Liberty Training Camp Update
Eleven. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11! Eleven spots. That’s what the women at NY Liberty training camp are fighting for: eleven spots on the final roster. We are in the final half of training camp and almost everyone is back. Coach Whiz, usually a defensive minded coach, has focused on offense early, not wanting to put too much wear and tear on the players arriving early to camp. Practices have been a combination of offensive drills and scrimmages. With each additional day of camp and as players return from overseas the intensity and competition elevates. The evaluation period moves quickly and already players are beginning to differentiate themselves. I’ve put together a few quick notes on how players have performed so far in 2012 NY Liberty training camp based on my own sideline observations and chats with the coaches. Still missing are Kia Vaughn, Quanita Hollingsworth, and Rafaella Masciadri. Follow @nyliberty on Twitter and on Facebook for the latest training camp roster updates. And feel free to hit me up on Twitter with your predictions and hopes for the team! - Ros (@rosgo21 on Twitter)
Kara had a very strong start being the only true center in camp initially. She rebounded well in our first two game-type situations (preseason game vs. Conn and LIU scrimmage). She is differentiating herself with veteran understanding of how to use her body to fight for positioning inside. She moves without the ball well on offense while coming off of a pick and roll, posting up, and also when fighting for a rebound. Kara looks impressive early!
Laura is possibly the shyest and quietest person in camp- but don’t let her timid personality fool you! She adds a lot of fight and muscle in the paint for an undersized post. She uses her speed to steal rebounds from bigger interior players and is has shown the ability to put the ball on the floor and attack close to the rim. Her scrappiness will keep her in the hunt for a spot on the roster.
WELCOME KELLEY! Our first round pick just joined us in training camp a couple of days ago after completing play in Turkey. She looked strong in her first practice as she began learning what to expect as a member of the Liberty. Kelley is a BIG BODY post. Back to the basket. Bang, bang, bang. You just can’t teach that size. She comes off of overseas play in improved conditioning shape after battling injury and surgery in her college career. While she is our first round pick in this season’s WNBA draft, she has steep competition with equally sizable, equally or better-conditioned, more experienced, and very talented “Bigs”.
Essence has struggled a bit in training camp due to a strained hamstring. She is in physical therapy and is currently starting her return back to court action. There is a lot of excitement around Essence this season. She provides great size and versatility on the wing as both a scorer and defender.
Sydney has started strong after a productive season overseas in Poland. She’s playing more confidently and being aggressive handling the ball. The experience has definitely helped her game. Sydney is one of my favorite players to watch. When she comes in: INSTANT ENERGY. Lightning in a bottle. Sydney pushes the pace and ups the defensive intensity as soon as she gets in, however, her challenge will be managing her athletic gifts into purposeful offensive execution. Her task is to prove that she can efficiently run the point by making good decisions and getting others involved. She must also keep defenses honest by finishing when she attacks and knocking down open outside shots.
Iasia has come in and surprised most. When playing inside, she is an extremely undersized post, however, she plays much bigger than her 5’10” height. Iasia does the little things and flat out hustles to compete. She could provide matchup problems as she is much stronger than most perimeter players but more nimble than many posts. You can find her confusing bigger posts with her spin and step-through moves or barreling down smaller defenders on her way to the rim. On occasion, she’s shown the ability to knock down a free-throw-deep jumper as well as make the quick extra pass to cutters or executing “inside-out” passing to shooters spotting up.
Kelly brings her experience into the Liberty training camp and has already shown ways in which she will contribute this season. Acting as an “Energizer Bunny,” Kelly keeps going and going and going as she is in great shape and takes care of her body. Her body is lean; ALL muscle. She pushes the tempo offensively in transition and can quickly get into a half court set. During training camp, she has shot the ball from behind the arc well, making defenders pay for allowing her open opportunities. Kelly’s arrival has made the PG battle one of the fiercest in training camp- more than likely, on an 11-woman roster, one of them will have to go.
Leilani has come in ready to lead in her second year in Coach Whisenant’s system. After getting a year under her belt with him, she has looked good taking charge and directing the floor in the initial half of training camp. One thing Leilani has done well in camp, better even, than other guards with much bigger size, is create good angles while handling intense defensive ball pressure. She uses her low center of gravity to her advantage to keep defenders on her hip and make entry passes into an offense or take advantage in a pick and roll situation. She has good vision in transition and plays up-tempo.
Alex greatly benefited from her offseason experience in France. Showing up for camp ready and in-shape, Alex continues to use her strength and speed to push her way through the court. So far in camp, Alex has shown a knack to attack the rim hard from any position on the court.
Coming off an Israeli Championship win, Plenette recently joined the team in camp and looks to be ready for another great season in Coach Whisenant’s system. Plenette can play inside with her back to the basket, seal for position, or face up in the short corner and attack slower posts. It’s very hard to guard Pierson because you will have to catch her first. After a defensive rebound she’s GONE. She runs her lane as fluidly as a guard. Expect her to burn a few posts down the court for a bucket or two with easy run-outs off of an opponent’s miss. Coming off of one of her most successful seasons yet, expect big things from Plenette- especially with the addition of DeMya Walker to help her down low.
Cappie has started training camp and preseason games very well. Coming into camp off of a Turkish Championship, Cappie has continued her high level of play into the Liberty camp. She’s playing hard and scoring like only Cappie can do! Cappie biggest contribution to training camp is her leadership. She pushes everyone to focus in each drill and leads by example. She wants to win drills and her competitiveness is contagious. Cappie is somewhat slight in build yet fears nothing. She boasts an arsenal of ways to score on you and a handle that can embarrass you if you dare to reach.
Following a Polish Championship, Nicole joined the Liberty camp a bit late, but ready to pick up where she left off last season. She has contributed a lot in camp and brings a great veteran presence to this team. Nicole is oh so talented on the wing. She is an oversized perimeter player that can go off the bounce and shoot the ball. Coach Whiz has given her the green light to go out and find her shot each game. She shows good hang time when creating in the air and can see over most defenders when catching the ball on the wing. Defensively she is smart but not overly aggressive.
Katelan, our 3rd round draft pick, has come into camp and been a great surprise to most camp observers. I’m going to go ahead and say, I’m not very surprised at all. At Gonzaga, she proved to be an athletic scorer with the ability to bang inside at the 4 and give meaningful minutes on the wing as a 3. A constant hard-worker, she finds ways to score and makes it look easy. She understands moving without the ball, running in transition and crashing the boards; all fundamentals that will sneak you a basket or two at any level. On top of that she is skilled around the rim and can put the ball on the floor. She has done a great job of fitting in and contributing positive energy to the Liberty camp.
DeMya has been a great addition for the Liberty, not only on the court, but also off. She brings a veteran presence and is constantly heard contributing and teaching throughout the practices and games. As a player who knows Coach Whisenant’s system well, she is able to assist as an on court coach. After suffering a blow to the head in the first preseason game, DeMya has been diagnosed with a concussion by the Liberty Medical team and is day-to-day based on re-evaluations, per WNBA concussion protocol.