New York Liberty 2016 Training Camp is presented by Blueprint for Athletes.
The New York Liberty will play the first of its two preseason games when it faces the Chicago Sky at the University of Delware on Sunday, May 1, at 2 p.m. It will be the second year in a row the Liberty faces Chicago at Delaware, having lost 83-55 last season.
• Despite returning a majority of last year’s team, the Liberty still has five rookies on the roster and Sunday afternoon’s preseason contest will be their first look at WNBA competition. First round draft pick Adut Bulgak and second rounder Ameryst Alston will see how they stack up after just under a week of preparation. With this year’s draft being so close to the start of camp, both players will have had just 16 days between being drafted and taking the court.
• Bulgak has a whirlwind of a three-day stretch. She flew down to Tallahassee after practice on Friday so she could attend her college graduation at Florida State, before boarding a plane to head back up north, and she will make her first appearance in a Liberty uniform on Sunday.
• The Liberty will be without veterans Tina Charles and Swin Cash for this game. The probable starting lineup is Kiah Stokes, Carolyn Swords, Brittany Boyd, Sugar Rodgers, and Shavonte Zellous. It will be unique to see Swords and Stokes on the floor together at the same time to start the game, especially with Bill Laimbeer looking for both players to press on the offensive end.
• It is not just the rookies making their Liberty debut, as free agent acquisition Shavonte Zellous will be wearing a New York uniform for the first time. Expected to be in the starting lineup, the seven-year veteran will likely set the tone early, pushing tempo in the paint along with Boyd, leaving space for Rodgers to wreak havoc from the perimeter.
• Although the Bob Carpenter Center is technically a “neutral court” it is a homecoming for Sky All-Star Elena Delle Donne, who starred collegiately there from 2009-13. In last year’s preseason meeting, Delle Donne led all scorers with 16 points with eight rebounds.
PLAYER TO WATCH
After going down with a wrist injury late in her rookie year, Boyd missed the final four games of the regular season and all of the playoffs, but still went on to be named to the 2015 WNBA All-Rookie team. Early in camp, much of the talk has been about her transformation into a lead guard, earning praise from Laimbeer and Charles. This will be her first game action since suffering that injury; she averaged 6.6 points and 2.3 assists per game last season.
Three-point shooting played a big role in Chicago’s preseason win over New York last year, with the Sky shooting 7-for-11 (.636) from long distance, while the Liberty was just 3-for-12 (.250). That actually was a theme for New York all of last season. Despite leading the league in opponent scoring (71.1 ppg) and field goal percentage (.393), thanks to tremendous interior defense, the Liberty ranked 11th in opponent 3-point field goal percentage (.348).