The New York Liberty suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals in 2010 after winning a franchise record 22 games during the season, but 2011 will prove to be the year that heartbreak turns into absolute ecstasy. Even though a championship has failed to materialize for one of the original charter teams of the WNBA, this year will be different. The Liberty have assembled a potent team of wily veterans and eager rookies who will be led by John Whisenant, affectionately known as “Coach Wiz” by his players. Speaking as a die-hard Liberty fan, fifteen years is a long time to wait for a championship. They say patience is a virtue, so for all of you WNBA fans out there, here is why the New York Liberty will be crowned champions this year and their fans will be rewarded for being so virtuous.
First year Liberty Coach and General Manager John Whisenant is an experienced leader and proven winner. He guided the Sacramento Monarchs to a WNBA title in 2005 and was named the WNBA Coach of the Year. Before coaching in the WNBA, Coach Wiz coached two WAC championship teams at the University of New Mexico and has won at every level he has coached, from AAU to the pros. His general manager role has afforded him the opportunity to build the team piece by piece to make a title run. With Coach Whisenant at the helm, the New York Liberty should be on course for championship waters very quickly.
The Liberty are led by their 3-time All-Star guard Cappie Pondexter. Cappie became an instant fan favorite last season after coming over from the Phoenix Mercury where she played for four years. She had an outstanding year for the Liberty, averaging over 21 points per game. Veteran players Janel McCarville and Plenette Pierson add solid size in the paint for the Liberty and are definite forces to be reckoned with. Third year point guard Leilani Mitchell out of the University of Utah, had her best season last year with over nine points and three rebounds per game. Liberty fans can expect her to move forward this year in a big way. Forward Nicole Powell can be counted on to contribute, especially at the foul line where she holds an average of 87 percent of free throws made in her seven year career. Rookies Sydney Colson from Texas A&M, Jessica Breland out of North Carolina, and Alex Montgomery from Georgia Tech are in training camp and learning the system from the veterans. They are sure to make some big plays down the stretch for the team.
The quality of the players in the WNBA has consistently improved since 1996, and with the arrival of dynamic rookies such as Maya Moore, Elizabeth Cambage, and Courtney Vandersloot, this year is no exception. The Liberty’s main competition in the Eastern Conference will be the Washington Mystics, Indiana Fever, and Atlanta Dream. Alana Beard, who missed last season due to an achilles injury, is sure to be a force for the Mystics, while five time WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings will do some serious damage for the Indiana Fever. Sizzling sensation Atlanta Dream point guard Lindsey Harding is extremely dangerous and will make the Dream tough to beat. Despite the tough competition, The Liberty hold a distinct advantage over these teams due to having a more complete and balanced bench that is willing and able to keep games close when their stars are getting a breather.
The New York Liberty will complete a magical season by capturing a WNBA Championship over the defending champion Seattle Storm. Cappie Pondexter will be named the MVP and all will be right again in the world, or, at least in New York City. After all, a WNBA championship ring is a girl’s best friend.
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