Liberty Sends Appreciation With Win In Season Finale
The New York Liberty closed out the 2014 WNBA campaign with a win on Fan Appreciation Day over the Indiana Fever 73-61 at Madison Square Garden.
Tina Charles gave a speech which expressed the Liberty’s disappointment in not making the playoffs, promising to do the work necessary to make it next year, and making her return to New York smooth with their continued support throughout the year.
The game which followed was physical and taxing. Even without starters Briann January, Tamika Catchings, and Erlana Larkins, Indiana was stubborn. “We did what we wanted to do,” Fever head coach, Lin Dunn explained. “We got to rest some of our starters before the playoffs and give our backups quality minutes.”
The scoring was balanced on the Liberty side as Charles and Pondexter were worked for limited minutes and Shanece McKinney and Plenette Pierson played major minutes. Plenette, in particular led the way with 15 points. A difficult proposition since this final game had no playoff implications but Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer saw improvement. “The team worked very hard this year. We had our moments when we didn’t show for a half and got beat up.” Laimbeer reminded. “But in practice and in games I thought our effort was solid all year.”
The hopes for next season are the same for this year. Highlights of the season included the arrival of Anna Cruz from Spain, Tina Charles All-Star season which saw her lead the WNBA in double doubles with 17. Essence Carson late return to form and the improvement of young talent like Alex Montgomery and Sugar Rodgers. Cappie Pondexter, who conceded the spotlight to Charles this season is still the catalyst. “We won more games than we did last year. Player development was better.” Cappie explained. “We had some great games where we looked really good. We were right there. “Laimbeer has an idea what’s needed next year. Swin Cash, who had six assists in this finale was a player he wanted earlier but with Cash coming back next year, he will pick up from there and begin looking at needs. “We need scorers. Most teams have three, four double digit scorers. We need someone who can get us 11, 12 points a game.” Laimbeer explained. “Essence, I feel will come back and be one of those scorers, but that’s only three. You have to share the wealth to get us over that 70 point plateau.”
In the mix of activity, Indiana Head Coach Lin Dunn will be retiring after a stellar career. This game marks the end of her regular season career as she looks to extend it in the upcoming playoffs. “I’m still going to be around the game.” Dunn explained. “I’m also going to get involved in social causes such as a woman President in 2016, Equal Pay for Equal work, LGBT Rights, or basically anything that empowers and helps the causes of women.”
The Liberty finished 2014 at 15-19. The Liberty’s Cappie Pondexter, at 31, still has an eye on the prize, a WNBA Championship, which she last held in 2009. “Its been two year’s where this franchise has not been in the playoffs to even contend for a title.” Cappie reflected. “When I first came here that was my vision- to bring a title here and it still is. I am just hoping that next year everybody is on the same page and that’s their vision as well.”
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