Stay consistent, stay optimistic. When you’re starting over, it takes time to see the vision you’re hoping to build. People need time to get comfortable, familiar with one another, and hope that good things go their way. Once you start to see good results come in, it validates the work you’ve put in and has you hungry for more.
On Friday night, the New York Liberty faced off against the upstart Atlanta Dream. The Dream have already tied their win total from all of 2021 and are one of the surprise teams in the league this season. They fell behind by as much as 19 points, but fought back to get as close as three points late in the third quarter, but the Liberty hit timely shots over and over again to come away with an 89-77 victory.
Ball movement has been critical to the Liberty’s success this month. Tonight was the seventh straight game in which the team has had 20 or more assists and as they’ve gotten that chemistry, they’ve cut down on the turnovers at the same time. Being able to make the most out of every possession is essential, especially when you’re still missing three of your best players. In the first, the Liberty hit seven three pointers in route to a franchise tying high of 16 threes made. This possession exemplified everything the team is looking to accomplish on offense:
We asked Sabrina Ionescu about the great passing the team displayed:
Sabrina Ionescu on ASTs: "We're all sharing the wealth, finding each other in transition, in pick-and-rolls. We've seen almost every defense by this point of the season, so we've practiced it. Having Marine, having Crystal, helps all of us as a team." (Q: @busyxb) #OwnTheCrown— Myles (@MylesEhrlich) June 25, 2022
There’s an art to getting timely buckets on the road. The home team is on an extended run, the fans are locked in and making noise, and the tide of the game is turning in their favor. With that in mind, Marine Johannes hit perhaps the biggest shot of the game with the Liberty clinging to a 65-62 lead
On the night, MJ had 17 points with five made three pointers in 30 minutes of game time. Johannes (and Didi Richards) got the assignment of guarding Dream star, Rhyne Howard. Howard has been one of the better finishers at the rim this season, and the strategy was to keep her from getting to the cup. On the night, Rhyne only went 6-18 from the field, with only four shots coming from inside the painted area. In the postgame, we asked Sandy Brondello about the job her team did against the young star, and she said:
Sandy Brondello on Rhyne Howard (6/18, just 4 attempts in paint): "We knew she'd get a number of shots, but we wanted them to be hard. We didn't want her to take threes; we wanted her to play downhill into congestion. She's a really good player." (Q: @busyxb) #OwnTheCrown #WNBA— Myles (@MylesEhrlich) June 25, 2022
As the team continues its climb, their work on defense will be essential. So to will be the collective effort on the glass.
Atlanta has been the second best rebounding team in the WNBA this season, but the Liberty wound up winning the battle by eight. If you dig a little deeper into that, you see that in the quarters that the Liberty won, they overwhelmed Atlanta on the glass, and in the quarters Atlanta won, they controlled the glass. Natasha Howard led everyone in rebounds with ten (along with 19 points, five assists, and two steals) and in the postgame noted that it was a team effort to keep an elite rebounding team like Atlanta off the glass. Win the boards, win the game. It’s a motto to live by.
Another dark day in the United States
On Friday morning, the Supreme Court officially reversed Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to an abortion among with other privacy rights established by it. The Supreme Court isn’t done rolling back rights yet, and are primed to do even more damage to this country soon enough. The reaction was swift as the WNBPA released a statement criticizing the decision from the WNBPA.
This ruling provides a treacherous pathway to abortion bans that reinforce economic, social and political inequalities and could lead to higher rates of maternal mortality while eviscerating rights to reproductive freedom for everyone. #BansOffOurBodies pic.twitter.com/ND8kcx3viL— WNBPA (@TheWNBPA) June 24, 2022
Stefanie Dolson tweeted about the ruling and its consequences as well:
This decision coming immediately after the 50th celebration of Title IX was a particular punch in the gut, as explained by Natalie Weiner of Fanbyte. In the pregame media availability, Sandy Brondello was asked about the ruling and if the team has had any discussions about it. Here’s what she said:
“We haven’t had any yet, but obviously we’re all thinking about it. For me, it’s mind boggling to be quite honest. It’s a disgusting result. We just had great things, 50 years of Title IX, and we’re taking steps [forward] for women’s rights and now we’re taking two steps back, basically because you don’t give them freedom of choice. It’s a woman’s body, so it’s very sad to be quite honest. People can buy guns easily, but a women can’t decide what she wants to do with her own body. I don’t know, it’s supposed to be the best country in the whole world, isn’t it?”
Times are dark, and we hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s always great to see an old friend of yours in their new digs. For the Liberty, they got to see AD for the first time since the trade earlier this month. AD came in the game and was an immediate sparkplug for the Dream as they got it going early and often.
On the night, they led the Dream with 23 points and two steals in 29 minutes off of the bench. In her postgame, Brondello noted that the isolation offense of Dream head coach, Tanisha Wright, allows AD to flourish and utilize their athleticism to make good things happen.
Leading the way
All eyes are on Sabrina Ionescu. The 2022 All-Star led the way with another all-around excellent performance as she scored 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and handed out eight assists on the evening. Ionescu had been struggling with her shot over the past few games, but snapped out of her funk by going 5-of-9 from 3-point range on the evening. Having Ionescu hitting her shots from three point range makes this Liberty offense even more dangerous as she’ll have room to drive to the basket and create space for the team’s post players as well.
And she wrapped this party up in style
The Liberty are off for a few days before returning home to face the Dream again on June 30. Tip is after 7 p.m. that night.