Liberty Host Eastern Conference Rival Connecticut Sun

The Liberty host eastern conference rival Connecticut Sun Friday, June 14th, at 7:30 pm. Reigning WNBA MVP Tina Charles and her Connecticut Sun matchup against the Liberty for the second time this regular season.

The Liberty (3-2) are undefeated at home. The latest win came on June 9th, 76-67, over the previously unbeaten Atlanta Dream. After losing Essence Carson to a season ending ACL tear in Atlanta on June 7th the Liberty bounced back with a gutsy victory in the face of adversity. Every player who played in the game scored and contributed to make up for the absence of Carson, who led the team in scoring before the injury and was also New York’s best defender and a high-energy leader of the team. The Liberty exploded to outscore Atlanta 25-12 in the fourth quarter. Cappie Pondexter led the attack with a more aggressive approach to the game and finished with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Plenette Pierson pumped out 17 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Kara Braxton continued to shine in the paint with 14 points and 5 rebounds. The smallest player on the team, Leilani Mitchell, led the team in rebounding with 7 boards. Katie Smith’s impact is often missed on a stat sheet. The versatile veteran slowed another superstar down with her defense by limiting Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry to 4-16 shooting and 5 turnovers.

The Connecticut Sun (2-3) are hampered by injuries of their own. Streaky shooter and solid defender Renee Montgomery is out with an ankle injury. Shooter Tan White is out with a broken finger. Kara Lawson missed a game with a sore back but returned to play on Wednesday against the Indiana Fever. Due to all the injuries the Sun brought in veteran guard Iziane Castro Marquez who brings size and another scoring option to the wing. The Sun bounced back after a three game losing streak with a 73-61 win over the Indiana Fever on Wednesday June 12th. Reigning MVP Tina Charles carried the Sun with 30 points and 10 rebounds in an inspired effort. Lawson returned to the court to add 12 points but seemed limited, only shooting 5-14 and giving up 6 turnovers.

LAST TIME OUT:
On May 25th the Liberty and Sun matched up in the season opening game and the Liberty fell 81-69 on the road. A much less familiar Liberty team struggled with Bill Laimbeer’s new system and played without the assistance of Plenette Pierson and Cheryl Ford who sat out with knee injuries. The Liberty were forced into 18 turnovers and were outscored 25-14 in a critical third quarter. A healthy Connecticut squad enjoyed four players in double digits, led by Kara Lawson’s 23 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Lawson hit 5 of Connecticut’s 10 threes.

KEYS TO THE GAME:
1) Dictate Tempo
The Sun like to push the pace, especially off of turnovers and will often over play passing lanes, making use of their guard heavy lineup. The Liberty need to take care of the ball and get back in transition D to slow down Connecticut. Also, the Liberty should look for opportunities to run. Fast breaks are situations where Pondexter can find easier shots and heat up.

2) Eye On Shooters
The Liberty allowed 10 threes in their last matchup with Connecticut. While, the Sun are without a few primary shooters and Kara Lawson looked shaky in her comeback from a back injury, the Liberty need to be aware of guards cutting in the half court set and also identify shooters spotting up in transition.

3) Inside Out
The Liberty play best when moving and sharing the ball. The Liberty have one less experienced one-on-one scorer now that Carson is out for the season. Therefore, passing is key. Braxton is playing consistently inside. Get the ball moving in and out for a well-spread and unselfish offensive attack.

4) Disrupt Tina Charles.
Easier said than done. The goal is not to stop her, rather it is to limit her options, push her out, and make her a little more uncomfortable. Bill, post players, this one’s on you!