Nicki Collen talks about her final roster choices
ATLANTA — The Dream’s final roster cut came down to Blake Dietrick, Maite Cazorla and having a backup point guard ready for when Alex Bentley leaves for EuroBasket.
Bentley is a member of the Belarus national team, and the amount of time Bentley’s gone depends on her team’s success at the tournament, Collen said Bentley will miss a “a considerable amount of time. Up to a quarter of the season, if they’re good.”
The Dream announced Thursday that it waived Dietrick, who made the Dream’s 2018 roster following a training camp contract, and signed another in February. Cazorla, a rookie out of Oregon, made the team’s final roster.
“Probably the hardest cut I’ve ever made as a coach. Bar none,” Dream head coach Nicki Collen said at practice Thursday. “I think with Alex going to EuroBasket and missing considerable time, it felt like Maite, we’ve got to get her ready to be our backup point guard when Alex leaves. That was the deciding factor there. Just didn’t want to cut Blake, for sure.”
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Other than her working in training camp, Cazorla’s success playing alongside the dominant Sabrina Ionescu at Oregon benefited Cazorla, according to Collen.
“What I know is she can run pick and roll offense,” Collen said. “I think she understands the game. I think she’s a solid defender at our level, she’s very smart, her footwork is good. She makes the smart play, she makes the right read. She doesn’t force things. She kinda understands her role and how to stay within her role.”
Forward Haley Peters also made the final roster. Peters last played in the WNBA in 2017, but had a stellar overseas season with her French team, being nominated for league MVP.
Collen was aware of Peters before that, though, and looks to her as another piece to stretch the floor.
“We actually tried to add her before the mid-season trade deadline when we had injuries in Connecticut a couple of years ago,” Collen said. “She was dealing with plantar fasciitis at the time and opted to not take the opportunity and get healthy. “We basically went into free agency knowing we needed to get a couple inexpensive players that could help fill that void (left by Angel McCoughtry’s injury) because we didn’t have the cap space, because Angel’s on the team, to go and kinda replace her. So we had to be creative.”
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