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After reaching the conference semifinals last year, Cappie Pondexter and the Liberty are building upon their solid foundation this season.
David Dow/NBAE/Getty Images

Season Outlook

After making it to the conference semifinals last season, the Liberty as a core are in strong shape to start the season. Coach John Whisenant is building upon last year's 19-15 season by emphasizing defense.

Players during practice are getting acquainted with "White Line," Whisenant's defensive strategy, where he draws an imaginary white line up the middle of the court and tells players to focus on it.

"He wants the whole defense to shift the offense away from the middle," Liberty guard Alex Montgomery explained in a video on the Liberty site. "Stay on the white line, deny deny deny. Don't let the ball come back across the boards."

Center Janel McCarville will sit out again this season much to the disappointment of many Liberty fans. The team announced McCarville will not play this year because she wanted to spend time with her family.

The team is filling that void this season by drafting Kelly Cain. The 6'6 center from Tennessee played under legendary Coach Pat Summitt and during her time there was one of the best blockers in the team's history - averaging 2.5 blocks a game. In 2010, she set the team's single-game record by racking up 12 blocks against Louisiana State University.

But it remains to be seen how Cain will perform in WNBA action. She sat out her senior year at Tennessee because of injuries and spent the past few months basketball in Turkey.

"I'm getting healthy for the most part," she said in an interview on the Liberty site. "Right now I'm just trying to get back on the court."

She added playing in Turkey has helped condition her for this coming season because game play over there tends to be faster than it is here, she said.

If Cain is able to tap into the same intensity she played with during her time at Tennessee, the Liberty are poised to be a defensive powerhouse in the league combined with Whisenant's aggressive White Line strategy.

Home games once again this year will take place at the Prudential Center in New Jersey as Madison Square Garden continues the second year of a three-year plan of summer renovations. However, the Liberty's season opener on May 19 will be played at the Garden to make room for NHL playoffs taking place in New Jersey that day.

Player to Watch


Walker

DeMya Walker joins the Liberty from the Connecticut Sun and is the main addition to the team's roster this year. She knows a thing or two about winning championships after winning a WNBA title in 2005 with the former Sacramento Monarchs.

Walker is also an un-selfish player. She told the Liberty site she's spent the offseason honing in on "the little things" in her game.

"I'm just excited to do the little things because those things get overlooked," she said. "I like to take charges and getting on the floor, setting hard screens for my guards and getting people open."

At 6-foot-3, her size helps stack the Liberty's already tough defensive lineup.


Aman Ali, WNBA.com



Season Opener

May 19 vs. Connecticut - 7:00 p.m ET

Coaching Staff

Head CoachJohn Whisenant
Assistant CoachMonique Ambers
Assistant CoachLaura Ramus

Players Added

F.DeMya Walker
C.Kelley Cain

Players Lost

C.Ta'Shia Phillips
F.Felicia Chester

2011 Leaders

PPGCappie Pondexter17.4
RPGKia Vaughn6.7
APGCappie Pondexter4.7
SPGNicole Powell1.4
BPGPlenette Pierson0.9

2011 Team Stats

Team Record 19-15
Points Scored 76 (8th)
Points Allowed74.8 (4th)
Field-Goal Percentage.433 (8th)
Opponents’ FG% .429 (tied-6th)

Advanced Stat

The New York Liberty is one of the original WNBA teams and in 15 seasons has made it to the playoffs 11 times.

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