Can the Liberty Salvage Their Season?

It has been a rough season so far. But can the Liberty turn things around?

The Liberty won two games in a row last week. Normally that would not be that surprising of a sentence, but the Liberty hadn't won back-to-back games since June 2. In fact, those four games have been the only two times they have won back-to-back games all season. They now sit at 7-14 and have the third worst record in the league.

The only Liberty player averaging double figures is Tina Charles with 20 points per game. She continues to be the offensive island I talked about earlier this year, taking twice as many shots per game than anyone else on her team. New York currently has the 10th ranked offense and defense in the league, according to Basketball-Reference.com. They have struggled in close games, lost some real heartbreakers, and it took a buzzer-beater 3-pointer from Shavonte Zellous to beat the Sun on Wednesday.

There is a real lack of consistency on both ends of the floor, but particularly on offense. One night Epiphanny Prince will have 21 points and the next night she'll have 2. The same has gone for the rest of the team all season long, though. Amanda Zui B., rookie Kia Nurse, guard Bria Hartley, and Zellous all have had up-and-down seasons. Even Charles has had a few bad games sprinkled throughout the season.

But it is not just the offense that has struggled. Defensively, the pressure has not been there as it has in years past. The Liberty's rebound % is only middling at 8th in the league, and their block % is barely above last place at 5.7%.  They also are 10th in the league in rebounds per game. Simply put, the Liberty's vaunted defense is not what it used to be. One can point to all the struggles that the Liberty have had and remember that this may simply be a transition year for first-year head coach Katie Smith, but you can't place all the blame on the head coach. The players have to look at themselves in the mirror and realize they need to play better both as a team and as individuals. 

So can they salvage the season if they can catch up to the Aces and the Lynx and make the 8th and final playoff spot? My honest opinion is no. Even if they make the playoffs, I don't see this team making it past the win-or-die first round. Given the expectations of this team going into the season, all the likeliest of scenarios end up being ultimately disappointing. I believe this team saw themselves as a title contender at the beginning of the season, but now I don't know what they expect to happen by the end of the regular season. If they can continue to support one another despite their struggles, they can come away feeling like they can regroup in offseason and try again next year.

The biggest question will be whether or not this team can find more talent to put around Tina Charles. But given the small amount of trading and movement that teams see during the offseason I don't know how, other than the draft, the Liberty will be able to get Charles that supporting talent. She has remained true to her New York roots and has been the face of this franchise for past five seasons. The end of another season without so much as a trip to the Finals could really bring Charles to a real crossroads in her career. 

  

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