NEWARK, NJ - In a noon matinee game at the Prudential Center, the New York Liberty gave as good a performance as you can get. They led virtually the whole way en route to a decisive 91-69 victory over the Atlanta Dream. Liberty coach John Whisenant was pleased but there were concerns on his mind which were not surprising.
In the third quarter Plenette Pierson of the Liberty was involved in a collision and exited the game. Whisenant said during post game interviews that the team doctor had yet to arrive at the severity of the injury. Naturally, the Liberty mentor was hoping for "a knee strain or sprain," not the dreaded letters as in ACL. Pierson represents a good inside presence on a team that needs production in the paint on a regular basis.
On the defensive end the Liberty gave a resounding performance. They stopped Atlanta's transition game. The Dream did have an 11-4 edge in fast break points but the margin proved inconsequential considering the Dream managed 41% shooting from the floor (including 0 for 7 from three) and committed 18 turnovers.
The Liberty offense registered a 46% mark from the field, however they were 9-of-15 from three which translates to an impressive 52% eFG mark. Efficiency was the key as the Liberty limited themselves to 10 turnovers, a 13% TO Rate in an 80 possession game.
A walk into the Liberty locker room after the game showed a board with seven priorities outlined by assistant Lady Grooms. They were :
1. Transition D
2. On Ball D
3. Block out!!!
4. Whiteline (move with flight of the ball, take a charge)
5. Attack on the run (they do not get back , work inside/outside)
6. Convert easy shots
7. Have fun!!!
Whisenant praised and expressed apprehension over the Dream's "speed and ability to get up and down the floor". He was pleasantly satisfied in his club's ability to get back defensively and locate shooters.
The Liberty were outrebounded 40-35. The rebounding is a priority and Whisenant praised Quanitra Hollingsworth (10 points, 6 boards), "who is coming on strong," per the coach. He plans to work Felicia Chester, a rookie out of DePaul, into his frontcourt rotation.
While the Liberty capably addressed their pre-game priorities, it was refreshing to see number seven posted on the board. Simply, players should have fun. Unfortunately, there are times they must be reminded. And this is with players on all levels. The professional ranks are a 'job' but you are working at something you (should) enjoy, in the athletic prime of your life. Playing basketball, getting remunerated for it and competing. What is not to enjoy?
The win was the Liberty's fourth straight. They have captured six of their last seven. Nicole Powell led all scorers with a season-high 20 points. Powell was lights out, 7 of 8 from the floor, a perfect 5 of 5 from three point range. She also tied Erika DeSouza of the Dream for rebounding honors with seven boards.
"Sometimes the media and fans get caught up in scoring," Whisenant said. "Nicole has played well for us. Until today she hasn't shot the ball as well but when I had her in Sacramento she shot very well."
Angel McCoughtry, the former Louisville star, led the Dream with 17 points. Even though she paced her team in the scoring column it wasn't a vintage McCoughtry performance as she shot 5 of 18 and committed 6 turnovers.
Liked the play of Atlanta's Courtney Paris. She provided an inside presence with 9 points, 6 rebounds during a limited appearance. Paris logged only 10 minutes. She is yet to play over 20 minutes in an outing this season as her 6-4 250-pound frame is just a deterrent conditioning wise.
Liberty is now 8-5 with Atlanta falling to 3-9. Crowd was listed at 14,314 with well over half that total represented by camps and youth groups.
Back with statistical insight tomorrow....
Finally, a congratulations to our USA women's soccer team with their victory over France. We had a courtside monitor showing the action during the Liberty game. And all on press row but any journalistic impartiality aside. Great win for the USA ladies!