On Sunday, the New York Liberty thoroughly dominated the Chicago Sky, 92-62. A little over a month ago the Sky, entered the same Madison Square Garden to confidently post a solid ten-point win. That was the last time the Liberty dropped a game on their home floor.
In the course of six weeks, so much has changed for these two teams. Chicago, at 12-19, is hanging on for its playoff life. The Liberty, enjoying an eight-game win streak, are 20-12 with a top four seed in their possession. The recent turnaround has been impressive. In mid-July, New York was struggling for a shot at the playoffs. Now they are being included in the same breath as a championship contender.
What happened? For one, putting the ball in the hands of Bria Hartley, another former UConn product who has very quietly and efficiently accelerated and energized the Liberty attack. Of almost equal importance is the guidance of coach Bill Laimbeer. A former NBA player, Laimbeer has championship experience on the court and sideline. He realizes that if you adhere to what you do well, in this case defend and keep working hard on a daily basis, things should come around.
That is not always an ironclad guarantee. In New York’s case, that has proven to be the situation. There is excitement in the Garden these days. The Liberty are keeping a good pace as the final miles of this marathon wind down.
Looking north at 8th Avenue outside Madison Square Garden:
Liberty assistant coach Herb Williams, with pregame instructions for Tina Charles:
Under the direction of assistant coach Carlene Mitchell, Chicago runs through pregame shootaround:
A Big East battle revisited, as Bria Hartley defends Cappie Pondexter:
Chicago's Courtney Vandersloot, in deep thought during a free throw:
New York on the attack:
The view from the opposite baseline:
Head coach Bill Laimbeer with some words for the media after the victory:
While all attention right now is on the Liberty, the New York Rangers' locker room is ready for the start of the NHL season: