Back on track in a major way. The New York Liberty hit the court on Friday night hoping to avenge a bad loss a few days earlier against the Chicago Sky. The Atlanta Dream were in the midst of an all time comeback, but the Liberty snapped out of it just in time. New York finished strong and cruised to a 23 point victory.
The opponent today is looking to climb the standings. The Dallas Wings are hoping to build off their own playoff appearance in 2022 into something bigger. They helped the cause by beating the Phoenix Mercury on Friday night to sweep a mini two game set between the teams.
Where to follow the game
YES Network, MY9, and ABC have us covered. Tip after 1 PM.
Nothing doing for the Liberty.
Diamond DeShields is out with a knee injury. Lou Lopez Senechal is out with a knee injury. Teaira McCowan is playing with Turkey in Eurobasket and won’t be available. Crystal Dangerfield is out with an ankle injury.
Before we discuss our game...
On Saturday morning, Brittney Griner and her Phoenix Mercury teammates were flying home after the previous night’s contest against the Wings. While they were at the airport, they were harassed by a right wing media personality. Security later had to tackle him and get him away from BG and her teammates. Brianna Turner explained what happened
Player safety while traveling should be at the forefront. People following with cameras saying wild remarks is never acceptable. Excessive harassment. Our team nervously huddled in a corner unsure how to move about. We demand better.— Brianna Turner (@_Breezy_Briii) June 10, 2023
Breanna Stewart reacted to this news and said:
The person who harassed Griner and the Mercury is someone who often does this kind of thing and is not worth mentioning.
This incident is a continuation of the discussion surrounding the league and possible charter flights. Prior to the start of the season, Sandy Brondello mentioned each time in the WNBA this season would be traveling with a security detail, a first for the league. This moment once again has put the onus of the league office and team owners to come up with a solution to address the players’ working conditions. We’ll see what transpires next.
Now, to our game...
It’s a homecoming! Natasha Howard is back in town after two terrific seasons with the Liberty. As part of the trade that brought Jonquel Jones to New York, Howard and Crystal Dangerfield were traded to Dallas. Jonathan Kolb paid tribute to Howard and said:
“Tash played a tremendous role in repositioning this franchise as a playoff contender. It was truly special to see a three-time WNBA Champion take a chance on us and embrace the challenge of elevating a young core to the extent that she did.”
You can trace the Liberty’s return to respectability back to the trade that brought Howard here from the Seattle Storm back in 2021. Howard's leadership and versatility empowered the Liberty to make it back to the playoffs and are in position to climb even higher heights. The fans ought to give her a standing ovation when she's announced in the pregame.
Howard will be matching up against her old Seattle Storm teammate. Breanna Stewart put together another excellent outing on Friday as her 25 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks kept the party going for NY on Friday night. Her size and malleability gives the Liberty defense length and athleticism all over the court and clogs things up for their opponents.
The two guard matchup promises to be incredibly fun. On one side, Sabrina Ionescu will look to follow up one of the best games of her career. Sab torched the nets in Atlanta on Friday as she scored a career high 37 points and made a Liberty franchise record eight three pointers along the way. The Liberty’s ball movement was fantastic and Ionescu was able to cash in on a variety of open looks throughout the night.
On the other side, Arike Ogunbowale has continued her scoring barrage. While Ionescu scored 37 points on Friday, Ogunbowale scored 35 points as she gave it to the Mercury every which way possible
On the season, she’s first in the W in minutes at 37.2 a night. She’s also third in scoring at 22.4 a night. However, if you poke around a bit, you notice something interesting. Her splits are at .379/.288/.882. The thing about scorers is when they’re on, they’re on fire. When they’re not, they are ice cold. For the Liberty, the job will be to make her shots as difficult as humanly possible. Betnijah Laney and Kayla Thornton figure to draw this assignment and their athleticism and toughness will be key to forcing Ogunbowale into a rough night.
Player to watch: Satou Sabally
It’s a family affair! The Sabally sisters are appearing in the same game for the first time, and for their fam in Germany, they can watch on one television and at a reasonable time (Germany is six hours ahead of New York). Satou spoke about what this weekend means to her and said:
“I’ll add on to that just how special it is to have two sisters competing in the best league in the world. And we’re not from here, so that just makes it even more special that we show how great European basketball is and how good Berlin pride can be as well. I think we’re making a lot of people proud at home and inspiring a lot of young girls to play basketball, to cross borders internationally. That it’s both of us, it shows mass, it shows numbers and it’s just a really great thing for women’s basketball in general.”
To borrow from Ari Chambers, the WNBA is so important.
Satou is playing like an All Star and has been one of the best players in the game this year. She’s first in rebounding at 11.3 a night and fourth in scoring at 21.8 points per game. She’s built on her first couple of seasons in the W and is putting it all together. Over at WNBA.com, Mark Schindler wrote about Satou’s improvement and said:
“Numerous people inside and around the Wings noted early in training camp that Sabally was stronger, and that’s played out on the court. She’s always had the coordination, handle, and touch that caused analysts to dub her a “Unicorn,” and that added strength has been substantial in unlocking her potential.
Drives to the rim that could have resulted in difficult angled shots, fall-aways, or turnovers last season have been parlayed into bruising finishes through contact. Her handle is a little tighter, her balance more in control, and all of the cogs of her skill set are in sync.”
As Dallas continues to get better, Satou’s presence will go a long way in pushing them into contention.
Nyara has been solid in her minutes thus far and getting better by the day. She’s impressed her teammates and coaching staff with her mobility and presence on the interior.
With more reps and experience, Nyara will continue to grow as a player. Going up against your sibling is always a fun challenge, and it’s going to be quite the sight when the sisters are matched up against each other.
From the Vault
This one's for all the dads out there
- New York Liberty Game Notes - New York Liberty
- Dallas Wings Game Notes - Dallas Wings
- Sabally sisters to play against each other for 1st time Sunday in WNBA game on ABC - Doug Fineberg - AP