NEWARK, NJ - An 'E' for effort? Not quite. A 'D' would be more in line.
The New York Liberty were handily defeated by the Minnesota Lynx Tuesday night at the Prudential Center. The 73-47 dismantling at the hands of the Lynx began just as fans were settling in. After four minutes, the Liberty had more timeouts (1) than points (0). Minnesota got off on a 7-0 run, led 18-9 at the quarter and never looked back.
"We didn't have the intensity," Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. "To beat a team like Minnesota you need that intensity the full forty minutes. You have to compete the entire game."
There is a sense of frustration in the coach's tone.
"If we compete for forty minutes and get beat, I have no problem with that," Laimbeer said. "It is when we do not compete for the full forty minutes that concerns me."
The Liberty struggles were offensive. They allowed 73 points but points per possession revealed New York allowing just .90 per possession. A very good figure, normally enough to get you a victory. But definitely not when you put up 47 points and a per possession metric of .57, a number a struggling high school team might show.
The Lynx spread the wealth. Three double digit scorers were led by Lindsey Whalen with a 18 point, 6 rebound and only two turnover, performance. New York had only two players in double figures led by Cappie Pondexter with 13 points, but on 5 of 17 shooting.
In the quiet of the Liberty locker room players checked messages on their phones in Trappist monk-like silence. After being given ice for her feet by the trainer Pondexter spoke is hushed tone. The Liberty backcourt star is not bucking Laimbeer's assessment, yet she does not does not totally buy into the 'lack of effort' diagnosis.
"We are working hard, not letting up," she said.
Pondexter did go on to characterize the problem as mental errors, poor shot selection, and not making the right decisions.
Turnovers were not the problem as New York committed only a dozen on the night. The shot selection saw New York misfiring on 18 of 72 for a 25% field goal percentage. The 'mental' errors could also extend to the free throw line. - it is a non defended attempt, with an accent is on concentration. The Liberty shot just 50% going 9 of 18.
Problems extend beyond the charity stripe. Opponents are playing 'key on Cappie' until the Liberty find another consistent perimeter threat. Inside work leave something to be desired. Plenette Pierson had her moments with a dozen points against the Lynx. Kara Braxton, on the other hand, struggled with a five point showing in just 17 minutes.
Laimbeer is not singling out any player, players nor any single aspect of the team's performance. To the coach, it is a collective effort as New York desperately tries to find the right direction.
"To have chances to win against anybody we have to focus as a group," he said. "That means players, coaches, everyone. We all have to compete the full forty minutes."
For more on the Liberty's season, check out our New York Liberty season storystream.