It's always good to get back to work after some time away. You shake some rust off, test out what you’ve learned, and see how you measure up against the competition.
Last year, the New York Liberty couldn’t play in preseason as they didn’t have enough healthy players to field a team. Although Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones, and Courtney Vandersloot didn’t suit up, they had enough players ready to hit the court and make their 2023 preseason debut. They made a late push, but ultimately fell short against the Connecticut Sun on Wednesday morning, 63-57.
When it’s the first game with a new team, you tend to be a bit uncoordinated to a certain degree. It showed itself in the turnover numbers as New York coughed it up 20 times. Sandy Brondello lamented the lack of selflessness and told the team that they need to do a better job of playing hard. As the group works off the rust and gets members of the new Big Three back on the court, they’ll be able to get to where they want to be.
For most of the Liberty regulars, this was their first in game action in a while. Kayla Thornton played overseas and led all players in rebounds with eight in 20 minutes. Sandy Brondello had high praise for KT in postgame
Thornton has spoken about the energy she’ll bring to the team, and her versatility will come in handy throughout the season.
Sika Kone also had a great showing in her WNBA debut. The rookie big scored 10 points and was a ball of energy in the fourth quarter as New York made its run. Brondello has consistently praised Kone during camp as her high motor and boundless energy serves as a perfect spark coming off the bench.
Rebounding was a point of concern throughout the season in 2022, but they won that battle by four on Wednesday. With the increase in size and athleticism, that’s something Brondello will continue to focus on in training leading up to Opening Night on the 19th. We know how mesmerizing the Liberty’s offense projects to be. If they’re able to complete defensive possessions and own the boards, they’ll give themselves even more opportunities to do something special.
It’s been a rough couple of months for Rebecca Allen. She was expected to take on a huge role for the Australian Opals in the World Cup held in her home country of Australia. Her run got cut short after she suffered what was initially thought to be a minor injury. However, it turned out to be far more severe as she was later diagnosed with two fractured ribs and a collapsed lung. She underwent surgery and as a result, didn’t get to play for Valencia in Euroleague. Today was her first game back in a long time, and I asked her what it was like in her first game back:
“I’ll be honest, it’s an emotional thing for me coming back and playing this game. I don’t think anyone will ever know the mental side of that last injury has been for me. So to come back and play honestly with confidence is something that I am super proud of. I also love that I’ve got the support from everyone else here too, coaches and players so that helped.”
Coming back from any injury is daunting, and coming back from ones as severe as the ones Allen suffered are even more difficult. It’s wonderful to see her back in action and Sun fans are in for a treat with an Allen, Alyssa Thomas and Brionna Jones front court.
Across Allen’s seven years with the Liberty, New York fans got to see her versatility and excellence on defense first hand. In this game, Bec led all players with three blocks in the game and joked that she made Sabrina Ionescu a little mad with some of those blocks! She spoke about her versatility and said:
“I would always bring that to any team I come to. I think people forget my length, and that’s also what I use as an asset. So yeah, with that being versatile as the three, being a bigger three and also being able to guard smaller opponents, that that wingspan helps me.”
Allen is a good player to have on your ballclub, and it’s going to be exciting to see how she adapts to her new role in Connecticut.
The Liberty wrap up the preseason on Saturday afternoon in Vegas on Saturday afternoon against the Las Vegas Aces. Tip is set for 5 PM eastern time.