May 25, 2022
Daily Briefing — May 25, 2022: Another L for Liberty
Mabrey Dallas is taking another step forward?
Happy hump day! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, daily Watch List, and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 17 of the WNBA season is here, following New York falling to Minnesota in a battle of one-win teams. The Liberty now sit at 1-5, matching 2006, 2012, and 2020 for the worst start in franchise history. On the bright side, that 2012 team actually made the playoffs (though they got swept in the first round), although that 2020 squad owns the second-worst winning percentage in W history.
New York is having issues with pretty much every player not named Natasha Howard or Han Xu: Sabrina Ionescu’s cemented herself as an overall elite offensive player, but still struggles with shot-creation and defense; Betnijah Laney isn’t a great offensive engine, yet is the team’s best shot-creator; Stefanie Dolson has proven redundant to Howard, at a position the Liberty desperately needed a more diverse skillset; and Jocelyn Willoughby, the team’s best shooter through four games, is out for a month. Most notably, the Liberty have only one true playmaker (Ionescu), one credible shot-creator (Laney), and three good defenders (Howard, Laney, Rebecca Allen) with none of the three being plusses at the point of attack or in rim protection.
New York is more talented than this, without a doubt. But how many other teams are they truly better than?
But first, read:
- Our Jacqueline LeBlanc details this past week in Uncasville, Conn., from Jasmine Thomas’ injury to offensive improvements to mental health awareness efforts
- Our Hayden Cilley fills you in on “that Sam Thomas energy,” and the undrafted Mercury rookie’s path here
- WNBA.com’s Mark Schindler sat down with Fever rookie Destanni Henderson to talk about her game, her background, and Indiana
- Swish Appeal’s Sabreena Merchant looks at why A’ja Wilson is thriving as a full-time center
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Chicago: Activated center Li Yueru, terminating combo forward Anneli Maley’s hardship
Connecticut: Point guard Jasmine Thomas suffered a torn ACL in her right knee and will miss the rest of the season, and almost certainly the entire 2022-23 EuroLeague season. With an otherwise-healthy roster, the Sun will not be able to sign a hardship player; and with the CBA not allowing cap relief for season-ending injuries, Connecticut will almost certainly have to play with just 10 healthy players for the remainder of the year.
Watch List, Wednesday, May 25
(All times in Eastern)
Phoenix @ Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m., Amazon Prime video (Local: Bally Sports Arizona, Spectrum SportsNet)
- Rutgers: Hired Notre Dame associate head coach Coquese Washington to be its next head coach. Washington had been the head coach at Penn State from 2007-2019, with three Big Ten titles and two Sweet Sixteens, before resigning after finishing 11th or worse in-conference in four of her last five years.
Tuesday, May 24 recap
Dallas beat Connecticut, 85-77. The Sun led continuously from the early first quarter though the late third; the Wings won the fourth 27-18. Connecticut assisted on a season-high 24 of its 27 buckets; the teams combined for 43 turnovers.
Dallas was led by wing Marina Mabrey’s 20 points on 6-for-10 from the field, 3-for-6 from three, and 5-for-6 from the line, three rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 22 minutes; wing Allisha Gray had 17 points on 5-for-10 shooting (1-4 3pt., 6-6 FT), eight rebounds (four offensive), two assists, and two blocks without a turnover; off-ball guard Arike Ogunbowale notched 16 points on 6-for-19 FG (2-6 3pt.) and three assists against two turnovers.
TDB Dallas center minutes distribution watch: Isabelle Harrison, 25; Teaira McCowan, seven; Charli Collier, five; Satou Sabally, two; Kayla Thornton, one.
Big Alyssa Thomas led the Sun with a near-triple-double, finishing with 13 points (4-12 FG, 5-6 FT), eight rebounds (six offensive), and nine assists, against four fouls in 37 minutes; big wing Jonquel Jones recorded a double-double with 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting (0-2 3pt.) and a season-high 12 rebounds; backup center Brionna Jones had 13 points on 4-for-8 FG (5-6 FT), two assists, and three steals against three turnovers.
Washington beat Atlanta, 70-50. The Dream led in the mid-second quarter, before the Mystics went on a 36-12 run through the early fourth. Washington shot 6.6 percentage points better from the field and 12.8 points better from three; the Mystics notched a season-high 11 steals, part of 23 Atlanta turnovers.
Washington was led by big Elena Delle Donne’s 15 points on 7-for-13 shooting (0-3 3pt.), six rebounds, and three blocks without a turnover; center Shakira Austin had nine points on 3-for-6 FG, seven rebounds (three offensive), and two blocks; backup combo forward Kennedy Burke notched 13 points on 5-for-6 from the field and 2-for-3 from three, two rebounds, and two steals without a turnover.
Chicago beat Indiana, 95-90. The Sky jumped out to an 11-2 lead, but the game was mostly within two possessions after the first quarter, with the Fever taking multiple leads. Chicago took 17 more free-throws; the teams combined for 20 steals and 43 fouls.
Big Candace Parker led the Sky with 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting (1-3 3pt.), six rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and three blocks against four turnovers in 28 minutes; point guard Courtney Vandersloot had 14 points on 4-for-9 from the field (1-1 3pt.) and 5-for-8 from the line, six rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and two blocks in 27 minutes; backup big Azurá Stevens notched 15 points in 16 minutes on 6-for-13 FG (1-3 3pt.), seven rebounds (four offensive), and two turnovers.
Indiana was led by combo guard Kelsey Mitchell’s 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting (2-4 3pt.), two assists, and two steals against two turnovers; combo forward Victoria Vivians had 17 points on 7-for-17 from the field and 3-for-5 from three, seven rebounds, and three assists against four turnovers and five fouls in 32 minutes; combo forward Emily Engstler recorded her first-career double-double with 11 points on 5-for-11 FG (1-2 3pt.) and 13 rebounds (seven offensive), plus four assists and two blocks against two turnovers and four fouls in 35 minutes.
Minnesota beat New York, 84-78. The Lynx led from the first minute through the late third; the Liberty led from the final minute of the third through 3:15 in the fourth. The teams combined to shoot 38.3% from three, with the Liberty adding 28.1% on 32 threes; Minnesota took 15 more free-throws, thanks to 40 Liberty fouls; New York assisted on a season-high 24 of their 28 buckets.
Center Sylvia Fowles led the Lynx with a 14-point, season-high-tying-14-rebound double-double on 6-for-12 FG with five offensive boards and two steals against two turnovers; off-ball guard Kayla McBride had 15 points on 3-for-11 from the field, 2-for-6 from three, and 7-for-8 from the line, five rebounds, and three assists against four turnovers; off-ball guard Aerial Powers notched 18 points on 3-for-13 from the field (0-2 3pt.) and 12-for-14 from the line, a season-high-tying nine rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks.
The Liberty were led by big Natasha Howard’s season-high 23 points on 8-for-12 shooting (2-4 3pt., 5-6 FT) and six rebounds (three offensive); combo forward Rebecca Allen had 21 points on 8-for-20 from the field and 4-for-8 from three, two assists, and two steals against two turnovers; backup center Han Xu notched 11 points on 5-for-6 FG (1-2 3pt.), seven rebounds, and two blocks without a turnover.