Turning Back The Clock

Next year’s WNBA season will include a month long break to accommodate the schedule of players who will be competing for their individual countries in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. It will mirror how the 2004 season was conducted in the WNBA. With this in mind, NYLiberty.com is taking a look back at that year, as it was a memorable one for the franchise.

The year began with a Dispersal Draft that brought veteran Ann Wauters from Cleveland to New York. She would go on to average 20.8 minutes, 6.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game for the season. In mid-April, the Liberty drafted Shameka Christon (5th overall), Amisha Carter (17th overall) and Cathy Joens (30th overall). Christon made four starts in her rookie campaign and appeared in all but one of New York’s matches that season.

The Liberty jumped out to a great start, going 6-1 – including a perfect 4-0 on a road trip that spanned from Minnesota to North Carolina and Texas. In May, Elena Baranova had a 14-rebound night against the Houston Comets, tying Tari Phillips’ franchise record as the third single-game best for rebounds.

Because Madison Square Garden, the home of the Liberty, was hosting the Republican National Convention, Radio City Music Hall opened its doors to welcome in women’s basketball on July 24th. The Liberty played six games on New York City’s “Great Stage” and made history as the first sports team to hold a competition in a historic landmark.

New York played to sellout crowds during its run at Radio City and went 5-1, led by Crystal Robinson and Becky Hammon. The Liberty also hosted The Game at Radio City, which as opposed to the classic All-Star Game, featured the USA Women’s Olympic team against a WNBA Select Team.

In the last game of the regular season, New York hosted Washington in front of a season-high crowd of 15,698 at Madison Square Garden. Hammon and Christon netted 18 points a piece, while Baranova pulled down a game-high 11 boards for the Liberty. New York finished with an 18-16 overall record and a second place spot in the East.

Onto the Playoffs the Liberty went, for the sixth time in franchise history, topping Deanna Nolan and the defending WNBA Champion Detroit Shock in a series that was pushed to three matches. In Game Three, Bethany Donaphin drained a jumper to erupt The Garden crowd and send the Liberty into the Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately, the Liberty was unable to keep the momentum going and was swept by the Connecticut Sun 2-0 in the next round.

The season produced a number of individual player milestones, including a fourth place overall ranking in the WNBA for Baranova in rebounds, Robinson’s 2,000th career point and Hammon’s 1,500th career point. It also brought Pat Coyle to the Liberty’s helm after replacing head coach Richie Adubato. Under Coyle, New York had posted an 11-6 mark.

What is in store for the Liberty in the 2008 season? Be there to find out, as ticket plans for next year are available now by calling 212-465-6073.