The 1st look at the 2017 New York Liberty came in the form of a pair of preseason games earlier this week at Mohegan Sun Arena. The results were split, with the Liberty handling the Sparks 81-65, and falling to the Sky 86-75.
There was a lot to analyze with all 15 active players seeing action in the preseason tournament. Take a look at some of the key takeaways as we approach the 2017 opener next Saturday at The Garden.
Bill Laimbeer has said that he expects this year’s team to push the pace more than it has in year’s past, and also shoot at a higher percentage from long distance. Last year, Sugar Rodgers was prolific from three, knocking down 86 shots from downtown, but Tina Charles was actually tied for 2nd on the team with 17 made threes.
In the game against Chicago, the Liberty showed off a bit of what it may be capable of, shooting .615 (8-of-13) from downtown while three different players connected on multiple 3-point shots. Rodgers nailed three 3-pointers, while Jacki Gemelos and Rebecca Allen were both 2-for-2.
The Liberty made one change in the starting lineup from game one to game two, taking the opportunity to see both rookie Lindsay Allen and Brittany Boyd open the game at the point. Against Los Angeles, Allen had 2 points and 3 assists, while against the Sky, Boyd scored 3 points with a pair of assists.
New York also has the opportunity to see combo guard Bria Hartley play either the 1 or the 2, giving Coach Laimbeer a couple of different looks to consider.
Throughout camp, a point of emphasis has been protecting the basketball, and cutting down on turnovers. Understandably with so many different lineup combinations on the court and new teammates learning one another, New York committed 18 turnovers in each game. Regardless, this is something that Laimbeer mentioned after both games, and is certainly a trend to look towards improving in the final warmup against Connecticut on Sunday.
MID SEASON FORM
Tina Charles was doing work against the Sky, looking every bit the player that led the league in scoring and rebounding in 2016, with an aggressive streak on offense. She scored 14 points against Chicago, also going 6-of-6 at the line with 3 rebounds, playing just 18 minutes. There is no reason to believe Charles will not repeat as one of the most dominant offensive weapons in the game, a year removed from sweeping the Eastern Conference Player of the Month awards and finishing 2nd in the MVP voting.
Amanda Zahui B and Epiphanny Prince have returned to New York, and Kiah Stokes and Shavonte Zellous will be back soon, meaning the New York coaching staff has a lot of work ahead to determine who the final 12 will be coming out of camp.
There were positive signs from a number of players in the preseason games, with Cierra Burdick scoring 10 points with 5 rebounds against LA, Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe scoring 6 points with a game-high 7 boards against the Sparks, and Gemelos combining to go 4-of-5 from 3-point range. Expect the heated competition to continue as Zahui B and Prince rejoin the fray.