NEW YORK CITY - This served as a reminder - in case anyone, forgot this contest gave notice how difficult the WNBA is becoming.
The San Antonio Stars entered Madison Square Garden with a two game losing streak and a 3-4 record. The New York Liberty also had two straight losses with setbacks at Washington and Indiana. The friendly confines of the Garden though, were beckoning. The final score was not anticipated: San Antonio 87, New York 75.
In the post game presser, Liberty mentor Bill Laimbeer touched upon the idea of how good the players and coaches in this league are. As the coaching cliché says, there are no automatic wins. "You have to be ready and give an effort every time out," Laimbeer emphasized.
The Liberty coach also spent time pointing out the third quarter effort - or lack of it - on the home side. The Liberty trailed by a point at the half. In the third quarter they were outscored 25-10.
"We threw the ball all over the gym," Laimbeer said. "We had nine (actually eight per the stat sheet) turnovers that quarter. A lot of them turned into run outs and transition for them (San Antonio). It is one thing to throw the ball in the fifth row but when you give it away and they turn it into transition.."
Laimbeer did not seem angry or upset, rather a mood of perplexity was evident. The coach noted the practices leading up to the game were good and positive. There was no indication any melt down would occur.
"Our attitude when we got behind the third quarter was one where we put our heads down," he said. "We are not good enough to give up those turnovers (21 on the night) and overcome that."
He hopes his team is not falling into last year's succession of turnover prone outings leading to losses.
"Now, post game is not the time to air things out," Laimbeer said. "The next practice we will meet as a team, sit down, let everyone have their say and see what we can do to get through this."
San Antonio placed five in double digits led by Sophia Young-Malcolm with a game high 18 points. Jia Perkins added 17 shooting 7 0f 11 from the floor, 3 for 6 from downtown. As a team the Stars clicked on 50.8% of their attempts.
"We missed some defensive assignments the first half," Laimbeer said. "But credit San Antonio: they drained some long shots and playing with the lead shot the ball with more confidence."
On the liberty end, Tina Charles led with 11 points. Charles shot 4 of 10 from the floor as Laimbeer reiterated the need to get Charles touches down low.
Beyond the defensive assignments and offensive adjustments, the Liberty coach has concerns that are far deeper in nature. "Once they got the lead on us we just seemed to play with our heads down." This was much different than the positive vibes permeating the Liberty locker room nine days ago. Three straight losses have momentarily altered the collective psych. And, as noted, there are no ‘easy' games in sight.