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Covers girls’s faculty basketball and the WNBABeforehand lined UConn and the WNBA Connecticut Solar for the Hartford CourantStanford graduate and Baltimore native with additional expertise on the Dallas Morning Information, Seattle Occasions and Cincinnati Enquirer
The Sandy Brondello period in Brooklyn began off on a excessive be aware, because the New York Liberty took down the Connecticut Solar 81-79 Saturday within the group’s season opener behind third-year guard Sabrina Ionescu‘s 25 factors.
“It’s a terrific win for us at house,” Ionescu stated. “We had a terrific crowd. Tremendous excited to have the ability to begin the season off like that.”
Brondello, the previous longtime Phoenix Mercury coach, took over this previous season in New York, which additionally noticed some personnel adjustments with the free-agency acquisition of Stefanie Dolson and returns of Jocelyn Willoughby, Han Xu and A.D. Durr.
2021 WNBA All-Star Betnijah Laney and DiDi Richards missed the sport with accidents, as did Bec Allen, who continues to be taking part in abroad, however Brondello was happy with how the group began the 2022 marketing campaign regardless of these absences.
“We weren’t fairly positive what we’d get on the offensive finish. I knew what we’d get on the defensive finish. I believe this group is hard, and I believe you see the type of play that we wished to play,” Brondello stated. “We competed with the most effective groups within the WNBA. We’re each lacking gamers, clearly, we needed to dig deep.
“For me, it’s all the time good to win your first recreation, and the followers can get to see what we’re making an attempt to do right here… a little bit of aid, I suppose.”
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Ionescu, the 2020 No. 1 choose, was one among 4 Liberty gamers to achieve double figures, scoring or helping 41 of New York’s factors and ending with a reasonably environment friendly clip (10-for-18 capturing together with 3-for-6 on 3s). Her six assists ensured she recorded her fourth profession recreation with a minimum of 25 factors and 5 assists, the third-most in Liberty historical past.
“I believe it was actually simply the endurance and poise of our offense that led a variety of us to simple pictures and pictures that we usually make, and so I believe that’s what we now have to proceed to do,” Ionescu stated.
It was a confidence-instilling efficiency for the previous Oregon star, whose WNBA profession had up thus far been hindered by an ankle damage she suffered three video games into her rookie 12 months. She missed the remainder of that season, and although she returned to play 30 video games in 2021, she had lingering points that summer time and has since admitted she shouldn’t have performed via all of it.
Ionescu spent the complete offseason rehabbing and stated within the preseason that she lastly feels wholesome once more. Although she doesn’t usually fixate on what may very well be the end result of a recreation earlier than taking part in it, she had an excellent feeling earlier than Saturday that the Liberty had been going to win.
“A breath of recent air to have the ability to play and never desirous about my ankle and determining methods to attempt to disguise it or work out alternative ways to attempt to assist the group once I’m not capable of do what I need to bodily, and so I’m actually excited,” Ionescu stated. “I’m tremendous excited in regards to the progress that I’ve made and simply with the ability to play in a recreation like that at that depth and do what I wanted to do to assist us win.”
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Ionescu began gradual with simply two first-quarter factors earlier than placing up 13 of the Liberty’s 26 within the second quarter, which helped them outscore the Solar by 15 in that body. With the Solar up one going into the fourth, Ionescu dished out a pair of assists to begin and scored eight straight factors late within the interval to place the Liberty up for good.
“I used to be actually proud of Sab tonight. She’s again wholesome, and that’s the primary factor,” Brondello stated. “She’s so expert, she desires to win and we put her in positions that we are able to have fairly good success. She’s acquired the ball in her palms, however at occasions, it’s simply extra about ensuring she will get it on second touches and never simply making an attempt to pressure it on that first motion. So I believe as soon as she let the sport come to her a bit of bit, she’s acquired extensive open, her teammates had been discovering her open and as nice gamers do, they make performs, so actually joyful for her.”
It was finally a group effort for the Liberty to take down the Solar, who’re thought of by some to be title favorites, as New York scored 31 factors off 16 Connecticut turnovers.