New York Liberty
2005 In Review:
What Went Right?
Once again, guard Becky Hammon paced New York, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg) and assists (4.3 apg). She started all 34 games for the Liberty in each of the past two seasons since missing most of 2003 with a knee injury and has come back better than ever. The 2005 All-WNBA honoree has come a long way since going undrafted out of Colorado State in 1999 and is even getting a shot at the U.S. World Championship squad later this year. A threat from both inside and out, she knocked down 65 3-pointers, most on the team and second only behind Monarchs guard Nicole Powell's 66. The Liberty as a team were the most prolific 3-point shooting team in the WNBA, averaging 6.1 per game.
In just her second season, Shameka Christon stepped into the starting lineup and proved that she was worth the high draft pick that the Liberty spent to obtain her in 2004. The former Arkansas Razorback averaged 9.2 ppg in just under 24 minutes per contest. Another nice surprise for Coach Pat Coyle's more experienced team was rookie Cathrine Kraayeveld. Signing with the team early on as a free agent, she ended up playing nearly 12 minutes per game, a physical presence and 4.1 ppg.
What Went Wrong?
One of the streakiest and most inconsistent teams in the WNBA last season, the Liberty lost its last three regular season games and was swept out of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Indiana Fever. In the two postseason losses, New York was only able to put up 50.5 ppg. During the regular season, the Liberty had a losing record against conference foes and even lost seven games at home. The only team to lose more on its home court were the Charlotte Sting and San Antonio Silver Stars.
One of the primary reasons for New York's stumble down the stretch was a broken finger on the right hand of All-Star center Ann Wauters. Wauters had been second on the team in scoring at the time of her injury on August 14 and went on to miss the rest of the season.
It turns out that that game was the last time the Liberty's
2005 starting lineup will ever play together again. This offseason, New York lost
four of its five regular starters. Vickie Johnson signed with San Antonio, Crystal
Robinson inked a free agent deal with Washington and both Wauters and Elena Baranova
decided not to return to the United States to play in the WNBA this season. Wauters
and Baranova were 1-2 in rebounding, grabbing a total of 13.5 per game.
Looking Ahead To 2006:
With four starters gone, who does Coyle insert into the starting rotation this year? Last year's backup point guard, a first round pick out of Tennessee, Loree Moore, might be ready to emerge and move Hammon to her natural position at shooting guard. The team also signed Ashley Battle, a defensive player at UConn who did not stick with the Seattle Storm last year. With so many questions, at least as many as any other team, the Liberty can only improve their depth with the Draft.