Meadors led Dream turnaround
PHOENIX -- Marynell Meadors was honored Thursday as the WNBA coach of the year after leading the Atlanta Dream to a remarkable turnaround in the franchise's second season.
With Meadors serving as the team's general manager and coach, Atlanta went from 4-30 in its expansion year in 2008 to 18-16 this season. Atlanta finished second in the Eastern Conference to earn a playoff berth.
"This season was just awesome. I loved coaching this team," she said. "They came in from day one and played as hard as they could play, and I thought `Wow, this is going to be something special,' and it certainly was."
Meadors received 30 votes from a national panel of writers and broadcasters. Indiana's Lin Dunn was a distant second with six votes. Corey Gaines of Phoenix received four.
Meadors was presented the award at a news conference Thursday prior to Game 2 of the WNBA Finals between Phoenix and Indiana.
It was a day of honors for Atlanta. Earlier, Dream forward Angel McGaughtry was named rookie of the year.
Atlanta's 14-win turnaround is the second-best in WNBA history, behind the 2003 Detroit Shock, went from 9-23 to 25-9.
To accomplish it, Meadors overhauled the roster. Only four players remained from the expansion season.
"She certainly did a great job of assembling really first-class talent," WNBA president Donna Orender said in presenting the award.
The Dream traded for the rights to Chamique Holdsclaw, then persuaded her to return to the WNBA. Atlanta acquired Sancho Lyttle from the dispersal draft of the defunct Houston franchise and signed Michelle Snow.
The team selected McCoughtry with the No. 1 pick, then picked Shalee Lehning later in the draft.
"We brought in 13 players that first year and we had eight new ones this past season," Meadors said. "They just worked hard and you saw what they did."
Meadors has coached for 35 years, including 11 in the WNBA. She was head coach and general manager of the Charlotte Sting and director of scouting for the Miami Sol. Meadors went to Atlanta in 2007 after three years as an assistant coach for the Washington Mystics.
"Atlanta has been a great, great city to be in," Meadors said. "They have wanted a WNBA team ever since the 1996 Olympics were there. Now they got their wish and I'll tell you what, they really support our players."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press