Hayes helps drive Dream


Before the start of the 2017 WNBA season, Tiffany Hayes received a text message from a former college teammate. It was a link to an article announcing that Hayes' Atlanta Dream teammate, Angel McCoughtry, was sitting out the season to rest.
McCoughtry is a four-time WNBA All-Star and two-time scoring champion whose absence would certainly be felt. And Hayes could already feel the eyes turning to look at her. She was quick to shut that down.
"I immediately thought that all of us had to step up our game heading into the season," Hayes said. "Basketball is a team sport."
Though mired in an eight-game losing streak, the Dream are 10-19. But Hayes leads Atlanta with a career-high 15.9 points per game and in July was named an All-Star for the first time in her six-year career.
"Tiffany has always been a quiet leader, and now she's having to be more of a vocal leader and it's paying off," Dream coach Michael Cooper said. "I think she's growing up and her game is expanding and getting better."
The Dream drafted Hayes in the second round in 2012 after she played four years at the University of Connecticut. She primarily came off the bench during her first two seasons before becoming the starting shooting guard in 2014. Each year she made improvements that led to this summer's breakout season.
Part of that has been the time she has spent overseas. Hayes has played in Israel, Brazil and Turkey. She says playing overseas gave her an opportunity to work on skills -- such as footwork and finishing -- that benefit her in the WNBA.
"There are a lot of great players around the world and different types of basketball," Hayes said. "You learn a lot of new things traveling the world and playing."
Still, the world traveler has settled in Atlanta and says purchasing a home there is on her to-do list. She loves the city and the fans and, she says, "Atlanta is definitely a place I'd love to stick around."
Hayes is nothing if not matter of fact. She believes in herself and her teammates, but is also quick to express her disappointment in the Dream's shortcomings.
"When we're good, we're really good," she said. "But when we're not, it's like ugh ... " Hayes trailed off, her frustration palpable even over the phone.