Where the team finished last season: 7-27
Roster losses: Epiphanny Prince, Shavonte Zellous, Sugar Rodgers, Mercedes Russell, Kia Vaughn, Marissa Coleman
Roster additions: Tiffany Bias, Han Xu, ReShanda Gray, Marine Johannes, Avery Warley-Talbot, Aida Durr
New York basketball is looking positive for the first time in a while, especially after James Dolan has finally relinquished some control of the franchise. Apologies to Knicks fans but we are, of course, talking about the Liberty, which is set to usher in a new era now that Joseph Tsai, a co-owner with the Brooklyn Nets has taken ownership of the WNBA franchise.
Last year was the first since 2014 that the team failed to secure a winning record, going just 7-27 during a miserable season. But the build up to this year’s campaign has been one of the most interesting in the W. What started with some great team building activity at center Tina Charles’ documentary red carpet – which profiles her father Rawlston Charles and his recording studio – moved on to a fun training camp (judging by Arielle Chambers’ timeline) introducing new players Asia Durr and Han Xu. But we also saw the return of Talia Caldwell and a preseason game against China in which Han dominated.
But as great as all this is. The true test begins at the start of the season.
Playoffs might be a tough reach given the strength of competition on the WNBA in recent years, but you can imagine the Liberty will upset a few apple carts along the way if they don’t make it.
Charles will likely lead in scoring once again, but the growth of Kia Nurse should provide a more balanced effort after her success at the FIBA World Cup last year.
In the 2018 season, Charles scored 10 points more than her nearest teammate, and while she is still clearly the most talented player on the roster there is a lot of excitement about the young talent coming in.
Asia Durr’s reputation coming out of college was a feisty scorer, despite her diminutive stature. But her lack of height will be easily compensated by Han Xu, who’s 6’7 frame towered over many during preseason games.
One unknown just yet is the French phenom Marine Johannès. Her wizardry with the ball makes her a scary scorer, and while she won’t start the season with the team, if the Liberty are not far out of a playoff hunt, her addition could provide the bolt of energy needed to make the final push.
The moment the team surpasses its win total of 7 games from last year, this season will be considered a success. If a few of those wins could come in the Barclay Center (where they will play a handful of games instead of the Westchester venue) the buzz around the Liberty will be on the rise. This should help season ticket sales and you can imagine a return to WNBA prominence in the not-too-distant future.