“I think there was definite growth, especially with the final games to make playoffs,” said New York Liberty veteran Rebecca Allen, the only player with the team from prior to 2019. “You really saw this grit. You saw us all coming together and also showing we had our style of play and our identity. I feel that was a massive step compared to last year.”
While the Liberty’s playoff berth did come down to the final regular season game, the team got stronger in the stretch, scoring three big wins to cement its spot. That carried into the first game of the playoffs with a win over the Chicago Sky. Although the Liberty did not advance to the semi-finals, hopes are high for 2023.
It has been noted that several top players in other franchises will be free agents after this season concludes. Head coach Sandy Brondello said the Liberty is just a few pieces off from a championship caliber team. “If we get the right pieces, that will help obviously us continue our development,” said Brondello.
“I think we need a little bit more toughness,” Brondello added. “This year…our toughest player was injured the whole year, and that’s Betnijah Laney. That obviously hurt us. We had to find other ways, and you adapt to the players that you have. When we’re all on the same page, things look great. Other times, we were inconsistent.”
Laney, the team’s leading scorer and an All-Star in 2021, spent most of the season on the sideline with a knee injury. She returned just prior to the playoffs and while not quite her best still brought offensive and defensive power. This was not her first knee surgery, and she credits her support system for getting her back in action.
“We saw glimpses of just how great we can be regardless of what was going on—injury, record, any obstacle we were dealing with—and still being able to make that playoff push was really good for us,” said Laney. “Just imagine if we had all of that the entire season, we’d probably still be playing right now. That’s something to hold on to and embrace as we move into the future.”
The WNBA playoffs continue with the semi-final round now in play. In the opening games the Seattle Storm edged the heavily favored Las Vegas Aces and the Connecticut Sun defeated the Chicago Sky.