Liberty will use Olympic break to rest and recharge
TRACY JUSAY Special to the AmNews | 7/12/2012, 4:31 p.m.
The monthlong WNBA Olympic break is upon us, and for the New York Liberty, it could not have come at a better time.
A heartbreaking 82-84 loss to the Indiana Fever on Tuesday dropped the Liberty to 6-11 on the season, but looking past their record, what this team needs is time to get healthy. They're playing with a shortened bench, as Plenette Pierson is still sidelined with a left knee strain and Kia Vaughn is recovering from a concussion she suffered in their game against Seattle two weeks ago. Their bench got shorter during last Sunday's game against San Antonio when DeMya Walker injured her knee and could not return.
Looking at the Liberty's roster, it is obvious they're thin inside and have to rely on Kara Braxton and rookie Kelley Cain to step up their inside presence. Head coach John Whisenant has tried to fill the void by shifting Nicole Powell to the power forward position during moments in the game, even though her natural position is to play the wing as opposed to posting up inside. However, in cases like that, a coach will do what he needs to do to help get his team through trying times.
"We're so thin that it's difficult with our injury situation. It's hard to practice, and that's a barrier we just have to get through. Hopefully we can get healthy in the month off," said Whisenant. Because of the number of injured players, he reported they have not been able to have a full, complete practice. "We do a lot of free-throw shooting and walk-throughs."
It has been optimistically projected that Pierson will be able to play post-Olympic break, and by then, Vaughn should be cleared to play. Walker's status remains unknown, however. With Pierson and Vaughn back on the court next month, it will provide the Liberty with the inside presence they've lacked for the past few weeks.
Despite the Liberty's subpar record, team captain Cappie Pondexter remains hopeful of a turnaround in August. They are still within striking distance of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"During this Olympic break, we'll work on things and go strong in the second half," Pondexter said. "I'm staying positive. I believe that we'll make the playoffs."
The Liberty will have a month off to regroup and they will return to action at the Prudential Center on Aug. 16.