Liberty battling injuries, COVID-19, look to get on roll
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Liberty are a work in progress. When coach Sandy Brondello took over the team this year she knew it would take time for the players to gel on the court.
With players showing up late for training camp because of overseas commitments and others dealing with injuries and the coronavirus, the process has gotten off to a slower start than expected.
“It’s getting healthy players back that will help,” Brondello said. ”The players that are out are impact players that will make a change. We’ll have to find ways to deal with not having Betnijah.”
New York will be missing guard/forward Betnijah Laney for approximately the next two months after she had knee surgery last week.
The Liberty have won two of three games since it was announced that Laney would be out.
Stefanie Dolson, who came home to New York in the offseason, was on the champion Chicago Sky last season. That team started out 2-7 before getting on a roll.
“We have a lot of people injured. Training camp we had people in and out with COVID. A lot of people don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors,” Dolson said. “We haven’t had an entire roster this whole time. I think it’s something we’re trying to fight through and figure out how to play with each other. I see similarities between last year and this year. There’s still a lot of basketball to play through.”
The Liberty sit near the bottom of the AP WNBA power poll.
This week’s WNBA poll:
1. Las Vegas (10-2): Kelsey Plum stepped her game up with Jackie Young sidelined due to an ankle injury. Plum matched her career-high with 32 points in the team’s win over Dallas on Sunday.
2. Connecticut (9-3): Jonquel Jones had a strong week, averaging 19.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists as the Sun went 3-1. A return to her MVP form would be huge for the Sun, who are rolling after a strong trip out west. .
3. Chicago (7-3): The Sky had their best week of the season, winning all three games. They are one of the most balanced teams in the league on offense with eight players averaging more than seven points a game.
4. Washington (7-5): The Mystics should have Elena Delle Donne back in the lineup when they face Chicago on Wednesday. The 2019 MVP missed Sunday’s matchup due to load management. The team has been cautious with her playing time since she’s returned this year after two back surgeries.
5. Atlanta (7-4): The Dream are starting to get contributions from other players besides rookie Rhyne Howard and are probably the biggest surprise in the early part of the season. Nia Coffey had a double-double in the team’s last game and Erica Wheeler has been playing well also.
6. Dallas (6-5): The Wings will host Seattle for a pair of games a week after holding the Storm to just 51 points in a win. Dallas has only played three games at home this season — tied for the fewest in the league.
7. Seattle (5-5): The Storm are finally at full strength with Sue Bird and Ezi Magbegor back in the lineup following COVID-19 protocols and Mercedes Russell returning from an undisclosed injury. The Storm play Atlanta next and then two games in Dallas.
8. Los Angeles (5-7): After finally having some time at home following a brutal start to the season on the road, the Sparks can focus on improving their defense. Los Angeles is giving up 87.2 points a game; only Indiana gives up more.
9. Minnesota (3-8): The Lynx have had success against New York with two of their three wins coming against the Liberty. They’ll need to figure out ways to beat other teams to turn around the rough start.
10. Phoenix (3-8): The Mercury snapped a seven-game losing streak on Sunday, but now will try to find some consistency on offense. Phoenix hopes to have Tina Charles back this week when it faces Atlanta and Washington. Charles has missed the last few games with a shoulder injury.
11. New York (3-8): Sabrina Ionescu lately has been a bright spot, averaging 26 points in the past three games. The Liberty will need to find consistent scoring options to help her out on offense.
12. Indiana (3-10): It was a rough offensive week for the Fever, who averaged just 71.6 points in three losses. Coach Carloes Knox needs to find another consistent scorer to complement Kelsey Mitchell.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Kelsey Plum of Las Vegas was voted the AP Player of the Week after averaging 24.3 points 6.7 assists and 4.0 rebounds to help the Aces win two of three games last week. Ionescu of New York, Alyssa Thomas and Jonquel Jones of Connecticut also received votes.
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Aces at Sparks, Saturday. Liz Cambage will face her former team for the second time this season. Cambage had just 10 points in the first meeting on May 23 that Las Vegas won by 28 points. The Sparks survived a grueling start to their season when they played nine of their first 12 games away from home by going 5-7.
More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports