Ros Camp Diaries: Day 8 - The Seasons Ramping Up!
Big announcement: Cappie Pondexter is back. Pondexter was in the building this Monday after just returning from her overseas season with team Fenerbahce of Turkey. Fenerbahce played deep into the playoffs of Euroleagueplay and most recently won the Turkish league championship. Pondexter will need to rest but she joins training camp having shed a few pounds and looking lean.
Monday was Media Day! Media Day is the longest day of the season; for some players it was a 12-hour day starting at 7:00 am and ending after practice at 7:00 pm. However, it is also the day when the silliest, funniest, most character-exposing videos are made and pictures are taken. The players and coaches got all glamoured up with help frommakeup artists and hair dressers, took their headshots, and filmed fun skits for the fans to enjoy during games and on TV. Take a turn through any corridor of the MSG Training Center and you might catch rookie Toni Young dunking for the talented photographer Jason McDonald, or EssenceCarson performing a song, or Cappie Pondexter dancing under a strobe light, or, if you were really lucky and took the right turn, you might run into Bill Laimbeer rocking a Rod Stewart-esque wig and sunglasses.
May 12th marked the first time of the 2013 season that all players on the Liberty roster were on the court. Cappie returned and participated in practice, quickly working to learn the new offense and defensive strategy. For rookieToni Young some days are better than others. She willendure growing pains as she transitions from the four position to the three. On Monday Toni enjoyed a "good day", setting up her cuts off the screen, coming to the ball hard, and knocking down multiple jump shots against the defense. Veteran Katie Smith was vocal during practice. She has great size at the guard position and rarely looks rattled. She knocked down an open three and made some nice passes off the dribble. Rookie Kelsey Bone had a strong day. After a quiet performance in her first preseasongame in the WNBA this past Saturday she responded with an aggressive showing in practice. On one play she received the ball in the high post against Plenette Pierson. She dribbled left hard, absorbed the bang as Pierson tried to cut her off, spun off of Pierson, and stepped through for a hook shot. Kelsey got a couple cheers from her teammates and coach Laimbeer yelled out, "Must havebeen stage fright on Saturday!" Bone just needs more reps and more opportunities. She shows flashes of great potential.
The Liberty returned from Connecticut after their first preseason game of the season against the Sun. They lost83-74 but that was after a 14-point rally to close out the game. Plenette Pierson, Kamiko Williams, and Alex Montgomery all had 12 points in the game. Williamsshined with a nice game after getting a starting nod in her WNBA debut. Coach Laimbeer likes her ability to absorbinformation and has been pleased with Williams during training camp. While it is only preseason I am excited about Montgomery's stat line of 12 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals. She has great potential, good size, speed and strength. I hope that her third season in the WNBA is the year that it begins to "click" for her. In the past she needed to adjust to the pro level, get out of her own head and simply relax and play. Montgomery's challenge is mental; she has the skills the game just needs to slow down for her, consistently.
No post player on either team played major minutes, still, the Liberty outrebounded the Sun, 28-22. Three stats that stand out are the ugly 29 turnovers the Liberty were forced into, the meager 10 free throw attempts the team took (compared to the 22 attempts for the Sun), and a lonely 4 total three point attempts. Last year's Liberty squad didn't get to the free throw line much and this year, given Laimbeer's promise for a more aggressive, faster paced squad, I imagine they will increase their productivity at the charity stripe. The Liberty don't have to be a three-point-bombing team, so I will watch more before I draw any strong conclusions around that topic.
The WNBA season doesn't just smoothly groove into the swing of things, it literally EXPLODES! Two weeks left of training camp and things are moving fast. The team just left for Chicago to take on the Sky and their shiny new supremely talented star, Elena Delle Donne. In a preview that I wrote for the game, I mentioned that I'm hoping the Liberty: 1) take care of the ball, 2) get to the free throw line and 3) make sure they rest Cappie. I will be looking for improvements, telling stats, and simply as a basketball fan, I'm curious to see what Delle Donne can do. She has a skill set that could really flourish in this league. Also, the Sky have some top-notch talent, headlined by Epiphanny Prince and Sylvia Fowles, and they have had time to heal after suffering many injuries last season. Two teams with tons of potential face off in the preseason, Wednesday afternoon at 12:30 ET. I'll be sure to check on that game!
That's it for now, Liberty and WNBA fans! I'll be back with more diary entries of my observations from New York Liberty 2013 training camp. Stay tuned!
Follow on Twitter: @nyliberty and me, @Rosgo21