NEW YORK LIBERTY (1-0) VS. MINNESOTA LYNX (1-0)
Thursday, May 18 • New York, N.Y. (Madison Square Garden) • 7 PM
The New York Liberty will face a difficult early season test as they host Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles, and the Minnesota Lynx on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. Both the Liberty and Lynx are coming off season-opening wins last weekend, and they are ranked second and third in the AP WNBA Preseason Power Poll respectively.
• New York won its 2017 season opener against the San Antonio Stars on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Tina Charles led 5 Liberty players in double figures, finishing with 12 points and 7 rebounds. It was nearly a wire-to-wire victory for the Liberty, who fell behind 1-0 and then led the rest of the way, peaking with an 18-point advantage early in the 4th quarter.
• Epiphanny Prince excelled in the opening day victory over the Stars, scoring 11 points with a pair of steals. While shooting just 2-of-8 from the field, Prince got to the line 9 times, where she scored 7 of her points.
• Starting with Thursday night’s game, 7 of New York’s next 8 opponents qualified for the WNBA playoffs last season.
• There were four new players on New York’s opening day roster. Center Kia Vaughn and guard Bria Hartley were acquired in a trade with Washington, while the Liberty signed forward Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe and forward Cierra Burdick during the offseason.
• Raincock-Ekunwe is the only WNBA Rookie on New York’s roster, although the Canadian National Team player has four years experience playing professionally overseas, having spent time in both Australia and France this offseason.
Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles have been battling in the paint since their days in college. Now teammates on the U.S. National Team, Charles and Fowles both figure to be focal points on both ends of the floor on Thursday night. Fowles, the reigning WNBA Defensive Player of the Year showed off her offensive game in the season-opening win over Chicago last weekend, posting a double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Charles led the Liberty in scoring (12 points) and rebounding (7 points) in the season opening win over San Antonio.
Minnesota took 2-of-3 last season, including a 79-69 victory at Madison Square Garden on May 31. New York’s victory came in overtime, 95-92, on the road, a game that saw Sugar Rodgers score a career-high 30 points.
The Liberty picked up a season-opening win over the Stars with 5 different players scoring in double figures, including a pair of players off the bench in Cierra Burdick and Epiphanny Prince. New York, which had one of the most productive 2nd units in the league last season, the ‘bench mob’, scored 32 points against San Antonio.
Tina Charles was one of five players selected to the Associated Press 2017 Preseason All-WNBA team, along with Maya Moore, Elena Delle Donne, Nneka Ogwumike, and Diana Taurasi. Charles was named 1st Team All-WNBA in 2015 and 2016, becoming the 1st player in Liberty history to garner 1st Team accolades in consecutive seasons.
Tina Charles was widely featured in the Annual WNBA GM Preseason survey, receiving many accolades for her impressive play in the paint. Charles was voted as having the best post-moves in the league (75%) and saw a handful of her trademark scoring offensive moves mentioned including her hook shot, fadeaway, and reverse pivot. Additionally, Charles tied with Maya Moore as the players coaches and GM’s think is most hungry to win a WNBA title this season.
While it seems like much of the Liberty roster has seen little change from last season, there actually has been a fair amount of transition. New York has 4 new faces on this year’s team and only 6 players from the 2016 Opening Day roster return in 2017 (Epiphanny Prince and Rebecca Allen were inactive to start last year). Center Kia Vaughn, guard Bria Hartley, forward Cierra Burdick, and rookie forward Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe are all newcomers.