The New York Liberty begin their 2013 campaign with a preseason game at the Connecticut Sun on Saturday, May 11th, at 7:00pm ET. They come into the game amidst the buzz of WNBA rebranding, an extended ESPN-WNBA contract, a highly-touted draft class of 2013, a new head coach and general manager in Bill Laimbeer, an assistant coaching staff stocked full of former WNBA and Liberty stars, the number five and seven picks in the draft in Kelsey Bone and Toni Young, a shaken up roster which now includes many new yet familiar faces, a superstar to build the franchise around in Cappie Pondexter, and a soon-nearing return to Madison Square Garden, looming just one year away in the distance. This season marks the beginning of a new era and this preseason game will capture the interest of many who are curious to see what the new New York Liberty are all about.
Don't expect it to be pretty right away. New coach, new system and new players make for messy preseason games. Keep in mind that the Connecticut Sun also have a new coach, Anne Donovan, and likely will have their own growing pains to endure during the game as well. Rather than focus on their opponent, both teams will use the opportunity to continue to learn their offensive and defensive schemes and make decisions about who makes the final roster.
What to watch for:
Curious as to how much Cheryl Ford has left? Or how good Kelsey Bone is? Or how much Kelley Cain has improved? Or what Plenette Pierson and and Kara Braxton bring to the table this year? Watch them in the paint against one of the best centers in the league, reigning WNBA MVP, Tina Charles. Also look out for the Liberty's ability to rebound. New York lacked a dominant presence on the glass last season and coach Laimbeer has made it clear that he wants this team to rebound better.
Keys to the game:
1) Gain experience. Laimbeer is putting in a new system. This game is all about learning to execute it and finding good player rotations.
2) Build camaraderie. There is a lot of "new" on the Liberty and many different generations of basketball on the roster. The players don't have to become best friends, but they do need to bond and a road trip is a great opportunity for just that.