New York Liberty show flashes of toughness, need more work

Tina Charles has been the New York Liberty's best player through the season's first four games, leading the club in rebounds and points per game.
Tina Charles has been the New York Liberty’s best player through the season’s first four games, leading the club in rebounds and points per game. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Dia Dipasupil

The Liberty have started their season at 2-2, with some positives mixed in with trouble spots. They host the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

Here’s a quick look at the Liberty’s first four games:

The Good:

Games are often won off the glass. The Liberty rank first in the WNBA with 42.0 rebounds per game (32.8 defensive rebounds). In their third game, May 21 against the Los Angeles Sparks, the Liberty out-rebounded their opponent, 54-46, despite the loss.

Leading the charge is Tina Charles, who ranks first with averages of 12 total rebounds and 9.8 defensive boards.

Defense is another strong suit for the Liberty, holding opponents to 33.9% from the field. Shot-blocking specialist Kiah Stokes, who ranks third in blocks (2.3), has been key to lowering foes’ field goal percentages this season.

The Bad:

Scoring needs to come from all around, besides the duo of Charles and Sugar Rodgers (23.5 and 16.5 ppg, respectively).

Shots have just not been falling in their last two games as the Liberty have drained just 35% of their shots from the field (59-of-169).

Head coach Bill Laimbeer put it bluntly after a loss to Atlanta: “We can’t make shots.”

Recently, 3-point shooting has also been an issue, as the Liberty went one for 10 from beyond the arc in their May 24 loss to the Atlanta Dream. Previously, against the Sparks, they shot four for 15 from three-point land.

Finding ways to win close games is a must. This has shown with play down the stretch in back-to-back overtime losses.

With 2:11 remaining in the May 21 game, the Liberty held an eight-point lead, but the Sparks forced overtime. Similarly, New York held an 11-point third quarter lead and saw Atlanta equalize with 5:01 left in the fourth quarter.