Game Preview: Liberty @ Dream

By Ros Gold-Onwude

GAME PREVIEW:
The New York Liberty (3-7) head to Atlanta to face off with the Dream (4-6) this Tuesday June 19th at 7pm. The game will be available on WNBA LiveAccess.

NEW YORK LIBERTY:
The Liberty is coming off of a lopsided road loss to the Connecticut Sun. New York struggled to find offensive and defensive answers, allowing the Sun 97 points and having only one player register more than seven points in the game. Cappie Pondexter, the team’s usually deadly scoring leader, went 2 for 8 from the field. In post game interviews, she pointed to being more aggressive offensively as something she would need to improve for next game. Essence Carson continued to put points on the board, leading all Liberty players with 14.

COACH WHIZ:
On Monday the Liberty practiced from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm before catching a flight to Atlanta. Coach Whisenant reported the players were “sharp and on point”. He said the players seemed to have the right energy and were ahead of the play in practice. He discussed to the injury of Plenette Pierson as a dip in momentum to the Liberty’s short-lived win streak. During the Connecticut game he felt there appeared to be lulls in effort. He and the team look ahead to the next game against Atlanta, a team they have experienced success against by beating earlier this month. Coach Whiz revealed his number one key to the game is to slow the Dream down as they have a point guard and squad that can get it and go.

ATLANTA DREAM:
The Atlanta Dream is also coming off of a loss to the Connecticut Sun. Their loss was a heartbreaking one, falling 75-73. They played the Sun tight despite being without their All-Star, Angel McCoughtry, who is nursing a sprained left knee. The athletic Armintie Price led the way with an outstanding stat line of 20 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals. Sancho Lyttle added 15 points and 9 rebounds.

STATS THAT MATTER:
The Dream is led by Angel McCoughtry’s 22.7 ppg, 5.4 rebounds, and 3 steals. As impressive as that stat line is, here are some stats that stick out the most: McCoughtry averages nearly 4 steals a game, but also 4.7 turnovers a game. Should she play tomorrow, the Liberty would have to be weary of her using her length to get deflections when defending on ball and when in passing lanes. She will make mistakes, so the Liberty should look to take advantage and make the Dream pay for blown possessions. McCoughtry also attacks the rim aggressively for contact; she has been to the line 75 times this season. To put that into context, Cappie Pondexter leads the Liberty with 55 free throw attempts. If McCoughtry misses her second game in a row due to knee injury… that would be a big break for the Liberty.

Lindsey Harding averages 13.4 and 4 assists points per game. The stat to be aware of is her point production. She is a scoring threat at the PG position and will attack the middle off the dribble drive in transition and in the half court set. Defenders must ball stop early and slow her down before she gets a full head of steam.

HISTORY:
The Liberty and Dream have split the two games they’ve played so far this season. The Liberty had a tough early loss to the Dream on the road 100-74 on May 25th. New York bounced back with a 79-74 win at home on June 5th. In the win, Cappie Pondexter led all scorers with 26 points and 6 rebounds. Leilani Mitchell scored 18 points with 4 assists and shot 4-5 from three. Kia Vaughn muscled 15 points and 8 rebounds while Plenette Pierson added 10 points. For the Dream, McCoughtry led their attack with 21 points, 14 rebounds.

LIBERTY INJURIES:
Plenette Pierson is still recovering from a nagging right leg injury and has been limited in practice.