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Taking a look at Sandy Brondello’s first day as Liberty coach

2021 WNBA Finals - Chicago Sky v Phoenix Mercury Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s the start of a new era. On Friday afternoon, the New York Liberty officially introduced new head coach, Sandy Brondello to the media and Liberty fans.

From there, she held a virtual press conference with the media alongside Liberty GM, Jonathan Kolb, and team co-governor, Clara Wu Tsai. Here are some highlights from the hour long conference. H/T @MylesEhrlich

—On joining Liberty:

“It’s exciting. It’s a new team, it’s a very talented team... I know we’ll be a better team in 2022, and I think these players are ready for that. Being a former player, relationships are important.”

—On leaving the Phoenix Mercury:

“I don’t want to look at the past now, but I had eight great years in Phoenix. I had eight great years with that organization... and this is a great fit for me, and I’m excited about that.”

“I don’t want to look at the past now, but I had eight great years in Phoenix. I had eight great years with that organization... and this is a great fit for me, and I’m excited about that.”

—On what Liberty needs

“They need to have more of an identify on defense - that’s the biggest area they can get better at, and I think I can help with that.”

—On utilizing Sabrina Ionescu and Betnijah Laney in the offense:

“That’s still a work in progress, but you know they’ll be a big part of the offense... it’s more about putting them in the offense where they can have the most success, because they’re a big part of the action.”

—On the rising number of women coaches in the WNBA:

“It means a lot. We’re all coaches. We’re not female coaches, we’re not male coaches, we’re basketball coaches. Still, it’s good to see women getting those opportunities. Former players getting those opportunities.”

On the Mercury-Liberty game in the playoffs.

“I’d watched the Washington game. You found that chemistry, that fight and that commitment... you guys had us — we had to change, with all the switching and aggressiveness.”

With free agency opening on January 15, GM Jonathan Kolb said the Liberty will be active.

“It’s not to be cliché, we just want to get better. This is a really good class. There are players we think we can go after and upgrade, so there’s actual depth to our team, and we’re not too top-heavy.”

Clara Wu Tsai, Liberty co-governor, also was on hand for the press conference. Wu Tsai who recently said she and husband Joe Tsai planned to invest in Liberty like they do the Nets talked about on supporting players on-court, off-court & into retirement

“incredibly rewarding.” she said describing the experience. “From my perspective, we’re really aware of this holistic view. Everyone wants to win a championship, but it’s beyond that as well.

New York Liberty v Seattle Storm Photo by Joshua Huston/NBAE via Getty Images

Adaptability was one of the big themes of the day. Throughout the call, Brondello mentioned that she could adapt her coaching style to fit the personnel of the roster she on hand. Last season, the Liberty were 10th — out of 12 — in defensive rating and 11th in overall net rating. As a team, they didn’t force enough turnovers and had issues grabbing rebounds. With a normal offseason, healthy roster, and

The theme of adaptability also extends to the offense. Although the Liberty were first in 3=pointers attempted, second in pace, and third in 3=point efficiency, their offense averaged a very anemic 96.1 points per 100 possessions, tenth in the W. Central to their issues was lack of paint shots. The Libs attempted the second fewest shots inside of eight feet in 2021, which in turn helped contribute to their lack of attempts at the free throw line. Diversifying the offense and working to get more paint shots will be a key to opening up opportunities for the team and taking some of the scoring pressure off of Laney x Ionescu.

Scoring was such a grind for the Liberty last year and their offense at times was overly reliant on threes as compared to driving to the rim. The roster as currently constituted has plus athletes on it so there will be opportunities for them to get easy baskets in transition and open things up for their stars to work.

With the playoff appearance last year and talent on the roster, we can officially retire the “hybrid rebuild.” Now that the Liberty have an experienced head coach leading them, they can build off of 2021 and enter the next stage of their journey. With ownership committing their time, energy, and resources to improving the team, the Liberty can continue establishing themselves in New York City and the standings. Getting a coach like Brondello is a great first step in where they’re aiming to go.