Friday, July 22, 2016

Patsos optimistic in Siena underclassmen making great strides

Already in possession of one of MAAC's most experienced starting lineups, Jimmy Patsos has high hopes for the remainder of his rotation pieces, raving about underclassmen and their improvement. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)

With four seniors and a sophomore capable of receiving Player of the Year consideration if he improves even 50 percent from his freshman campaign, Jimmy Patsos has plenty of reasons to be bullish on his Siena team's chances going into next season.

Add to that a deep bench with burgeoning young talent that continues to enhance their skill sets as they progress in their careers, and you get the bona fide contender that the Saints position themselves as on paper entering their first game in November.

"They're good," Patsos simply assessed of his underclassmen. "Sammy Friday, our freshman, he's going to be heard from. I coached Joe Smith, who was the national freshman of the year, and Sammy is legit. He could run and jump and shot block and finishes around the rim."

"In three weeks, Sammy has changed a lot," Patsos said of the 6-foot-8, 235-pound newcomer. "Brett, Lavon and Javion are obviously a force, and he's joined right in there with him. Now Willem (Brandwijk) makes the (Dutch) national team and he's playing the four and the three, he could slide a bit."

Despite his abundance of riches in the frontcourt, though, Patsos erred on the side of caution when sizing up whether or not it would be the deciding factor in putting Siena over the top.

"We're a versatile team," he conceded, "but being big isn't always a winner. Historically, it hasn't proven to be a winning formula. It helps you, don't get me wrong. But you've got to have good guard play. Kenny Wormley deserves a lot of credit for stepping into a tough situation last year. We went 10-5 with Kenny starting, and he played defensive basketball. That's what I want him to do again."

In the backcourt, joining Wormley; who served as the Saints' point guard while Marquis Wright recovered from a foot injury that sidelined him through the majority of MAAC play, will be Kadeem Smithen, who is eligible again after sitting out following his transfer from Richmond.

"I want him to fit in," said Patsos of Smithen. "He's two years out of competition. We need Kadeem, Kenny, Khalil (Richard), and Evan Fisher to be great next year."

Although not a guard, Fisher has drawn rave reviews for his offseason development as he begins his sophomore campaign, and the forward has added a new dimension to the table this year.

"He's shooting the ball really well," Patsos said. "I'll tell you one thing about Evan Fisher: We lost Ryan Oliver, and that scares the hell out of me, but Evan is our best shooter this summer. Highest percentage in shooting drills, executing, reporting back to us, Evan Fisher's our best three-point shooter right now. If that's the case, I might have to use him like Kelly Olynyk. I don't mind it. If he's our best three-point shooter, he's going to play."

"My worry is our shooting, because we lost Ryan Oliver," he admitted. "He's gone, and I don't see a pure shooter out there like him and Rob Poole, but Evan Fisher might be our best shooter, and if we have to play teams with a five man that shoots threes, so be it."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A.J. English to begin professional career in Italy

A.J. English's professional journey will begin in Italy after Iona point guard signed his first contract Wednesday. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)

A.J. English has taken his talents to the professional level.

Four months removed from a career-defining March in which he led Iona to a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship and NCAA Tournament appearance, English will begin his pro career in Italy, signing with New Basket Enel Brindisi of Serie A.

A three-time first team all-MAAC selection, English averaged 22.6 points, 6.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game for Iona last season, leading the Gaels to their sixth consecutive postseason appearance and first conference title since 2013. The 6-foot-4 point guard capped off his final campaign with Most Outstanding Player honors in the MAAC tournament, lifting Iona past regular season champion Monmouth to earn an automatic bid into the 68-team NCAA Tournament field.

After an impressive showing in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, where he received Most Valuable Player recognition, English was considered a potential second-round pick in last month's NBA Draft. He was not one of the 60 players selected, though, and most recently played on the Golden State Warriors' Summer League team alongside former Iona teammate David Laury.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed. English joins a roster at Enel Brindisi that includes some household names at the collegiate level in the United States, such as former SMU point guard Nic Moore and one-time Syracuse wing Kris Joseph.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Liberty 83, Sun 76: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

New York City - Optimist or pessimist?

The optimist sees the positive, the glass is half-full. The latter reads doom and gloom into every situation. Yes, pessimists would say, that proverbial glass is half-empty.
This came to mind as the Liberty struggled against the Connecticut Sun on Sunday. The Liberty were able to hold off a Connecticut team entering Madison Square Garden with a 6-15 record. The 83-76 final score necessitated a strong final quarter on the part of the hosts, now 17-7 and on top of the WNBA Eastern Division.

