A rough day at the office. The New York Liberty played their first road game of the season on Wednesday night against the defending WNBA Champions in the Chicago Sky. The team started off cold and never warmed up as the Sky cruised to a dominant 33 point victory. It was their first win of the year and the Liberty’s first loss.
The opponent tonight will be the Indiana Fever. Indy is in full on rebuild mode and their team is looking to see what the future holds. They’ve been off since Tuesday after they beat the Minnesota Lynx.
Where to follow the game
For the first time this year, YES Network is the place to be. Twitter has the game as well if that’s your thing. Tip off after 8 p.m.
Didi Richards has been upgraded to probable as she has been dealing with a right hamstring injury. Rebecca Allen’s team lost in overseas competition and she might be back pretty soon.
Bria Hartley, Alaina Coates, and Danielle Robinson are overseas.
It’s Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Night at Barclays Center, and the fans in the house will be treated to some cool activities. Jackie Wilson, the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at BSE Global, parent company of the Liberty, Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, spoke about the event and said:
“I’m thrilled that the New York Liberty will host an AAPI Heritage Night for this first time this WNBA season to celebrate the community’s rich culture and tradition. Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage is deeply-rooted in the fabric of the entire New York community, and we have an amazing night full of programming planned for our fans at Barclays Center.”
It’s always great when the team shows love to different cultures and communities. Tonight should be great.
Han Xu made her first appearance of 2022 on Wednesday, and played pretty well in her nine minutes on the floor. Han lead the team in scoring with 10 and showed some nice touch in the low post. In the postgame, Sandy Brondello mentioned Han still needs to get re-acclimated to the pace and physicality of the WNBA game, but she’s off to a great start so far. The Liberty have two more games coming up, so she ought to get some more opportunities to make it happen.
The Fever have a bunch of exciting rookies, with one of them being Queen Egbo. The former Baylor center has been coming off the bench and is averaging close to two blocks a game in 19 minutes a night. Egbo’s offense is based at the rim, so the Liberty will battle to keep her off the boards tonight.
Didi Richards is set to make her 2022 debut tonight, and things are looking up for the super sophomore. Didi, along with Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, Te’a Cooper, and Nneka Ogwumike, were selected for this year’s edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. For Richards, this opportunity represents another opportunity to branch out and become even more well known in the design and fashion communities. Shouts to her.
On the court, having Richards back will give Sandy Brondello another ballhandler to keep things humming. In Richards, they have another frontcourt player that gives them some size and someone that can stretch the floor. Richards made 45 percent of the threes she attempted in 2021 and with this offense, she should get some more opportunities to make an impact.
Kelsey Mitchell is the lead scoring option for the Fever, and after the first week of the season, currently stands at fifth in scoring, averaging 19 a night on a .423/.364/.875 shooting split. She’s someone that can punish drop defenses
and we’ll see how the Liberty defense works to make things difficult for her.
Betnijah Laney came back on Wednesday night and although she struggled, it was good to have her back on the court. Laney gradually improved throughout the game, and although she noted the team was bad on Wednesday, tonight represents a great opportunity for Bee to show out in front of the home crowd. It looked as if the Liberty ran a few more post ups on Wednesday, so we’ll see what the offensive design is tonight.
Player to watch: Destanni Henderson
All you need is an opportunity. At Draft Night, Henderson fell a lot lower in the draft then was expected, and wound up going to the Fever at pick number 20. When life throws you a curveball, you either let it get you down or make the best out of the situation you’re in. Henderson is doing that in Indy, and some advice from her coach at the University of South Carolina, Dawn Staley, helped as well
“She told me that I’m in a good position because Indiana is rebuilding. They’re looking for people to come in the organization and make a change, make a difference, and win basketball games.”
Henderson is someone that can drive to the cup and make it happen at the rim, so look for her to be aggressive early and often.
Sabrina Ionescu will look to bounce back after being shut out on Wednesday night. Ionescu went 0-5 from the field as the length and trapping nature of the Sky defense made things difficult for her. This play, as pointed out by Mark Schindler of BasketballNews.com, stood out
Candace Parker gave Sabrina some nightmare fuel on these hedges last night pic.twitter.com/TI9YtLOwh2— Mark Schindler (@MG_Schindler) May 12, 2022
Just one of those days. The Liberty will look to see how they can make things a bit easier for Ionescu and get her back attacking downhill. The Libs couldn’t get anything going from three point range on Friday night, and if they’re able to get cleaner looks from deep, it’ll open everything back up for them.
From the Vault
Although she didn’t have the success she wanted as an executive with the Fever, Tamika Catchings’ impact on basketball in Indiana will never be forgotten
And a Friday mantra for all the folks who may need it, courtesy of H.E.R. and Jhene Aiko!
More reading: Swish Appeal
- New York Liberty Game Notes - New York Liberty
- Indiana Fever Game Notes - Indiana Fever
- Fever look to build on rally, Liberty hope to find one - STATS