Go West, Young Lady
After opening the season with eight of its first 13 games at home, the Liberty are headed into its longest road trip of the season with three games against the top teams in the WNBA's Western Conference across five days. New York is looking to turn the tables this season, after coming up 1-5 against Sacramento, Los Angeles and Seattle last year. This season, it has been an even draw (2-2) against teams from the West. NYLiberty.com takes a look at each road match-up.
STARTING WITH THE BEST
Opponent: Sacramento Monarchs
Date: Tuesday, June 26
Tip-Off: 10PM (EST)
First on the agenda for the Liberty are the Sacramento Monarchs, who are holding the first-place spot in the West. The Liberty has a score to settle with the Monarchs after they were topped twice last season by a total of 30 points. New York may hold the all-time regular season series with a record of 11-10, but the Liberty have not captured a victory over Sacramento since July 22, 2005.
The game tips-off locally at 7:00PM and will be aired on ESPN2. This game marks the second time that the Liberty have been featured on ESPN2 this season. The Liberty hold an impressive 20-17 all-time record when the game is being broadcast on ESPN/ABC’s airwaves.
In its last meeting in 2006, New York was led by guard Erin Thorn with a game-high 20 points. With Thorn on the sidelines this trip and the Monarchs’ Kara Lawson, Nicole Powell and Rebekkah Brunson posting double figures this season (with 13.0, 12.2 and 11.5 ppg respectively), the Liberty will need a team effort to begin its west coast jaunt with a “W.”
MOORE OF A HOMECOMING
Opponent: Los Angeles Sparks
Date: Friday, June 29
Tip-Off: 10:30PM (EST)
The Liberty will face off against the Sparks in the second leg of its three-game Pacific Coast stretch on Friday, June 29 at 7:30PM (PST). Look for New York to be hungry for a victory at STAPLES Center, because although this all-time series is deadlocked at 10-10, Los Angeles holds an advantage on its home court with a record of 6-3.
The game will mark a homecoming for point guard Loree Moore, who grew up just 15 miles south of Los Angeles in Carson. Moore returns to California for just the third time in her professional career. While attending Narbonne High School, she led the team to an overall record of 115-7, en route to three California State Championships ('98, '00 , '01) and two USA TODAY national titles ('00 and '01).
This season, Moore is averaging career highs in assists with 4.5 and steals with 2.1. Her 10.1 points per game is also a career high thanks in part to her improved accuracy of .455 shooting from beyond the arc. Against Phoenix on June 3, she scored a career-high 22 points, shooting 4-6 from beyond the three-point line. The Liberty will look to its point guard to step up in her hometown and lead them past Michael Cooper and the Sparks.
SEALING IT IN SEATTLE
Opponent: Seattle Storm
Date: Sunday, July 1
Tip-Off: 9PM (EST)
The Liberty wrap up their West Coast swing with a visit to Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson and the Seattle Storm on Sunday, July 1. Jackson scorched the Liberty last year with 26 points in their first meeting and passed the torch to teammate Iziane Castro Marques who duplicated Jackson’s effort with a career-high 26 points in the second meeting.
For this matchup, the Liberty will turn to veterans Shameka Christon and Cathrine Kraayeveld. Christon scored a career high 25 points in Seattle last year and led the team with an average of 15.5 points per game in the two losses to the Storm last year. Kraayeveld is having a banner season for the Libs, pulling down 5.8 rebounds a game and remains one of the team’s most consistent scorers.
Kraayeveld, whose father Dave played for the Seattle Seahawks, is a native of the Seattle area. She also spent her collegiate career as a Duck at the University of Oregon. In her senior season, she averaged 14.7 points and 8.3 rebounds a game, and was named to the All-Pac 10 First Team and a Kodak All-American All-Region.
Tune in all this week to catch every minute of the Liberty’s action out West.
Compiled by Kimberly Griffith & Elizabeth Martin
Photos: NBAE/Getty Images