The Liberty return to the Prudential Center for the first home game of the season this Friday, May 31st, at 7:30 pm against the Tulsa Shock. New York comes off of an 81-69 road loss to the Connecticut Sun in the season opener. Cappie Pondexter started off red-hot with 16 points in the first half but struggled in the third quarter. Still, the explosive guard finished the game with a game high of 23 points on 8-21 shooting. The Liberty played without posts Cheryl Ford and Plenette Pierson who were nursing knee pain/injury. Plenette Pierson returned to practice this week and is expected to play in Fridays game against the Shock. Pierson will add a boost of speed and toughness inside to help out Kara Braxton and rookie Kelsey Bone. Bone missed a few close-up shots against the Sun, but made many aggressive quick moves to the basket. The rookie finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds and improves with each practice and each game. Essence Carson showed her versatility with a 14-point, 8-rebound and 3-assists stat line. Kara Braxton worked in the paint scoring 8 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. The Liberty shot 50% from three and 100% from the free throw line but were outrebounded 42-37 and turned the ball over 18 times. The Libs had trouble guarding the three-point line allowing the Sun 10 made threes, including 5 from Kara Lawson.
The Tulsa Shock lost both of their first two games of the season. Most recently they suffered a 95-90 defeat in overtime to the Washington Mystics. Averaging 17 points and 9 rebounds over two games is 68 Liz Cambage who rejoined the team in a last minute decision before the start of the WNBA season. Cambage provides unmatched size inside for Tulsa and Glory Johnson brings physicality, speed, and aggressiveness in the paint. On the perimeter the Shock have been led in scoring by Roneeka Hodges and her quick release three-point shot. Guard Riquna Williams boasts a dangerous ability to score in bunches and Candice Wiggins is a good three-point shooter. And of course, Skylar Diggins of the Three To See will be in the building this Friday! The rookie entertained crowds with sharp slashes to the basket for layups and delivered run out passes in transition, however, she is shooting poorly from the field in her first two games, going 8 for 28.
Keys To The Game:
Work on Cambage.
Liz Cambage is 68 with a solid frame- simply put, shes just bigger than every one else. Coach Laimbeer admitted that she is the player the Liberty are most concerned about. With her size, it will take a collective effort by New Yorks posts to keep her from getting in deep. Because she is so much taller, Liberty defenders must keep a body on her, be help-side aware and create bad passing angles to discourage easy passes to her.
After scoring 20 and 22 points in the first two quarters of the Connecticut game the Liberty went cold in the second half only mustering 14 and 13 points in the third and fourth quarters. Libs should look to keep their aggressiveness up as a team, maintain good shot selection and keep the overall offensive flow consistent over the course of the game.