Nicki Collen has been named head coach of the Atlanta Dream, it has been announced by owners Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler.
“I am humbled at the opportunity to become the next Head Coach of the Atlanta Dream and incredibly proud to be associated with a league that empowers women in such a positive way,” Collen said. “I want to thank owners Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler, as well as team President Theresa Wenzel for believing in me and what we can accomplish together. I was blown away by their passion and commitment to the Dream and to the city of Atlanta”
Collen most recently finished her second season as an assistant coach with the Connecticut Sun. Under head coach Curt Miller, the Sun compiled an impressive 21-13 record in 2017 and finished with the fourth-best regular season record in the WNBA, earning the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 2012. Collen helped Connecticut, who lost former No. 1 pick Chiney Ogwumike to injury prior to the 2017 season, improve on a 14-20 record in 2016 and helped Miller to earn the 2017 WNBA Coach of the Year award.
“It is important to specifically thank Curt Miller and the Connecticut Sun organization for giving me my start in this league as well as helping prepare me for this opportunity” Collen added. “I am so proud of what we accomplished together and will no doubt miss my Sun family.”
“Nicki brings impressive basketball and coaching credentials along with great leadership qualities and we are thrilled to welcome her to the Atlanta Dream,” team owners Loeffler and Brock said. “We believe her strong emphasis on player development alongside a disciplined offensive and defensive system will position our talented team to be a playoff contender.
“She impressed us with her vision for building on the decade of growth for the Dream and we are excited about launching our 2018 season with this announcement.”
Prior to moving to Connecticut, Collen served under head coach Karl Smesko at Florida Gulf Coast. Joining the staff in July of 2014, Collen helped guide the Eagles to consecutive 30-win seasons. The 2015-16 team recently completed a 33-6 campaign with a trip to the WNIT Championship game, where it was edged by South Dakota on April 2nd. The 2014-15 Eagles were 31-3 with a 26-game winning streak and an undefeated record in the Atlantic Sun Conference. That team also made history with its first Division I national ranking and its first NCAA Tournament victory, a 75-67 win over 10th-seeded Oklahoma State.
Before moving to FGCU, Collen enjoyed great success as an assistant coach at Arkansas, Louisville, Ball State and Colorado State. During her nine seasons as an assistant coach at the collegiate level, Collen helped teams reached three NCAA tournaments and five WNITs.
As a player at Purdue, Collen was a member of Big 10 championship teams that advanced to the Final Four in 1994 and the Elite Eight in 1995. Collen transferred to Marquette as a junior, competing in two more NCAA tournaments while also securing a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.
The Atlanta Dream return a core group of players including 2017 WNBA All-Stars Layshia Clarendon, Tiffany Hayes, and Elizabeth Williams as well as 2017 WNBA All-Rookie Team member Brittney Sykes. The Dream also anticipates the return of the franchise’s all-time scoring leader Angel McCoughtry, who sat out the 2017 season to rest.
“The Dream roster is loaded with talented women and I look forward to the challenge of putting all the pieces together and building a program the players and fans can be proud of,” Collen said.
2018 Atlanta Dream season and group tickets are on sale now by calling 877-977-7729 or by visiting www.AtlantaDream.net.
*Cover photo courtesy of Getty Images/NBAE