This week, the New York Liberty has some down time before traveling to Texas to face the Dallas Wings on Saturday. This nine-day break between games gives the team time to practice, iron out issues and focus on making the WNBA playoffs for the first time since 2017.
The Liberty has won one only one game since returning from the Olympic break. Its most recent loss came on Sept. 2 against the Seattle Storm 85–75. Despite coming out strong in the first half, the Liberty could not keep up with the fire power of Storm forward Breanna Stewart, who had 33 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
“Honestly, I think the best player in the world did what the best players in the world do,” said Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins. “Stewie took the game over and forced the referees to make a call one way or the other. When you’re the best player in the world, you tend to get the call more often than not.”
At 11–18, the Liberty stands in eighth place in the WNBA standings. The teams in ninth and 10th are right on New York’s heels and can easily surpass them. While this is clearly the best results the Liberty has had since 2017, it is disappointing to see so many losses after a strong first half of the season. Despite the loss to Seattle, Hopkins seemed less frustrated with the team.
“The place you’re seeing the growth is communication in terms of trusting one another,” said Hopkins after the game. “There were periods where people would be frustrated, say something under their breath, walk away from somebody when they’re trying to talk to them. They’ve been much more connected. I think that respect for one another, listening to one another, taking constructive criticism from your teammates, the team holding each other accountable in addition to the coaching staff, I really think they’re taking it to heart.”
On a positive note, it is likely Liberty forward Michaela Onyenwere will be named WNBA Rookie of the Year. Last week, she received her third Rookie of the Month honor of the season, the only rookie in the league to receive the monthly honor this season.
After the Dallas game, the Liberty takes on the league leading Connecticut Sun in Connecticut. Regular season wraps up at Barclays Center on Sept. 17 when the Liberty takes on the Washington Mystics, which is currently in ninth place and battling the Liberty for a playoff berth.