Coming off last weekend’s All-Star break, the New York Liberty have reconvened with a sense of determination to significantly improve on the 7-11 record they received during the first half of the season. This new squad is aiming for a strong second half and a drive to the playoffs.
“We’ve struggled a bit, but I think we’re learning each other better than we did,” said rookie forward Toni Young, who has been finding her groove at the three spot. She’s familiar with the challenges that come with new players learning to play together, because when she started her college career at Oklahoma State, there were only four returning players on the team.
“As the season goes on, we’ll know each other a lot better,” Young said. “Hopefully, we’ll have pretty much the same team next year. We’ll be an entirely different team, because we’ll be more of a complete unit.”
Having spent her entire life in Oklahoma, Young admitted to being a bit overwhelmed by the traffic and intensity of New York City, but she is looking forward to the Liberty’s return to Madison Square Garden in 2014. By that time, she hopes fans will see a stronger player.
“I love playing the three position because I can use my quickness, but I want to put on some weight so I can battle with the bigger players,” said Young, who’s 6-foot-2, but only 160 pounds. “I’ve been trying to put on 20 pounds for four years.”
After the Liberty season ends—hopefully, after the playoffs—Young will work out for about a month and then head overseas to play in Israel, where she’ll continue to build up her game. As a rookie, she’s savored playing with veterans and tried to soak in as much wisdom as possible, especially from Katie Smith, who will retire after this season.
“As a team, our goal is to become a better unit,” Young said. “Individually, I want to become that player no one wants to guard.”
The Liberty play at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., on Saturday evening against the Connecticut Sun.