Michaela Onyenwere (309077)
Credit: Bill Moore photo

The WNBA Playoffs continue as the remaining teams battle to reach the final and win the title. For the New York Liberty, it is already the off-season. After a 12–20 season and the Liberty’s first playoff berth since 2017, the players and the coaching staff are pleased with their progress but nowhere near satisfied. In the team’s exit interviews with the press, players spoke about continuing to grow individually and collectively.

“We know what we’re capable of, so demanding that of ourselves from the very beginning I think will go a long way,” said Sami Whitcomb. “Everyone going away and working on the things we know will help us next year.”

While no doubt all the players will be working on aspects of their games, it remains to be seen who will be with the Liberty come training camp next spring. “I think with any team you’re trying to keep a core group together,” said Whitcomb. “It’s hard to get that chemistry and experience as a group if you’re not keeping some kind of group together. So obviously that’s vital.”

Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins said the starting point for next season will be the high level at which the team finished this season. The message management gave players in their post-season interviews was positive and looking toward the future. Players were told to use their time overseas to be intentional in refining skills and strengthening weaknesses. Hopkins said he will stay in touch with the players.

“It’s really a young group, not just in age, but also in experience in a lot of ways,” said Hopkins. “Coaching staff, Jonathan [Kolb, general manager], we’re all still learning. The idea is that we get to start training camp with the ferocity, focus, intensity and leadership that it really took us this season to figure out how all those pieces fit together. There’s not a shortcut for that.

“I think we’ve got the vast majority of pieces in place right now,” he added. “The potential of this group is tremendous. It’s not just the individual growth but it’s also the collective growth of how they play with one another within this system. … They come in with that knowledge now.”

Rookie forward Michaela Onyenwere swept the WNBA’s Rookie of the Month honors and was named Associate Press Rookie of the Year. Guard/forward DiDi Richards was named to the AP All-Rookie Team.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” said Onyenwere, who will play in Spain during the off-season. “I’ve been really adaptable throughout this process and it’s definitely helped me for the long run.”