On paper, this should have been a yawner, with the Liberty running away from their Nutmeg State competition. The half-empty crowd would point to just getting by a team well south of .500 as proof you really are not a contender. In reality, this was a Connecticut team playing much better of late, better than their record and owners of a recent win over Minnesota.

The half-full attitude would look at this as the Liberty doing what needed to be done on an afternoon when not everything was clicking, especially on a turnover prone offense. Getting it done in the face of adversity is a trait of a championship-caliber team. This, the optimistic view would say, is yet added evidence this Liberty team will be very dangerous come the WNBA’s second season, the playoffs.   

No matter which perspective you subscribe to, both parties would certainly find a point to agree on: This is a team taking on the tough, aggressive attitude of their coach, Bill Laimbeer, ateam that will not concede without a battle.

Entering the Garden on the sixth floor, with chicken and fries on the board 45 minutes before the tip:
In one of the Garden lounges, a personal favorite: Chuck Berry and Mick Jagger meeting in 1969:
Brittany Boyd running the Liberty offense:
Connecticut breaking the huddle after a timeout:
Tina Charles shows her form at the foul line:
Officials Don Hudson, Jeff Wooden, and Sue Blauch huddle during a late timeout:
With the victory in the books, Bill Laimbeer meets the media:
Exiting MSG's sixth floor at the end of the day:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Liberty 83, Sun 76: Tempo-Free Analysis

Brittany Boyd sets up Liberty offense. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose of Hoops)

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

New York City - The Connecticut Sun entered Madison Square Garden with a 6-15 record, a bit deceptive, as the Sun have won three of their last five. Included was an overtime victory over Minnesota and road conquest of Indiana. The Liberty, at 16-7, had a four-game win streak snapped at Minnesota two nights earlier. Taking care of business on this sultry Sunday was, one would ascertain, job one for New York.
It was far from easy, and the Liberty were challenged. In the end, they did what elite teams did, finding a way to win as they posted an 83-76 victory. New York is now 17-7, while the Sun fall to 6-16.

First quarter: The first four minutes see the Sun get off to a good start, essential away from home. The score is 9-6 in their favor. Of greater significance is the fact they are establishing an inside game, with three of four field goals in the paint. In a fairly even quarter, Connecticut continues to scrap inside, with Alyssa Thomas doing some damage. Late in the quarter, Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer goes with a three-guard offense with Brittany Boyd, Shavonte Zellous and Sugar Rodgers. The trio allows New York to close the quarter on a positive note.
Score: New York 21, Connecticut 15

Second quarter: The first two minutes do not give us a field goal, instead yielding a plethora of whistles. Both teams are struggling to get into a flow early on. The Sun take advantage of Liberty miscues and errors of ball handling commission by turning them into transition opportunities. Tanisha Wright’s 15-footer at the 4:35 mark is the first New York field goal this quarter. The Liberty finish the quarter with four field goals, none in the paint, and are fortunate to be down just a bucket at intermission.
Score: Connecticut 39, New York 36
Possessions: 42
Offensive efficiency: Connecticut 91, New York 86

Third quarter: Connecticut gets out with another good start to win the first four minutes by an 8-6 count. The Liberty trail by four with a lot of time remaining. The danger here is letting the underdog Sun, on the road no less, keep hanging around. Outside of the latter part of quarter number one, the Liberty have not sustained a solid run. No sooner than I get done writing this and the Liberty put a run together. The reinsertion of Boyd in the lineup was a big factor.
Score: New York 55, Connecticut 53

Fourth quarter: The Liberty open the final stanza with that previously mentioned momentum. I am not a big plus/minus stats person, but this got my attention. The stat sheet at the end of the third quarter had Boyd as the game leader with a plus-12. Not surprised one bit. In fact, Boyd is running the offense for most of this fourth quarter. With three minutes to go, the Liberty lead 74-69. As has been said previously, championship contender teams close these games out. Jasmine Thomas has played well from the guard spot, Chiney Ogwumike is an effective scorer and rebounder. In the stretch, their teammates have not responded or provided support.
Final score: New York 83, Connecticut 76   
Possessions: Connecticut 83, New York 84
Offensive efficiency: Connecticut 92, New York 99

eFG%: Connecticut 37, New York 48
Free Throw Rate: Connecticut 32, New York 42
Offensive Rebound%: Connecticut 26, New York 25
Turnover Rate: Connecticut 13, New York 19

Leading scorers and EF:
Connecticut: Chiney Ogwumike 18 points, EF 27
New York: Swin Cash 16 points, EF 24

What Connecticut did well: Get to the line. Coach Curt Miller wanted good ball movement to give the Sun a shot that was in each player’s range and could draw fouls. They definitely did the latter, attempting 26 free throws.

