It’s still a long way to go in the WNBA season, but the Liberty have come through a potentially disastrous stretch to stay within reach of the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference. Assessing their playoff chances is premature. The Liberty still has 19 regular season games remaining, 11 of them on the road, after facing the Connecticut Sun last night (Wednesday) at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. They will be away from home again tomorrow night for a matchup with the Atlanta Dream.
The Liberty were four games under .500 at 6-10 and fifth in the six-team East before playing the Sun, who were first in the conference at 12-5. The Liberty are also looking up at the Dream, who were 8-8 after ending a four-game losing streak on Tuesday by defeating the Dallas Wings in Atlanta 80-75. The Liberty had a longer string of consecutive losses, dropping seven in a row from May 11 to May 29 after defeating the Sun 81-79 in the season opener.
They were a reeling 1-7, battling injuries and uncertainty under veteran head coach Sandy Brondello, who is in her first year guiding the Liberty. Brondello was formerly the head coach of the Phoenix Mercury from 2014-2021, leading them to the 2014 WNBA title and two Finals appearances, as well as head coach of the San Antonio Silver Stars in 2010. So Brondello’s experience on the bench was key to the Liberty persevering through their early struggles.
They were 5-3 in their previous eight games going into Connecticut. They also welcomed back guard Didi Richards, who played her first game on Sunday since May 13 after sitting out over a month with a hamstring injury. She logged 13 minutes off the bench in only her second game this season in the Liberty’s 81-72 loss to the Seattle Storm at the Barclays Center.
The game marked native New Yorker Sue Bird’s last regular season WNBA game in her home area. Last week the 41-year-old Syosset (Long Island) native, who played her high school ball at Christ the King in Queens and collegiately at UConn, announced she would be retiring at the conclusion of this season. Bird scored 11 points and had four assists for the Storm.
The 5-foot-9 point guard has authored one of the most accomplished careers in the history of basketball, including winning four WNBA championships, two NCAA championships and five Olympic gold medals. Her individual accolades are stunning. Bird is a 12-time WNBA All-Star, five-time All-WNBA First Team selection, the WNBA all-time assists leader and the 2002 AP College Player of the Year.
After tomorrow, the Liberty will be off until next Thursday when they host the Dream in Brooklyn.