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Liberty Newbies Show Plenty of Promise in Preseason Loss to Atlanta

Liberty took a spirited run at the Dream but fell 85-72.

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

 

The youth movement that has suddenly been embraced by the New York Liberty was on display at Madison Square Garden for a pre-season matchup on “School Day” presented by Indigo Rein against Atlanta and Angel McCoughtry. In front of 14,530 fans, mostly kids, the Liberty took a spirited run at the Dream but fell 85-72.

“We finally found our rhythm,” Atlanta Head Coach Michael Cooper recalled. “We’ve had our lumps but our team’s intact.”

With the Liberty’ home opener upcoming against this same team there are quite a few things we learned. Youth equals mistakes, but youth also is served. The Liberty turned the ball over often, like their past members, the difference this time is it was in the spirit of taking chances and not playing to lose.

“We changed our entire roster from two years ago,” Head Coach Bill Laimbeer explained afterwards. “We made a decision to go in a different direction.”

This was well represented in the play of top draft picks Brittney Boyd and Kiah Stokes. The number one draft pick, Boyd, showed flashes of her quickness and moves but also got picked off often in attempts to push the action. Kiah, at center, blocked four balls while tussling with Erika DeSouza. Stokes scored nine points and grabbed eleven boards.

The Liberty’s Tina Charles, who led New York with 12 points, liked what she saw.

“I was happy for them. A lot of people don’t really get the opportunity to say they have played at Madison Square Garden,” Charles pointed out. “But again, I think everyone played with great effort.”

The positives we saw from the veterans were good to see. Sugar Rodgers’ eleven points drove the Liberty close in the first period. Essence Carson looked very healthy and moved well, hitting ten points. Swin Cash looked ready and Tanisha Wright looked like she is ready to claim the point guard spot in Epiphanny’s absence, with five assists and was very aggressive and vocal.

“Having Tanisha here to start being a leader, I think that is a big change for us this year,” Laimbeer explained.

Rebecca Allen from Australia was the most impressive. A lanky guard who resembles Ana Cruz, but taller and more skilled, looked comfortable with eleven points herself. The real issue now is not the talent, but, the chemistry.

“I think every day in practice has been very productive,” Laimbeer said. “I think the players are very responsive to the culture, what they want out of us, and what they expect from each and every one of us.”

The Liberty will travel to Minneapolis, Minn., to face the Minnesota Lynx on Monday, June 1, at 8 p.m. The regular season officially tips off next Friday, June 5, as the Atlanta Dream return to MSG. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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