NEW YORK – Atlanta Dream Head Coach Nicki Collen, who guided the team to the No. 2 seed in the 2018 WNBA Playoffs, has been named the WNBA Coach of the Year, the WNBA announced today. She becomes the second Atlanta coach to earn the honor, joining Marynell Meadors (2009).
Collen received 37 votes from a national panel of 39 sportswriters and broadcasters. Dan Hughes of the Seattle Storm and Mike Thibault of the Washington Mystics tied for second with one vote each.
In Collen’s first season as a head coach at any level, the Dream won 15 of its final 17 games to finish with a 23-11 record – an 11-game improvement over last season’s 12-22 mark. The 23 victories are the most in franchise history, surpassing the previous mark of 20 set in 2011 (20-14). The season-ending 15-2 surge featured a team-record eight-game winning streak.
The Dream will host the Mystics in Game 2 of a best-of-five Semifinals series tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
Under Collen, Atlanta ranked among the league leaders in several defensive categories. The Dream led the WNBA in defensive rating, allowing 97.1 points per 100 possessions, and blocked a league-high 5.29 shots per game. Atlanta also held opponents to the lowest field goal percentage (42.3) and the second-lowest three-point field goal percentage (32.1).
Dream players flourished under Collen’s direction. Guard Tiffany Hayes set career highs in scoring (17.2 ppg) and assists (2.7 apg) and was named the WNBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Month for July. Forward Jessica Breland registered career bests for rebounds (7.9 rpg) and blocks (1.91 bpg). Guard Renee Montgomery (10.3 ppg) posted her highest scoring average in six years.
Collen, who was hired by the Dream in October 2017, spent the prior two WNBA seasons with the Connecticut Sun as an assistant to Head Coach Curt Miller. In 2017, the Sun improved by seven games over 2016, going 21-13 and reaching the playoffs for the first time in five seasons as Miller earned the WNBA Coach of the Year honor.
Before joining the Sun, Collen spent nine seasons as a college assistant coach with stints at Colorado State, Ball State, Louisville, Arkansas and Florida Gulf Coast.
As a player at Purdue, Collen was a member of Big Ten 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 earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. She then played one year of professional basketball with BCM Alexandros in Greece.
Below are the voting results for the 2018 WNBA Coach of the Year Award as well as a list of past recipients.