In a release that I sadly expected, it was announced this morning that Liberty guard Essence Carson will miss the remainder of the WNBA season after suffering a torn ACL in Friday's loss to the Atlanta Dream.
Carson had been expected, and had done so admirably, to play a larger role under Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer as a defender and secondary option outside of Cappie Pondexter, who's struggled so far this season based on the lofty standards she's set for herself. Carson had been averaging 14.3 points and shooting 55% from the field in about 30 minutes a night. Factoring in her 86% shooting from the line and 5.5 rebounds per night, this leaves a large hole in the New York gameplan each night.
Carson's effect could also be seen in the win and loss column as in New York's victories this season, she's averaged 19.5 points and 5.5 boards on 69% shooting. In New York's losses, Carson's production slipped a bit to 9 points a night and 5 boards on 43% shooting, albeit one of those games was the game in which she got hurt and only played about ten minutes.
Considering the struggles the team has had in years past relying on Pondexter to carry the team to the promised land, Laimbeer will be in dire need of someone stepping up to the plate in Carson's absence. When looking at options currently on the roster, one would expect Alex Montgomery to possibly see more minutes with Katie Smith likely joining the starting lineup as a stabilizing point with rookie Kamiko Williams seemingly penciled in as the current starting "lead guard" of choice for Laimbeer's squad.
There's also the distinct possibility of seeing Plenette Pierson playing a bit more 3. Laimbeer had mentioned in the offseason that giving PP a chance to step out a bit more was an option that he was considering. Now we haven't seen much of that so far this year, but the simple fact that he mentioned it, means that he's not afraid of giving it a look. Not many people were thinking of Kamiko Williams as a WNBA prospect, much less a starter, so it's not unlike Laimbeer to pull a rabbit out of the proverbial hat and make it work due to the confidence that he instills in his players.
Personally speaking, I don't think this would be that bad a move, but that's considering that Cheryl Ford is able to play sometime soon. Playing Kara Braxton next to Kelsey Bone hasn't worked much so far for the Libs so moving Pierson would require someone to step in and play those minutes at the 4 and Toni Young doesn't seem ready just yet so that's probably not even crossing Bill's mind.
I'd expect Montgomery to step into a larger role with Smith taking over the starting role for the immediate future but with Carson going down it seems likely that "Trader Bill" will mull over his options and consider making a move for some help. The loss of Carson should really change his decision of having Cappie handling the ball as she's the only real offensive threat from the wing now and the responsibility of having to handle the ball as well as create the offense for her squad puts a slightly larger and easily distinguishable target back onto her back. But then again, this is Bill Laimbeer we're talking about and he described the job as "simply bringing the ball up the floor, passing it off and getting it back."
As the Liberty go forward trying to figure out which direction to go, we definitely don't want to forget the reason for this discussion: take care and get back soon Essence!