The Liberty are coming off consecutive overtime losses, which is why they sit at 2-2 instead of still being undefeated. After a Tuesday afternoon loss, New York has plenty of time to get ready for its next game at home on the 31st against the Minnesota Lynx (8 p.m./ESPN2).
“We took the day off afterwards and yesterday was a day of reckoning for our players and he coaches to talk it out,” Laimbeer said in a conference call. “Today was also getting back to business of picking up our intensity and our execution. I think after today we’re past it and we’re moving on. But there’s no question that one free throw here and one free throw there and we’re 4-0 instead of 2-2, but we put ourselves in that position by not executing offensive-wise and it’s something we really have to work on getting better at.”
Tina Charles has averaged 23.5 points per game and Sugar Rodgers is second on the team with 16.5. But after those combined 40 points per game comes the drop off. “I’d like to see one player stand up and be another major scoring option,” Laimbeer said.
Starters Tanisha Wright and Carolyn Swords average 6.8 and 6.5 points per game, respectively. Shavonte Zellous has come off the bench and averaged six points per game. Lindsay Harding is good for over four assists per game, but isn’t a scoring threat, only averaging four points.
“I don’t see Tanisha being a big scorer, and Swords isn’t a big scorer, so every night is going to be a bit different,” Laimbeer said. “But I think I need somebody from one of our bench players to pick up the scoring load for us. The natural one would be Zellous and we’re going to push her in that direction.”
In a time of offensive plight, Tina Charles has been reliable. In addition to the scoring, the 2012 MVP has averaged 12 rebounds, and four assists. “You know every night you come to the gym on a consistent basis, year-in, year-out, you’re going to get 18 points and nine and a half, 10 rebounds,” Laimbeer said. “This year she’s doing even better than that because she’s driven for success. She’s on a mission right now.”
New York’s defense has been solid through four games. Defense was the key for Laimbeer when he played for a pair of title teams with the Detroit Pistons, and it’s been vital in his WNBA coaching career. Laimbeer won three titles as head coach of the Detroit Shock and was one win away from leading the Liberty to the finals last season. And according to the coach, they’ve actually improved on the defensive end. “I do think we’re better than last year,” Laimbeer said.
Fouling has been a bit of a problem, as the Atlanta Dream shot 42 free throws in Tuesday’s win over the Liberty. But opponents haven’t had success from the field, as New York has held all four opponents under 40% shooting. “Right now our field goal percentage against is historic,” Laimbeer said. “I assume it’s not sustainable for the entire season but for right now it’s an historic number.”
The Liberty will have a good challenge when they host thehigh-scoring Lynx, who have done what the Liberty have not and won its first four games. Maya Moore, the 2014 MVP, leads the league with 25 points per game and is the only player with a higher average than Charles.