What the Liberty did well: Find a way to win. At times it can sound trite, but that was the case. Laimbeer admitted his team was a bit lethargic and in need of a soon-approaching rest. On a day they were challenged by an improved Connecticut team, the Liberty dug deep and found a way to get the win.

Notes of numeric consequence: Numbers can lie. The Liberty turnover rate was 19 percent, a borderline but acceptable mark. The damage was done as those errors led to 27 Sun points.

The Liberty attempted four three-pointers, hitting two. The Sun attempted 19, canning five for a 26 percent rate. Ogwumike and Tina Charles shared rebounding honors with 10 each.

Back to plus/minus, Charles and Cash led the way with at plus-15 while Boyd finished at plus-14. Numbers aside, the feeling here is Boyd (eight points, three rebounds, two assists and three steals in 29 minutes) sparked this win with her play off the bench.

The Liberty enjoyed a 36-28 advantage on points in the paint. Both teams were tied with 13 second chance points. The Sun held a 17-9 edge in fast break points, most coming off those Liberty turnovers.

Ogwumike (18 points) and Jasmine Thomas (16) combined for 34 of the Sun’s 76 points. As noted, they were the prime and only consistent threat for Connecticut.

Final thoughts:

“She’s a good player, coming off knee injury and hitting stride. We did not have energy. We weren’t executing, let them back in, didn’t run offense and they got the lead. Great contributor, played hard, gave us energy. She’s (Brittany Boyd) growing as a basketball player, finds her teammates and they trust her a lot more. Every team is going to be tested. I told our team they are playing better and will not be easy. We had a gutsy win and found the way to win. Tomorrow we take off, and Tuesday it’s on the road. The schedule has been brutal last month and credit our players for weathering it. The next few games are very important for our seeding. Cash was a big part of our win tonight. She made some very big plays for us and knew tonight was her time. We are not a three-point shooting team. Pound the ball in the paint is our game.”- Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer

“They are aggressive. They have probably the best defensive field goal percentage in the league. We wanted to move our players and move the ball to get in the paint. I believe in the three-point shot, but I don’t think we are a good outside shooting team. Too many times, we rushed a possession by firing a three.” - Connecticut coach Curt Miller

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Rider releases non-conference schedule

Kevin Baggett and Rider released non-conference schedule Wednesday, with Broncs playing all but two games away from home. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)

By Brandon Scalea (@brandonscalea)

​A little late to the party, the Rider men’s basketball team finally released its full non-conference schedule yesterday. At first glance, the schedule looks a bit daunting, especially since nine of the 11 games will be played away from Alumni Gym.​

The schedule is highlighted by an appearance in the Gotham Classic and road trips to South Florida and NC State. The Gotham Classic will feature December games for the Broncs, when they will take on Pacific, North Carolina A&T and Massachusetts on the road, before hosting Kennesaw State in a mid-week game on December 14. That home game will be followed by one against Drexel two nights later.

For the first time in three years, Rider will not open the season against local rival Princeton. Instead, its 2016-17 season will begin on November 11 in Virginia, when the Broncs take on Hampton, a program that has made the NCAA Tournament by winning the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference each of the last two years. Three days later, Rider will head to Connecticut to wrap up a home-and-home series with Hartford. At Alumni Gym last year, the Broncs defeated Hartford in double overtime. On November 19, Rider travels to Tampa for a meeting with South Florida of the American Athletic Conference. They will then come back up north to the Bronx for a November 23 game at Rose Hill Gymnasium, taking on Fordham of the Atlantic 10. 

The Broncs will stay in the New York area for a game at Wagner on November 26. The Seahawks, Northeast Conference regular season champions last season, came to Lawrenceville last year and stole one away from Rider, winning on a last-second, put-back dunk by Dwaun Anderson that made SportsCenters Top 10 plays. Wagner came one game away from playing in the NCAA Tournament last year, falling short to Fairleigh Dickinson in the NEC championship game.

