As the WNBA season quickly approaches the All-Star break the New York Liberty is continuing to battle without critical members of the team.
The New York Liberty are still trying to figure out their team with only a few games left in the first half of the regular season. The process will get either easier or harder once key members of the team rejoin the lineup possibly within a week.
Bria Hartley, Amanda Zahui B., Marine Johannès, and Kiah Stokes are all participating in the EuroBasket tournament, which ends on Sunday, July 7th. Hartley and Zahui B. had already played important roles on the team earlier in the season before the competition began on June 27th. Johannes and Stokes have yet to suit up for the Liberty this season because of EuroBasket and finishing up seasons with their other teams overseas.
The WNBA has usually allowed players to sign contracts overseas and have accommodated the possible option to leave and serve their national country in tournament play. The United States National team is usually already secured with a spot in the Olympic game, so they don’t need to send teams to qualifying tournaments. The Liberty are just on the odd side of luck to have four players representing different countries nationally.
The absence of the four players has opened the door for opportunities from others on the roster. Asia Durr is the Liberty’s second overall pick and has already become a significant contributor averaging 11.5 points per contest starting all but one game this season. Kia Nurse has become a consistent scorer with additional minutes, and the team has seen Reshanda Gray step up and play essential minutes off the bench.
The Liberty are riding high off of a big team win against the defending champion Seattle Storm this past Wednesday on the road. The team will be looking to try and improve their record before the All-Star break if they are to have any chance of qualifying for the playoffs. Liberty head coach Katie Smith has continued to preach the “Next man up” philosophy to the team as they await the arrival of their comrades.
The Liberty return to action tonight in Arizona taking on the always talented Phoenix Mercury.