“Live the Game” was once again the New York Liberty’s motto for the 2012 season. No matter the end result, it was a sentiment that echoed around the locker room all summer long, despite the highs and lows. Now a week and a half removed from their first-round playoff exit, the locker room is quiet, dark and empty, as all of the Liberty players have gone their separate ways into the offseason. Currently, they are getting a few days of rest and spending time with family before joining their overseas teams.
Looking back on the season that was, the Liberty were setting new records, albeit not in a good way. After opening the season 0-5–the worst start in franchise history–they appeared back on track, winning three straight games to build their confidence as a team. The season itself was a tango of wins and losses, with the team never logging more than three consecutive victories before experiencing another short losing streak.
Despite having a handful of talent, nothing came easy for the Liberty this season. The first half of the summer had key players plagued with injuries, leaving the team shorthanded during games. Plenette Pierson started the season with aggressiveness, but ended up being sidelined from the middle of June and into the Olympic break due to a leg injury. With Pierson out, this left the Liberty thin in the frontcourt, and their bench got shorter when Kia Vaughn missed two games due to a concussion. While they did have other post players on their bench, such as Kara Braxton and DeMya Walker, it was Pierson and Vaughn the team depended on most.
Cappie Pondexter remained the perennial superstar of the team, averaging 17 points per game to go along with 4.5 rebounds and five assists for the summer. As team captain, she buoyed the Liberty through tough times and stayed confident that their season would turn around. And it did, as evidenced by their 9-7 finish after the Olympic break, which included one of their best wins of the season against the Los Angeles Sparks.
Looking ahead to 2013, there is obviously much room for improvement. The top priority on the list is their consistency and mental toughness.
“We should all take the time overseas to work on our games and our mental toughness,” Pierson stressed. “I think mental toughness was something we lacked sometimes.”