PG: Cappie Pondexter/Leilani Mitchell
SG: Essence Carson/Kamiko Williams
SF: Katie Smith/Alex Montgomery
PF: Plenette Pierson/Toni Young
C: Cheryl Ford/Kelsey Bone/Kara Braxton
Significant gains: Cheryl Ford, Katie Smith, Kelsey Bone, Toni Young, and Bill Laimbeer on the sidelines.
Significant losses: Nicole Powell, Kia Vaughn.
New York weren’t a bad team for the last two years under John Whisenant. Well okay, they were pretty poor for much of last season, but they were decent in 2011. However, they had become pretty painful to watch, with the ‘white line’ defense that the players never seemed to enjoy, and a bedraggled offense that relied on Cappie Pondexter to do virtually everything. Combined with the exile to New Jersey caused by renovations to Madison Square Garden, it led to a distinct lack of interest and excitement among what remained of the Liberty fanbase. So the franchise made a change. Out went Whiz, and Bill Laimbeer was tempted back into the WNBA fold as the potential saviour. Then Evil Bill quickly started reshaping his roster.
The initial moves led to a lot of jokes about ‘getting the band back together’, as Laimbeer acquired various pieces he was familiar with from his days in Detroit. Plenette Pierson (a key sixth woman on those Shock teams, and New York’s best post player for the last couple of seasons) and Kara Braxton (a talented yet wildly inconsistent center for her entire career) were both already on the roster. Laimbeer added Katie Smith as a free agent from Seattle, and tempted Cheryl Ford back into the WNBA for the first time since 2009. He also acquired the rights to Deanna Nolan from Tulsa, but she won’t be playing in the US until at least 2014. Smith isn’t the player she used to be, but she’s still smart, physical and knows all the tricks. She’ll help show her younger teammates exactly what Laimbeer expects from his players. Ford has been playing in Europe, and been very productive doing what she’s always done – fill the paint, and grab every rebound in sight. She won’t be quite the interior beast that she was in her younger days, but she can still be a significant contributor. The fear with Ford will always be whether her body can hold up under the rigors of the WNBA grind, playing an average of three games a week against top competition. Laimbeer will have to look after her and manage her minutes. Continue reading