With one full year together under their belt, the New York Liberty are already looking forward to next season.
Less than two weeks after playing in the Eastern Conference Finals, team President and General Manager Carol Blazejowski remains very pleased with the direction of the Liberty, who added a total of six players before and during the 2010 season and still managed to be one of the best teams in the league.
Given where we were (in 2009) and how we rebuilt the team, we got off to a slow start but certainly had a pretty special year for this franchise, Blazejowski said. You never want it to end, especially when youre that close, but we have some holes to fill and Im anxious for next year already.
We have a great core group of players and we want to build on the success of this season.
The Liberty added big names like Cappie Pondexter, Nicole Powell and Taj McWilliams-Franklin into the mix prior to the 2010 season after falling short of a playoff berth a year earlier. It took some time before the team built the right chemistry on the floor, but once everything started to click, the Liberty became the most dangerous team in the WNBA during the second half of the regular season.
The Liberty won 15 of their final 18 games to finish the season with a 22-12 record, the second best finish in franchise history. They went on to defeat the reigning Eastern Conference champion Indiana Fever in the opening round of the playoffs to advance to the conference finals for the second time in three years.
We had a lot of new players, but we followed the plan, Blazejowski said. The plan was to bring in proven winners who had championship experience, a little more maturity and leadership. That was some of the criteria we looked for prior to the start of the season, and we were able to get that. It was also just a matter of time before the team got it. And the coaching staff did a remarkable job, too.
The coaching staff was led by Anne Donovan, who announced last offseason that she was leaving following the 2010 season to pursue a college coaching job with Seton Hall. Blazejowskis biggest offseason priority will be finding a replacement - someone who has experience in the league and can mesh with the Libertys players.
Its sad to see Anne go because shes a terrific friend and a terrific coach. She did a really tremendous job this season, Blazejowski said. But its a new chapter for the New York Liberty. We havent begun the coaching search and its going to take time.
While the search for a coach is a given, Blazejowski didnt rule out altering the roster for next season, either. After all, she has been known to make some bold moves. A few game into last season, after already stacking the team with All-Star players, she pulled off a trade for Plenette Pierson, one of the top players off the bench in the league.
Youre always looking to improve your club, she said.
As far as who will be back from the current roster next season, Blazejowski still has to wait and see.
I cant make any comments with respect of who will be back and who wont be back, she said. Ill just say we got a good core going forward.