Special Features Interviews With Star Rookie Sabrina Ionescu and Head Coach Walt Hopkins
The YES Network will premiere its New York Liberty 2020 season preview special tonight at 9:00 pm ET that will feature interviews with the Liberty’s transformative rookie Sabrina Ionescu and the team’s new head coach, Walt Hopkins. YES’ Liberty Voices Chris Shearn, Michael Grady and Julianne Viani-Braen are involved in the special.
The YES Network will be televising 16 New York Liberty games this season, the first being on Wednesday, July 29, at 8:00pm ET, when they will take on the Dallas Wings.
Highlights of Julianne Viani-Braen’s interview with Sabrina Ionescu
The unique uncertainty surrounding this season:
Ionescu: “We get tested every day and there’s just so many protocols that we have to follow here. I think a lot of us want to get on the court more, want to spend more time practicing, but we really only have a certain amount of time that we can get to shoot and then they have to sanitize the court…and then the next team comes on, Sharing such limited space with the 12 teams that are here has been a little bit difficult and I don’t think anyone really expected it to be like that. You come in thinking that you can stay all day in the gym, which we would be if we were in Barclays Center, so I think really that’s been the only challenge. But they’ve been managing it really well and I think it’s been nice to just be able to play basketball with other people again.”
Coach Hopkins’ system:
Ionescu: “I think it’s been really similar to where I went to college and, you know, coach (Kelly) Graves (at Oregon) kind of had that same system, where he just let us make reads and play. He didn’t have to call a play every single time down, and I think that’s really been the same with Coach Hopkins. He kind of gives us the freedom to be able just to play basketball and use our basketball IQ and just make plays, and so I’m excited to enter this system and continue to learn new things and grow my game.”
Highlights of Chris Shearn interview with Head Coach Walt Hopkins
Hopkins: “She is her own toughest critic, as, you know, a lot of really good players are. She pushes herself really hard in practice. We’re limited on how much we can get into the gym and that’s new for her. She’s used to being able to come in an hour early if she wants to, stay an hour late, you know, those are some of, I guess, the challenges you know, that you were referring to. From what I can see on the court and from what we’ve seen as a staff and talking to players, she looks phenomenal. Not just her skillset, but also just the way that she leads. She does it with such ease and it’s so natural and she’ll do it in different ways; it depends on what the team needs.
Some days she can see that, you know, the energy is really high, and she doesn’t have to do a lot, she can focus on leading by example, not having to pull people along verbally. And then there are days where she quietly will pull people along when they need it. It’s really masterful how she does it, just in the first few days to see the way that she adapts her leadership based on the needs of the people around her.”
How well the team has come together, with so many new players:
Hopkins: “I think we’re setting the foundation for that right now, where people understand that it might be a tough day for somebody and then the people that are feeling better pick them up that day, and vice versa. Everybody is doing a really good job of being eager to support one another and I think that’s as good a formula as you can ask for in terms of, you know, once those inevitable bumps do come, we can kind of weather those a little bit better.”