In a shocking and sudden development, Atlanta Dream head coach Nicki Collen has announced that she will be leaving the team to coach the Baylor Lady Bears. Collen will take the place of Hall of Famer Kim Mulkey, who left Baylor to go coach LSU.
Collen became the Dream’s head coach back in 2018 and went 23-11, leading the Dream to the WNBA semifinals while bringing home the WNBA Coach of the Year Award in that first season. In her three seasons at the helm in Atlanta, Collen went 38-52. Before joining the Dream, Collen spent time with the Connecticut Sun as an assistant. She also was an assistant coach for Colorado State, Ball State, Louisville, and Arkansas.
Up Next for Atlanta
Taking over as interim coach for Atlanta will be assistant coach Mike Petersen, who will work closely with Darius Taylor. Petersen joined the Dream’s coaching staff in 2017. He brings a lot of basketball knowledge; Petersen was head coach at North Texas, Wake Forest, Gonzaga, New Mexico State, and TCU. He has amassed over three-hundred wins in his career thus far. Petersen was also an assistant coach at Oregon and for the Minnesota men’s team.
The timing of this is certainly not ideal for the Dream, in the middle of training camp with the season less than two weeks away. It also seems that Atlanta’s players were just as shocked as everybody else as the news broke. It will help that Petersen is already on the staff, so the team should not have to deal with too much change.
Atlanta already had one major shakeup recently, as the Dream franchise was sold to a three-member group led by real estate investor Larry Gottesdiener, the team’s majority owner. Suzanne Abair, president of Northland Investment Corp., and former WNBA player Renee Montgomery are the other two investors.
Additionally, in April, Atlanta fired president and general manager Chris Sienko about a week after the WNBA Draft. It has been a crazy year for Atlanta, but they have some talented players on their roster and are trying to get to the next level. It will be interesting to see if the talent that they’ve assembled can overcome all this change.