A strong second half propelled the Liberty into the postseason
NBAE/Getty Images

Skills

The New York Liberty boasted the league�s best three-point percentage in 2010, thanks in part to Leilani Mitchell, Cappie Pondexter and Nicole Powell each hitting roughly 40 percent of their shots from behind the arc. In fact, New York�s 40.9 percent conversion from three-point land made them the only team to shoot over 40 percent on the season, as the Seattle Storm finished second with 36.9.

The Liberty also boasted the third-best free throw percentage (81.8) and field goal percentage (45.3), but also got to the line a league-low 560 times. This is likely a direct result of the team�s interest in playing the perimeter game rather than driving to the lane, but that didn�t stop them from averaging a fifth-best 79.2 points per game.

Milestones/Achievements

Coming off a strong late-season close and a new career-high in points per game (21.4), it�s no surprise that Pondexter finished third overall in MVP voting and received All-Defensive First Team honors for her play throughout the season. However, it wasn�t just Pondexter who received praise in 2010. Playing alongside Pondexter all season long was Mitchell, a player who initially found herself in a potential battle with Pondexter for the top guard position. As the season wore on, Mitchell�s numbers started to show signs of vast improvement. In 2010 alone Mitchell experienced drastic increases across the board, posting new highs for points per game (9.3, previous high: 3.9), assists per game (3.8, previous high: 2.9) and rebounds per game (2.6, previous high: 1.7). The third-year player out of Utah also led the league in three-point percentage (49 percent) and was second overall in three-pointers made (72).

The Liberty�s 22 wins also set a new franchise record, just slightly edging out the previous total of 21 set back in 2001.

Work History

It was a turnaround year for the Liberty, as the only players to carry over from the 2009 roster were Janel McCarville, Mitchell, Sidney Spencer and Kia Vaughn. Seven other additions helped fill out the 11-player roster, but one in particular turned the Liberty into championship contenders the second she set foot in New York City.

When Pondexter first arrived on the scene at Madison Square Garden, she admitted that it would take time for the team to start to gel and for everyone to get on the same page. By the Stars at the Sun break, when the Liberty stood at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 7-9 record, New York found themselves in a position where it couldn�t afford to wait much longer. Sure enough, all it took was a little break for everyone to find a flow as the Liberty pieced together a 15-3 second-half run, including a 10-game win streak, to close out the season and secure the No. 2 seed heading into the postseason.

It was there that New York fought hard against the Fever in the first round to steal the best-of-three win on their home court before taking on No. 4 seed Atlanta in the Conference Finals. New York dropped the first game of the series at home, the team�s first postseason loss on home court, before traveling to Atlanta for Game 2. Despite Pondexter�s 36 points and nine assists, the Dream edged out the Liberty by the final of 105-93.

Looking ahead to 2011, it will be an all new challenge for the Liberty as the front office looks to fill the vacancies left behind by team president and general manager Carol Blazejowski and head coach Anne Donovan. But on the bright side, Cappie appears at home in New York City both on and off the court. For Mitchell, if she follows the example of 2009 Most Improved Player of the Year winner Crystal Langhorne, then she will continue to improve with the hopes of supplying the Liberty with enough firepower to finally lead them to that championship ring.

Frank Della Femina



2008 Leaders


PPGCappie Pondexter21.4
RPGJanel McCarville5.9
APGCappie Pondexter4.9
SPGLeilani Mitchell1.62
BPGTaj McWilliams-Franklin.88

Team Stats

Points Scored79.2(5th)
Points Allowed76.0(4th)
Field-Goal Percentage.453(3rd)

History

Year Record Finish (Conf.)
2010 22-12 2nd
2009 13-21 7th
2008 19-15 3rd
2007 16-18 4th
2006 11-23 5th
2005 18-16 3rd
2004 18-16 2nd
2003 16-18 6th
2002 18-14 1st
2001 21-11 2nd
2000 20-12 1st
1999 18-14 1st
1998 18-12 3rd
1997 17-11 2nd