Watch out New York, we’ve got a new sheriff in town!
Basketball Hall of Famer Katie Smith has taken her spot as head coach in her fifth season on staff of the Liberty. Her name speaks for itself.
With Charles continuing to be the foundation of the floor, Liberty looks to remain consistently successful in the regular season but are chasing a better postseason performance. New York finished their 2017 season with a 22-12 record and entered the Playoffs as No. 3 seed. However, the Liberty experienced back-to-back second round single-game elimination losses to the Phoenix Mercury in 2016 and Washington Mystics in 2017.
New York’s not only busy shopping for new players, their sights are also set on a new home court for the women. The Liberty will now use The Westchester County Center, as its primary stomping ground while playing selected games at Madison Square Garden.
James Dolan, the Liberty’s owner has publicly put the team on sale, but he will still own the team in the meantime until a suitable owner is found.
Offensive Rating: 102.9 (7th)
Defensive Rating: 98.9 (3rd)
Pace: 92.6 (8th)
The good - The Liberty had a WNBA-leading rebounding rate of 54.9 percent in the 2017 season. New York’s defense also held opponents to the lowest effective field goal percentage.
Also, Bria Hartley had a bounce back year after taking advantage of Epiphanny Prince’s absence during EuroBasket Women 2017 when she played for Russia. Hartley averaged a career high shooting percentage (41.6 percent) and also averaged over one made three pointer a game.
The bad - Hartley had improved statistics and Tina Charles was Tina Charles. But the offense was otherwise lagging behind the defense. They were in the bottom half for field goal percentage, three point shooting, and assists.
Who’s back and who’s new?
In addition to naming the all-time leading scorer in the history of U.S. women’s professional basketball (ABL & WNBA) as their head honcho, the Liberty re-signed many key players from their squad who hit some form of free agency last year, such as their designated core player, Tina Charles, post Kia Vaughn, and starting guard Bria Hartley. They also resigned reserve players Lindsay Allen and Rebecca Allen.
Joining the squad this offseason are free agents Reshanda Gray, Jillian Alleyne, Kelly Faris and Ify Ibekwe.
Bill Laimbeer, the head coach last year, left to be the President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach of the Las Vegas Aces.
The Liberty’s draft picks
In the 2018 WNBA draft New York will swipe the 1st round/No. 10 overall, 2nd round/No. 22 overall and 3rd round/No. 34 overall picks.
What does New York need?
Looking ahead, the Liberty should remain a Top-4 seed in the WNBA, but they need another puzzle piece to make an extended run for the championship.
During the regular season Liberty remains’ dominant of the Eastern Conference, especially in scoring percentages. Credit goes to the high statistics, however to acknowledge every team’s achilles heel - the team ranked in the bottom half of the league in both 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage last season.
This upcoming season, the Liberty could benefit from adding another scorer to the field, one who also has wide range beyond the arc. New York has plenty of smaller guards like Prince, Hartley, and Sugar Rodgers. Perhaps a wing player is a better fit with the 10th overall pick.