New York Liberty coach Sandy Brondello focusing on defense, teaching systems to start camp

New York Liberty Sandy Brondello
Sandy Brondello during the second half of game four of the 2021 WNBA Finals against the Chicago Sky at Wintrust Arena.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

A little bit of normalcy can go a long way, especially for new New York Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello. The veteran WNBA coach has settled into her new role as she gets her group ready for the quickly approaching season opener on May 7 in Brooklyn

The Liberty opened training camp on Sunday at Barclays Center and Brondello has used the first two days to work on implementing her system. And that included focusing in on the team’s defense.

“I think we can be a great defensive team and have great buy-in from that,” Brondello said. “It’s just hard work. … Then offensively just making sure, good to great. Just taking good shots and multiple actions, more player movement. Just playing unselfish and I think that’s hard to guard. Everyone just doing their role to make it all work.

“So that’s what you see today, you see a lot of defense, but also putting in offense and helping them get their chemistry but teaching them along the way.” 

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Teaching, for Brondello, is what a lot of the first few days of camp for New York will be about. The Liberty have had two days worth of work on the court since training camp began, with the new Liberty coach reinforcing what the team had worked on the day before during Tuesday’s practice. 

She also gave the 14 players at camp a three-page glossary of all her terminology for them to go over. 

“I think she set the tone really early on in what she wants from us, what she wants the culture to look like, the identity to look like of this team,” Liberty guard Sami Whitcomb said about Brondello after Tuesday’s practice. “We want to be really defensive-minded. Just really tough on that end and then obviously we have a lot of weapons offensively, so utilizing those. She’s really stressed everyone being the best version of ourselves just being us and bring that. It’s been really fun.” 

After two seasons where COVID and the Olympics have impacted the WNBA season, Brondello and the New York Liberty get a chance to start the year with a bit more normalcy. The 2020 season was played in a bubble in Florida due to COVID-19 and even last season there was a pause in the middle of the year because of the summer Olympics. 

That’s made things a little easier for the team as they prepare for the upcoming season, to the point of even just being able to have practice players come in to work with the team.

“It helps. We’re thrown curveballs all the time so that’s just handling adversity,” Brondello said. “But it is nice like you can bring practice guys in. Like that helps. We didn’t have a big training camp group, so really focusing on a new system. It takes time to learn.”

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