The first month of the season is a wrap and it has been quite a ride for the New York Liberty. The team began the season 3-0 at home for the first time since 2007. New York saw one player score like she had never done before, and one pick up where she left off last season. The Liberty made a splash in the WNBA draft, and saw that splash turn into a tidal wave with the outstanding play of their rookies. All of this – while leading the WNBA on the defensive end. Take a trip through the month of June:
Sugar Rodgers will remember this month for a long time. Since she was inserted into the starting line up on June 21 at Atlanta, Sugar has averaged 15.75 points per game, 2.5 assists, and 3.5 rebounds. In her young 3 years WNBA career, Rodgers has made a name for herself as a great on ball defender, but in these four games, she has introduced the league to her offensive arsenal. Sugar had a career high 23-points vs. the Sparks on June 28, and shot 50-percent from the field, and from behind the arc. She started the season in a big shooting slump,in which she shot 3-of-24 from behind the arc, including a game vs. Indiana on June 9th when she was 0-for-6. Since the move to starter, Rodgers has made 10 long balls, including two consecutive games with three a piece vs. LA on June 28 and at Chicago on the 30th. Her comfort behind the 3-point line has been paired with acrobatic moves to the basket, steals at the top of the key, and long minutes late in games.
Tina Charles recorded the 100th double-double of her career on June 21st at Atlanta with 13 points and 12 rebounds, sliding into second place all time behind Tina Thompson. She entered the WNBA season with an offensive explosion, leading the Liberty in scoring in their first four games with double-digit numbers. After a string of games where she struggled offensively, Tina rebounded from her offensive woes with a 16 point and 9 rebound performance vs. the LA Sparks and followed that up with her best game of the season against the Chicago Sky with 26 points and 11 rebounds. She scored New York’s first four baskets and had 13 points before the 2nd quarter began.
Kiah Stokes has given the Liberty just what they expected when they drafted her- defense, and then some. The rookie has controlled the paint in her first month of play in the WNBA, making any shot that comes her way a struggle for the opponent. She is averaging 2 blocks per game which ranks her 3rd in the WNBA, and 1st among rookies. She is 2nd in the league with 20 total blocks. In the loss to Tulsa on June 26, she recorded a season high four blocks, and followed that up with three against the LA Sparks two days later. She was tasked with helping guard Elena Delle Done on June 30 in the win over Chicago and even blocked a shot of hers. In that game, she recorded the first double-double of her career, pouring in 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
In just one short month, Brittany Boyd has won over the fans at Madison Square Garden, and run over opponents with her speed and quickness as point guard. When she comes off the bench, fans know that the speed of the game has just been amplified. After starting a few games, Boyd came off the bench and adjusted to the role on the fly. In her first game off the bench, she led all scorers with 18th points. She was the first rookie to lead both teams in scoring in a victory since Becky Hammon in a 72-55 victory over Cleveland on Aug. 19, 1999. She is averaging 8.2 points per game, and sits 2nd in the rookie ladder with 2.7 assists per game.
The Liberty built up a reputation of defensive toughness in the month of June. The team ranks first in the league, limiting opponents to just 36.4 percent from the field. New York forced teams to shoot under 40 percent in eight of its 10 games, and held two teams under 30- percent. This included the Atlanta Dream on their home floor. The Liberty had not held an opponent under 30-percent on the road since 2007. They contained some of the best offensive squads in the league, holding the Chicago Sky, which had been shooting 46-percent from the field, to 39-percent. In a loss to Tulsa, they forced Tulsa to shoot a season low 33.9 percent.