This isn’t the start the New York Liberty envisioned, but a four-game losing streak, including consecutive blowout losses, and a couple of near-league records for futility are their reality.
The only way out is to play better, starting Tuesday night when the Liberty (1-4) visit the also struggling Minnesota Lynx (1-6) in Minneapolis.
New York hasn’t played since a humbling 92-65 loss at home May 17 to Connecticut. The Liberty nearly broke the WNBA records with 32 turnovers and 44 points allowed off turnovers. The league marks are 33 and 45, respectively.
New York hasn’t won since a season-opening home victory over Connecticut that seemed to validate all their lofty preseason expectations. The Liberty have allowed 87.0 points per game during their current skid.
“It’s all of us being better, myself included,” said coach Sandy Brondello, in her first season in New York. “It really does start with me.”
But it takes players to make any scheme work. So far, the Liberty players haven’t jelled. None of their top players are playing to form, while even the ones who are scoring some points aren’t doing so efficiently.
None of New York’s top three scorers — Sabrina Ionescu, Betnijah Laney and Natasha Howard — are making 45 percent of their shots. And all three are averaging at least three turnovers per game.
The Liberty aren’t likely to generate much sympathy from the Lynx. Minnesota’s 94-78 loss Saturday at Dallas continued a rough start in the final season of center Sylvia Fowles. Her standard of play (17.9 points, 9.9 rebounds per game) hasn’t changed, but the Lynx have been poor defensively.
The culprit in Dallas was a 36-point implosion in the third quarter that left coach Cheryl Reeve musing whether it was the worst defensive quarter of her team’s season.
“There’s always a quarter where our defensive rating is just not very good,” she said. “Until you find a defensive identity and you play with toughness and you don’t get outworked, this is going to be the result. This isn’t that hard.”
–Field Level Media