Chemistry Key for Donovan's Liberty

Anne Donovan doesn’t have many concerns with her new-look squad.  

And why should she? The Liberty are now filled with All-Star veterans with championship experience, including Cappie Pondexter, Nicole Powell and Taj McWilliams-Franklin.  

“I think our chemistry is most up in the air,” the head coach said. “I’m not concerned about it because I know it’s going to come along. I also know that until we form our Liberty chemistry these players move without the ball very well and play off each other very well. If we can continue to develop our on-court Liberty chemistry, I think our new players really have a feel for the game that will help make that transition easier.”  

It didn’t take more than a thrilling triple-overtime win over the Connecticut Sun in the Liberty’s preseason finale at The Garden last Tuesday for Donovan to know she had a special group of players.  

“I know we’re going to be competitive and I know we’re going to really get after it,” Donovan said. “We’re still a work in progress with Nicole just having one day with us and Cappie three or four days. Like every other team, we still have to put it together. You already saw the triple-overtime game that this team is not going to give up, get tired, they’re not going to stop fighting. I think that’s different from last summer already.”  

Despite the lack of practice time, the Liberty looked as though they’ve been playing together for quite some time now in an 85-82 victory over the Chicago Sky in the regular-season opener Sunday afternoon at home. And without much surprise, it was Pondexter, Powell and McWilliams Franklin leading the way.  

After the three veteran newcomers stood at center court to address the crowd prior to tip off – guaranteeing a great season and thanking the fans for the support they’ve received so far – they took care of business on the floor, without dealing with too many chemistry issues along the way.  

Pondexter scored a team-high 22 points, McWilliams-Franklin added 20 and Powell had 11. But the statistic that stuck out most to Donovan was the Liberty’s 22 assists on 31 field goals.  

“As much as we added players with All-Star experience, we haven’t added anybody who’s not a team player,” Donovan said. “To get that number of assists on that number of field goals, that’s what’s going to make this team special. Although we have great individual talent, that’s not gonna win a championship."  

Pondexter, McCarville and McWilliams-Franklin were in the starting lineup to open the season, along with Janel McCarville and Leilani Mitchell. Meanwhile, the rest of the rotation still hasn’t been completely decided on by Donovan.  

“I still have to work those things out but the beautiful thing is we have depth on this team,” Donovan said. “We got Essence Carson now coming off the bench, Kalana Green has done a great job in camp already and having Kia (Vaughn) off the bench in the post, we have a lot of depth already. It’s up to me to figure out what the rotation is.”  

Those three players combined for 25 points off the bench while Tiffany Jackson played a pivotal role in the post as well.

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