Natasha Howard scored in double digits in her first New York Liberty game (304930)
Credit: WNBA photo

Only five games into the 2021 WNBA season and the New York Liberty has already doubled the wins from last season. Players coming from overseas have arrived and things are clicking. In Sunday’s 93–85 win over the Chicago Sky, Natasha Howard scored 12 points and pulled down seven rebounds despite not having had a full practice with the team.

“Coming from New York to Chicago and off a plane without actually practicing was pretty tough for me,” said Howard, who praised new teammate Sabrina Ionescu. “Especially, my first game playing with the team, it took me a minute to get in my rhythm playing wise. Other than that, I did an OK job coming in.

“I’m excited to be a part of this organization, this team,” she added. “My role on this team so far is me just doing me and me doing the things that I’m capable of doing to help my team—running the floor, the defense. Whatever they need me to do, I do it.”

Liberty coach Walt Hopkins praised the team’s ability to come back and score a win after a brutal 72–101 road loss to the Washington Mystics on Friday, in which former Liberty center Tina Charles lit up the Mystics with 34 points and former Liberty guard Shavonte Zellous added 11.

“We got reminded of all the things we need to do to be the team that we want to be, and I thought the way we responded today against an extremely good Chicago team was heartening to say the least,” said Hopkins following the Chicago victory, the Liberty’s fourth win of the season. “[The vets] are resilient people. I try my best in whatever way to provide them confidence and to let them know how much I trust them.”

Hopkins continued to praise Sami Whitcomb, a largely unsung guard that turns 33 this summer who won two WNBA titles with the Seattle Storm. “Part of it is that she’s worked so hard in her career to even be in this league,” said Hopkins. “What she’s doing right now as a leader, as a catalyst for us in huddles, in the locker room, in practice, on the court, she’s doing everything I’ve asked.”

Howard also spoke about Whitcomb, with whom she played on the Storm. “It’s like we never left,” said Howard. “I’m happy that she came along to the East Coast.”

The Liberty take on the Atlanta Dream at Barclays Center on Saturday afternoon.