Kara Braxton is still a work in progress for Liberty
TRACY JUSAY Special to the AmNews | 8/24/2011, 5:43 p.m.
It was Cappie Pondexter time Tuesday night, as she led the Liberty to a come-from-behind 74-70 road win at Phoenix. Pondexter scored a game-high 25 points, with 17 coming in the final 6:32 minutes.
While Liberty coach John Whisenant was elated with the win, he had some choice words for his newest player, Kara Braxton. Whisenant doesn't like to make midseason trades, primarily because it takes time for a new player to learn his system, but when the opportunity arose for him to fill a spot in his post rotation, he didn't hesitate and felt bringing Braxton to New York was the right decision.
"She's a big rebounder with experience, and if you look at our team, we've got four players who are 22 and a couple of others who are 24," said Whisenant. "Then all we have are Plenette [Pierson], Cappie and Nicole [Powell] with WNBA playing experience. So adding someone like Kara gives us a player who's been on a couple of championship teams who has proven she can score inside, and certainly she'll help."
Since Braxton was acquired earlier this month, she has made contributions whenever possible while still learning Whisenant's defensive system. After playing limited minutes at first, she has seen increased time on the floor over the past three games, filling in for the injured Quanitra Hollingsworth, out due to a sprained ankle.
"I just hope to bring a little physical presence inside," said Braxton, regarding Whisenant's expectations of being a veteran post player. "He wants me to be a vet and be a mentor as much as I can and help them out."
In the last week, the Liberty have won two of their last three games with Braxton playing extended minutes. While getting comfortable playing in a new defensive system isn't the easiest of tasks, Braxton has stepped up in crucial moments of games with her presence down low. Her best performance for the Liberty to date came during their 84-81 overtime win against the Connecticut Sun, where she finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
As the Liberty continue their three-game road trip this week, they will depend on her contributions until Hollingsworth returns to action. Pierson has high hopes for her teammate and is already aware of what Braxton is capable of from their playing days with the Detroit Shock.
"Her height brings a lot to this team because she's an agile post player who can get a lot of rebounds," said Pierson. "Having her makes us very big in the post."
The Liberty will finish their road trip against the Chicago Sky on Sunday, returning home Tuesday night, Aug. 30 to host Chicago and to honor Liberty legend Kym Hampton, who will be inducted into the Liberty Ring of Honor.