After a 1-4 start to the 2022 WNBA season, the New York Liberty have gotten a much needed break. They haven’t played since a 27-point loss to the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night and will be back to work this Tuesday as they hit the road to face the Minnesota Lynx. With the time off, the team has gotten a chance to rest, recover, and fine tune some things. The season is young and the team has potential.
On Saturday afternoon, NetsDaily took in Liberty practice and got to speak with starting guard/forward, Rebecca Allen who will start for New York Tuesday after competing in the Spanish women’s league playoffs and struggling in the Sun blowout. going 1-of-9 from the field and committing two turnovers in 22 minutes of action.
Allen is one of the more important players on the team as her 3-point shooting and ability to cut to the basket should diversify the Liberty offense. Her size on defense will also help the Libs contend with elite perimeter players around the league. Here’s our conversation:
On the transition back to the United States after competing in overseas competition:
“It’s been good now that I’ve had a couple of practices. I think when you start getting those good feelings and you start remembering the dynamics that you’ve had with your teammates on the court. It’s actually been really great that we’ve had these days of practice between games for everyone.”
On how she rated her debut on Tuesday against the Connecticut Sun after just returning to the US:
“I wouldn’t rate it highly at all. You wanna come out and still perform, but I feel more prepared and everything for this next game as well.”
On the biggest goals Sandy Brondello and the coaching staff have been focusing on:
“To be quicker. We need to be a faster team, to get the ball out of the net. That’s been a big part of it. It’s also making good decisions in the open court as well. Making the right pass, the easy pass. Those have been two of the main points and then obviously some defensive breakdowns.”
On the importance of organization and synchronization on both sides of the ball:
“100 percent. Having that synchronization and knowing that you have the trust of your teammate behind you. [Natasha Howard] is a really great talker, a really great communicator and so you’re always hearing her in the backline. And so I think that also gives you the confidence to speak as well and talk to your teammates because then you’re all on a string, and you’re all sort of in unison. I think that’s gonna be massive for us and we’re just gonna keep building it each day.”
On the importance of having offensive diversity:
“It’s gonna be big and sometimes it’s not even for you to score, it’s to create for someone else. I just wanna bring in that part of the game by doing that and also by trying to get some offensive rebounds. Going there with the defensive rebounds as well and running and pushing the ball ahead. There’s those types of things. It’s not always coming off to score for you, even though if it’s open, obviously go for it. But then also to be able to create for others.”
On the biggest goal going into the game against the Lynx:
“I think the biggest goal is to translate what we’re doing here at practice. I think that’s the first step. I think we also built on today from what we did the other day. It’s constantly making these little victories is what Sandy said, too. And I really want us to play a faster game. That’s one of the biggest goals, personally, collectively. Play fast, move the ball, I think it’ll be more enjoyable playing like that as well.”
On making the right plays and not trying to make home run plays every possession:
“It’s gonna be massive. It’s also just going with the flow of the game. Sometimes, you might be off, it’s to not panic and then start making those homerun passes. Whether we’re up, we’re down, it’s level, I think just to stay with that calm way of playing, but also playing at two tempos of fast and slow and knowing when to use it.”
Allen hit on a lot of important points for her team. Currently, the Liberty are: eighth in the WNBA in pace, averaging a touch under 96 possessions a night; last in turnover rate at 24 percent; and last in rebounding as well. A lot of the Liberty’s turnovers have come from them trying to squeeze passes into tight windows and forcing the action
The big thing for the team is to push the pace while also, as Allen noted, not trying to make home run plays.
Help on the way
With Jocelyn Willoughby out for at least six weeks with a left quadriceps tendon tear and Didi Richards battling a hamstring injury, the team is need of some reinforcements. With that in mind, they signed the 2020 Rookie of the Year, Crystal Dangerfield on a hardship contract. From the team
Dangerfield will be available for the three game road trip and her first night out will be against her former team, the Minnesota Lynx on Tuesday night.
Dangerfield gives the Liberty another ballhandler and someone that can play point guard and run the offense. She’ll help take some of the playmaking responsibilities off of Betnijah Laney and Sabrina Ionescu’s shoulders and is someone that can attack plus finish at the rim.
Dangerfield will also help the Liberty speed things up and play with a faster pace. One of the goals of the team this season is to be faster and more dynamic on offense, and Dangerfield helps in both categories. She’ll help keep the tempo up and get the Liberty some much needed easy baskets in transition.