(2nd in East)
(8th overall, 4th in East)
2297 (8th overall, 3rd
-1.3 (9th overall, 3rd in East)
Winners & Honorees
2004 Draft Recap
Rd. 1 - 5, Shameka Christon
Rd. 2 -
17, Amisha Carter
Rd. 3 - 30, Cathy Joens
out of eight years
2004, lost in Eastern Conference
What Went Right?
One of the most consistently
successful franchises in WNBA history, the Liberty advanced to the playoffs for
the sixth time in eight seasons. They clinched a playoff berth with a 69-66 win
at Connecticut in the penultimate game of the season.
How did they get back there after a disappointing 2003? The Liberty peaked
at the right time, winning four of their final five games to tie Connecticut with
the best record in the East. They drew Detroit in the playoffs and ended the Shock's
reign as WNBA Champs when Bethany
buzzer-beater gave New York a 66-64 win in Game Three and a trip
to the Conference Finals. The Liberty was ultimately swept by the Sun, 2-0, ending
a season of highs and lows.
In five playoff games, five different players led
the Liberty in scoring. The balanced attack ensured that the team never relied
too heavily on one player. During the regular season, guard Becky
Hammon led the Liberty in scoring (13.5 ppg), assists (4.4) and steals (1.7
spg) in her first season as the starting point guard. Crystal
Robinson had her best season (12.1 ppg), Elena
Baranova also averaged double digits (11.6 ppg) and Vickie
Johnson was not too far behind (9.4 points and a career-best 3.6 apg).
one of the league's most versatile weapons, finished fourth in the league in blocks
(1.7 pg), fifth in rebounds (7.2 pg) and was the league's second most accurate
three-point shooter (46.1%).
That Liberty squandered a 6-1 start, losing eight
of the next nine games. General Manager Carol Blazejowski replaced long-time coach
Richie Adubato with assistant Pat Coyle. The team responded with an 11-7 record,
and Coyle was awarded the job full-time in December.
Hammon's transition to
the point wasn't seamless. She committed a league-high 3.47 turnovers per game,
contributing to the team's turnover margin of -2.2, among the worst in the league.
Phillips and Ann Wauters, expected
to provide size and bulk for the Liberty, both suffered season-ending injuries
in July. Wauters is expected back; Phillips signed with Houston. Their injuries
did provide an opportunity for Donaphin to develop, but the team's depth suffered
as a result of the injuries.
G- Becky Hammon
G- Vickie Johnson
F- Crystal Robinson
C- Elena Baranova
Key 2004 Reserves
Ahead To 2005:
In 2004, the Liberty withstood the loss of Teresa Weatherspoon and Tamika
Whitmore. This season, aside from Phillips, their roster should return intact.
The Liberty owns the 10th pick in the Draft, so they are unlikely to add a difference-maker
from the college ranks unless Blazejowski is willing to deal.
Hammon, at 28,
is the youngest of the team's core players. Johnson and Baranova are 33, Robinson
is 31. La'Keshia Frett will
turn 30 in June. When will age become a factor? Even if age doesn't impact the
players directly, it certainly has salary cap implications.
last original member of the Liberty, failed to reach double figures for the first
time since her rookie season. The seventh leading scorer in WNBA history, Johnson's
shooting percentage plummeted in 2004. Was she simply enduring an off year? If
she can't bounce back, will the offense have enough weapons?
run the point, or would she be better suited to playing with a natural point guard
who can get her the ball in open spots? If the ball is in Hammon's hands, can
she cut down on turnovers?
As Coyle begins her first full season at the
helm, will she be able to continue the tradition of success that Adubato enjoyed
in leading the team to three conference championships?