2014 NEW YORK LIBERTY REPORT CARD
By Luis Vasquez
It was a disappointing season for the New York Liberty who returned to Madison Square Garden after a three year hiatus. The Liberty finished at 15-19 and tied for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with Chicago. They lost out on tiebreakers.
But there were great performances, poor performers, and pleasant surprises, as well as a comeback story. Here are the final grades for each player on the New York Liberty that finished the season
Cappie Pondexter and Tina Charles.
These two made the All Star Team and Charles led the WNBA in double doubles with 17. Charles was also 5th in scoring, second in rebounds, and fourth in minutes played in the league. Cappie was second on the team in scoring averaging 13.4 points but it was her play making that was more improved leading the team with 131 assists
Anna Cruz, Avery Warley-Talbert, Plenette Pierson, Sugar Rodgers, and Alex Montgomery.
Anna Cruz was a revelation at point guard. She was second in assists on the team with 118. But her reluctance to look for her shot a little more kept her from an A. Avery Warley was the rebounding physical presence on this team. That alone kept the Liberty in most games. Her improved offensive execution brought the grade up. Plenette Pierson had a solid season as a starter early on then off the bench as the six woman enforcer. She impacted every game but just a shade below. Sugar Rodgers was a three point threat and determined defender. She provided speed and transition excellence and after not playing much last year, Sugar emerged as the Liberty secret weapon with explosive scoring in a few games this year. Alex Montgomery was awarded the starting forward job until it was handed to Cash. Her inability to provide big scoring numbers caused her to be removed. But her defensive shutdowns of league forwards and her three point shooting, second in the WNBA, gets her a well deserved high score.
Swin Cash, Natasha Lacy, Charde Houston.
Swin Cash was acquired much later than Coach Bill Laimbeer wanted. She did not score much but provided smart veteran play and on that alone evened out her grade. Natasha Lacy was acquired late as well and showed off explosive speed to the basket but could not sustain. Charde had more moments and was solid defender and found ways to tally on the scoreboard. Lacy and Houston should improve on this in the coming season.
Essence Carson, Shanece McKinney,
Essence Carson found it harder to recover from her torn knee, mentally more than physically. However towards the end she showed signs. The D is for missing most of the season due to health. But her deadly shot, tough defense, and returning trust in her athleticism promises a rapid ascent next year. McKinney had a lot of growing pains with a weak offensive game. But as the backup to Charles she showed signs of being more than a serviceable big body.
No one rated an F because not a single player on this team failed to hustle and fight. The ones who would have been graded here due to disuse, injury, unavailability or lack of confidence in their progress were waived over the course of the season.
Overall the Liberty team scored a B- for the effort they displayed all season and improvement over last years squad in chemistry and toughness.
Coach Laimbeer : B
Laimbeer can be blamed for not trusting in younger players over seasoned veterans, but he did put the fate of his team more over to younger talents. It was a mixed bag but will benefit this franchise greatly next year. His GM skills landed Tina Charles and Swin Cash. Not too bad and his acquisitions of Warley-Talbert, Rodgers, Lacy, and McKinney, and overseas with Cruz showed he was committed to putting a winning product out there. In his second season in New York, he is so much closer to the ultimate goal than a year ago.