. She was named to the WNBA's all-defensive first team four times. Wright also played for Minnesota and New York before retiring as a player in 2019.

“Known for her defensive mindset, emotional intelligence, and grit, we are beyond thrilled that Tanisha Wright is joining the Atlanta Dream," Larry Gottesdiener, owner and chairman of the Atlanta Dream, said in a statement. "Tanisha demonstrates a rare depth of character that is inspiring, and we can’t wait to see the positive impact she will have on this team."

"Words cannot express how excited I am for a rising talent like Tanisha to join the Dream,” said Renee Montgomery, Atlanta Dream owner and vice president. "Tanisha is widely respected across the league, and as with all great leaders, she will set a strong example for our team."

Penn State Women's Basketball: Tanisha Wright Named Head Coach of Atlanta Dream

State College News 12 October, 2021 - 12:36pm

“It’s an honor to be chosen as head coach for the Atlanta Dream, and I’m excited to play a role in building a successful organization centered around the player experience,” Wright said in a press release. “I have been part of championship teams and understand what it takes to win in this league. I look forward to bringing my talents to this franchise and helping the Dream achieve success.”

While at Penn State the West Mifflin native averaged 14.9 points per game over the course of her career before being selected No. 12 overall in the 2005 WNBA Draft. Wright was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons from 2003, 2004 and 2005 averaging two steals per game over the span of her four year career in State College.

She was also named a first-team USBWA All-American.

Wright would go on to play 10 seasons as a guard for the Seattle Storm, winning a WNBA title in 2010 and nine-straight playoff appearances.

“Known for her defensive mindset, emotional intelligence, and grit, we are beyond thrilled that Tanisha Wright is joining the Atlanta Dream,” said Larry Gottesdiener, Owner and Chairman of the Atlanta Dream. “Tanisha demonstrates a rare depth of character that is inspiring, and we can’t wait to see the positive impact she will have on this team.”

“Words cannot express how excited I am for a rising talent like Tanisha to join the Dream,” said Renee Montgomery, Owner and Vice President of the Atlanta Dream. “Tanisha is widely respected across the league, and as with all great leaders, she will set a strong example for our team.”

In coaching Wright joined the Charlotte 49ers as an assistant coach, before retiring as a player in 2019. In 2020, the Las Vegas Aces signed her as an assistant coach.

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Dream hire Tanisha Wright as head coach

The Athletic 12 October, 2021 - 11:42am

The Atlanta Dream have hired Las Vegas Aces assistant Tanisha Wright as head coach, the team announced Tuesday.

Wright will be the fifth full-time head coach in franchise history and the fourth coach to lead the team in the last six months. Nicki Collen left in early May to replace Kim Mulkey at Baylor, and interim coach Mike Petersen stepped down in July for health reasons. Darius Taylor had served most recently as interim coach as the Dream finished out an 8-24 season.

Wright, 37, played 14 seasons in the WNBA before becoming a coach. She spent the last two seasons with the Aces, who lost to the Mercury in Game 5 of the semifinals on Friday.

“It’s an honor to be chosen as head coach for the Atlanta Dream, and I’m excited to play a role in building a successful organization centered around the player experience,” Wright said in a statement. “I have been part of championship teams and understand what it takes to win in this league. I look forward to bringing my talents to this franchise and helping the Dream achieve success.”

Will the lower seeds in the WNBA playoffs continue to prevail? Former WNBA star Tully Bevilaqua helps break down the series.

Will the lower seeds in the WNBA playoffs continue to prevail? Former WNBA star Tully Bevilaqua helps break down the series.

Dream hire Tanisha Wright as head coach

The Atlanta Journal Constitution 12 October, 2021 - 11:42am

The Atlanta Dream have hired Las Vegas Aces assistant Tanisha Wright as head coach, the team announced Tuesday.

Wright will be the fifth full-time head coach in franchise history and the fourth coach to lead the team in the last six months. Nicki Collen left in early May to replace Kim Mulkey at Baylor, and interim coach Mike Petersen stepped down in July for health reasons. Darius Taylor had served most recently as interim coach as the Dream finished out an 8-24 season.

Wright, 37, played 14 seasons in the WNBA before becoming a coach. She spent the last two seasons with the Aces, who lost to the Mercury in Game 5 of the semifinals on Friday.

“It’s an honor to be chosen as head coach for the Atlanta Dream, and I’m excited to play a role in building a successful organization centered around the player experience,” Wright said in a statement. “I have been part of championship teams and understand what it takes to win in this league. I look forward to bringing my talents to this franchise and helping the Dream achieve success.”

Will the lower seeds in the WNBA playoffs continue to prevail? Former WNBA star Tully Bevilaqua helps break down the series.

Will the lower seeds in the WNBA playoffs continue to prevail? Former WNBA star Tully Bevilaqua helps break down the series.

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