NEWARK, NJ - This is beginning to turn into a situation similar to the movie Groundhog Day - the action is continuously repeated.
The first half sees a competitive team carrying out the game plan. After intermission, the same team is deflated and the wheels start coming off the bus.
Such was the case in the New York Liberty's 88-66 loss to the Connecticut Sun on Saturday night at the Prudential Center. The Liberty led 34-33 at the half only to be dominated 55-32 those final twenty minutes.
Coach Bill Laimbeer's assessment of the situation was spoken in generalities.
The Liberty mentor spoke about "they (Connecticut) wanted it more" and "they starting hitting (10 of 21 from three) from the perimeter." But the truth goes beyond a team coming out stronger and finding the shooting range. The third quarter malaise shown on too many occasions by the Liberty goes beyond Laimbeer's post game assessment.
After pointing out the absence of stops and a short lived fourth quarter rally, Cappie Pondexter thought for a minute pondering the question why the Liberty are struggling after half time. Cappie's answer was virtually the only sound in another dead silent Liberty locker room.
"I really don't know what it is," Pondexter said. "We come out in the third quarter and do not hit shots. Then we start to lose confidence."
Beyond any technical tweak or offensive/defensive alteration, the Liberty guard feels the whole situation comes down to the collective, makeup of the team.
"We have to, as a group, find our way out of this," she said. "If there are adjustments we need to make them."
Right now, Pondexter and her teammates are puzzled by the scenario that has dropped New York to 8-12.
One advance scout with extensive college coaching experience sized up the Liberty: "I would let them shoot from the outside all day long - they do not have a perimeter threat."
It was suggested that Leilani Mitchell could be the answer. "You don't play, you don't score," the scout noted in reference to Mitchell's shrinking numbers.
For the game Kara Braxton (18 points) and Plenette Pierson (17) paced the Liberty attack. Braxton in the paint and Pierson on some nice pick and rolls. Pondexter added 17 but mostly on penetrations as she shot 5 of 13 and zero for three from beyond the arc.
"The Liberty have some inside players like Braxton," our scout added. "But no one could guard (Tina) Charles down low."
And on this evening few teams could complete that defensive task. Charles, was in MVP-like form, with game highs of 21 points and 14 boards.
Beyond stopping one player it all goes back to a collective team effort. Laimbeer, Pondexter, et. al. realize this. That is the first step: recognition. Now is the hard part: fixing the problem.
For more on the Liberty's season, check out our 2013 New York Liberty storystream.