THE SAGA OF ANGEL McCOUGHTRY
And so it came to pass that the leading scorer in the WNBA returned to the fair city of Atlanta after her Olympic experience and all was not well. Her Dream team, currently in third place in their WNBA division and playing .500 ball (11-11) was struggling and the head coach, /G.M. of the program...Marynell Meadors...was benching Angel for reasons quite unclear to the fans who follow these Southern Belles.
One thing usually stands as a predictable rule in professional organized sports. When there is friction between the coach and the franchise player, the coach should probably start packing suitcases and updating the resume.
Good bye, Marynell...hello Fred.
In the last year of her contract with Atlanta, Angel has taken a cellar dweller to a WNBA finalist in her time at Atlanta. She's the darling of Atlanta, Louisville and hardly shy about expressing her feelings and emotions. She's a player that has the inate ability to change the nature and circumstances of any game she steps onto the court to perform in.
Keep the talent, the headline act happy. The fans aren't flocking through the gates to see Marynell Meadors coach.
Yes, she has teammates. A potential star-in-waiting in Tiffany Hayes. Solid veteran players in Lindsey Harding, Erika de Souza and Sancho Lyttle. How far would they get in WNBA competition without Ms. McCoughtry? How far can you toss a feather in a closet?
Jeff Walz got it. When he arrived on the UofL campus after the departure of Tom Collen, he probably looked at his roster and circled two names. Angel's and Candyce Bingham's. The rest of the lineup was essential but not the path to the NCAA Championship game. Walz and McCoughtry reached an accord. It got them to national recognition, a tag as one of the best young coaches in women's college basketball and a #1 pick in the 2009 WNBA draft. Jeff Walz can be a demanding coach but he knows that you don't upset talent. Don't poke the bear. Don't clip the Angel's wings.
Keep the talent happy. It's what's for dinner.
Angel may choose to remain in Atlanta after this season or test the choppy WNBA waters. She well may once again put the team on her shoulders and carry them to another deep run in the WNBA playoffs.
Regardless of what she does, she's the headliner act, the cash cow and daring diva of the Atlanta Dream.
You don't put baby (or in this case...Angel) in a corner.
I'm sure that somewhere today Marynell Meadors is reviewing her years with the Atlanta Dream. Years that brought her a certain amount of recognition, a gig with the TEAM USA Olympics and a job and salary.
Would they have been as fruitful without Angel McCoughtry?
My guess is that if she could have a "do-over" or a mulligan...she'd offer to drive Angel to the grocery store instead of putting her on the bench.
The late Jim Croce, a wonderful songwriter and performer who was taken from us way too early in his life, wrote these lyrics for a song which pretty well sum up the situation :
You don't tug on Superman cape
You don't spit in the wind
You don't pull the mask off the ol' Lone Ranger
And you don't mess around with Jim.
Good words to live by, Fred. Let Angel fly. It just might translate into job security.