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Bill Laimbeer loves Liberty's talent, excited about Kiah Stokes

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New York Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer gives his outlook on this year's team, Kiah Stokes' vast potential -- which includes her starting this season and the long-term vision of how team was constructed.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Swish Appeal: What newcomers have stood out this preseason?

Bill Laimbeer: "All of them. I'll start with Kiah Stokes, who will start for us opening night. A very steady player. Smart. Always in position, shot blocker -- and we didn't know she was this good of a shooter. She can shoot the three ball with the best of them. Now it's getting her to look for the shot. She's not trained to do that so we're working on that one intensely. But she's really good shooter.

"Second one would be Brittany Boyd. She's really fast with the ball, has great vision. (It's) going to be an adjustment learning the size of the players in the league and the speed of the players. She's shown tremendous improvements throughout training camp. She's going to play significant amount of minutes for us. She brings a different dimension to the game.

"(Boyd) makes us go fast. So that's a big positive for us. She'll compete in our second unit, (and) we have some runners in the second unit. One of them is Rebecca Allen from Australia. She's been doing pretty well since she walked in the door. Deep three ball (and) very fast in transition, tall and lanky. (She's) a solid defender gets her hands on a lot of balls. I expect her to play a significant amount of minutes too."

SA: How would you compare this team to your old Detroit Shock teams?

BL: "Different style. Not as physical as the team I had in Detroit. We were big and physical across the board at all positions, from (Elaine) Powell to Ruth Riley. This is a little different; this is a very skilled big basketball team. We have shooters, some speed, Tina is a very skilled big. Our depth is tremendous.

"I have a playing time problem with 8 good players, and that's without (Epiphanny Prince), so when Prince comes, I really have a playing time problem (laughing). But overall, I think we are deeper than the Detroit team. It's similar in we have a lot of young talent lot of athletic talent. We're probably more skilled, but at the same time, they were more physical."

SA: What was your assessment of Kiah Stokes coming out of college?

BL: "Solid defender, shot blocker. (It's) hard to block shots in the women's game and not foul. (She's) really long and has great timing, and a solid rebounder. You look at her rebounds per minute played, she's a solid rebounder and didn't play many minutes. Those two big things: I looked at her as a glue player alongside Tina or in the worst case, a 3rd post.

"But she's proven herself. She's going to be a really good WNBA player for a lot of years. I don't think spectacular, but in theory she can be a double-double, 10-11 points and 10 rebounds."

SA: What made you decide to trade for Prince?

BL: "Consistent scoring. She's very consistent; she gets her 15, she can get 25 at times, but that every night you know what you're going to get points-wise in a consistent manner. (Prince) shoots a good percentage, she's a veteran, and she knows what she's doing out there, and doesn't panic.

"That's our biggest thing in the past two years, we've really struggled scoring here in New York. I don't think that's going to be the case this year. I think we're going to push the ball up and down the floor a lot, much better shooters better contingent of three-point shooters. We're looking forward to a better consistent offense."

SA: How do you feel about this year's team?

BL: "I really like this team for a few reasons. One, these are good kids, the chemistry is really solid across the board. We're deep and have a lot of players. We have a good mix young players and some veterans. They're fun to be around and they play really hard. They hold each other accountable. As a coach, you can't ask for much more than that.

"I keep telling people I don't quite have a handle on how many wins/loses we will have this season. We really have to get out there and start playing. We only have one player from 2 years ago, and that's Essence (Carson), so we're all new together. How fast we can gel, both offensively and defensively, is going to be a determining factor on how well we do this year.

"It could happen overnight, or it could take a significant amount of time. I don't quite understand which way it's going to go yet. I have my guess, but I've been wrong before (laughter)."

SA: Any final thoughts?

BL: "(Kiah Stokes) is going to be a solid professional, she's tall. She's long she's athletic. She's not going to be the flashiest person, but at the end of the day, you're going to go away thinking, 'Oh hey, she can really play basketball.' This team we put together we put together for a reason. One, we tried to be competitive right now., which we very well could be.

"But our eye was on the next 2-3 years. All these players are in their 20s, except for Swin Cash and Tanisha. They're here for leadership, they can play too. But team was built for the next couple 3, 4, 5, 6 years, not only to be competitive, but for the fans to grow with. This is going to be a fun team to watch for a long time. The fans can grow up with some of the younger players, latch onto them and have a lot of fun."