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Nicole Powell leads praise for Liberty's home in Newark

LOIS ELFMAN Special to the AmNews | 5/27/2011, 4:54 p.m.
Nicole Powell leads praise for Liberty's home in Newark

Forward Nicole Powell said the players felt a sense of electricity when they entered the Prudential Center for last week's "Welcome the New York Liberty to Newark" event. It was their first time there as a team with the floor down. Fans were on hand to welcome them with cheers.

"I feel we have to play up to the building we're playing in, it's so nice," said Powell. "I think the fans are going to absolutely love it. We're thrilled to be in such a nice facility."

The WNBA season does not begin until June 3-the Liberty start on the road on June 5-allowing for a later start to training camp than in 2010. This enabled everyone to arrive at the start of camp, which gives the players and new head coach John Whisenant time to find their rhythm. "It's so important to be together as a team," Powell said. "We have a new coach. We have a new system. We really need this time and wish that we had more time. Even during the season we're still going to be improving. It's a really great opportunity to have everybody together during preseason. It's great for our rookies, but it's also great for

the veterans." There are only 11 roster spots available, and Whisenant will have to make some cuts before the season starts."It's unfortunate we have to make cuts, but the energy has been fantastic," noted Powell. "I've been incredibly impressed with our rookies."

Powell said draft pick Sydney Colson is "a true point guard" and "a natural leader," even though it's bittersweet to feel Colson's positive aura after winning the 2011 NCAA Championship with Texas A&M. "They went through my Stanford Cardinals [Powell's alma mater] to win the national championship."

The Liberty played a preseason game at the Prudential Center yesterday against the Washington Mystics, and tomorrow they travel to Albany to face the Chinese women's national team. The regular season home opener is Saturday, June 11 against the Indiana Fever.

"I can't give enough compliments to the group that we have," Powell said. "The energy, No. 1, and No. 2, the focus. Sure it's competitive, but also at the same time, we're learning to work together as a group. We're going to be successful as a group and we all know that."