The non-conference schedule will be wrapped up on December 28, when the Broncs head down to Raleigh for a matchup with the Wolfpack of NC State. These two programs have met only once before, back in the Old Spice Classic in 2007. NC State was able to escape that game with a 72-63 win.

Riders full schedule will be available in September.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

For Siena's seniors, final go-round marked by chance to exceed expectations

Marquis Wright leads a quartet of seniors that look to validate the household name status they have achieved in MAAC circles over first three years at Siena. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)

Jimmy Patsos' first three seasons at Siena have been marked by his upperclassmen stepping up to lead on and off the court, starting with Rob Poole and Evan Hymes during the Saints' run to the CBI championship, and continuing with Ryan Oliver in a supporting role.

This year, four seniors get the chance to make the most out of their last moment in the sun, and based on the offseason workouts this summer, each one is answering the call in advance of their final campaign, perhaps none more so than point guard Marquis Wright.

"Marquis looks good," Patsos said of his floor general and the progression he has made, which is magnified since Wright's return from injury midway through last season. "He's working very hard. I'm very pleased with Marquis. I think he took the losses to Iona and Morehead State personally last season."

In particular, Patsos is placing a lot of the credit for Wright's renewed work ethic in the hands of new assistant coach Abe Woldeslassie, hired this offseason after spending time on the staff of Bob McKillop at Davidson.

"Abe's doing a great job," Patsos said. "Marquis is doing workouts with all the coaches, but he's really taken a liking to Abe. He's kind of a guy who does a lot of workout stuff like that. You're just going to see him with Marquis and say, 'wow, he just does so many things well.'"

"Marquis is really important to us," Patsos continued. "We learned how to win without him, but I'd much rather have him. I want to see him do a few more things. I want to see him get a little more: a) vocal, and b) really tight with the ball, because I want to see him play professionally. One thing he has to do is tighten up his game. His ball handling is good, but he can't turn it over as much. We're really looking forward to Marquis, he's had a good spring."

While Wright anchors the backcourt, Siena's three-pronged front line of Swiss Army knife Lavon Long; coupled with all-MAAC honorees Brett Bisping and Javion Ogunyemi, appears to be among the best in the conference on paper, but the man who puts the lineup together is taking any and all prognostications with a grain of salt.

"I've always seen Lavon as something of a sixth man," said Patsos of the Maryland native he affectionately dubbed "The Terminator." "I know everybody wants to start, but he does so many things. I think Lavon can also play some four. He's a great four man, he has the ball in his hands a lot. He adds to our frontcourt. He probably will come off the bench just because he's so good at a little of everything, but I said that last year and he still started."

"Lavon's a great player," he further stated. "He's just got to get more consistent, and there's games that he's won us just by his cerebral play."

Of Bisping and Ogunyemi, Patsos began his defense by urging to expect the expected in terms of their numbers.

"Brett and Javion are going to be Brett and Javion," he said. "But there's going to be people that are going to come after them this year, so they've got to get a little better. I'd like to see Brett and Javion work a little better together, high-low."

"They're two different players," Patsos admitted. "Brett is more of an outside player, Javion could shoot it, but he's an inside force and a defensive player. It's funny, Brett and Javion each do well when the other one doesn't. In other words, Brett's got to pick up his defense, Javion's got to become a little more of a consistent wing player. I don't want to say Draymond Green, but that would be nice. That's the kind of scenario I'm looking for."

Bisping, a first team all-MAAC selection, and Ogunyemi, the conference's reigning Defensive Player of the Year, should both be among the preseason first team honorees when those names are released shortly before the season. With that in mind, Patsos took time to reaffirm the notion that no one is sleeping on either of his forwards, and that the time is now for both to produce accordingly.

"They're going to come after them," he candidly assessed. "There are no surprises. People didn't know if Brett Bisping was going to be any good because he was hurt, nobody knew about Javion coming back from BU and not knowing if he was going to be eligible, so they surprised a lot of people. Now, they're marked men. It's what you do when they know who you are."

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Patsos and Siena made the grade, but have room for improvement

Even after 21-win season that reaffirmed upward mobility in Siena basketball, Jimmy Patsos is adamant about need to not only maintain their foundation, but improve upon it. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)

With 21 wins and their second postseason appearance in three years under Jimmy Patsos, it's easy to say Siena's resurgence last season was an overall positive.

However, the Saints' third-place finish in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference behind regular season champion Monmouth and tournament champion Iona leaves the indelible reminder that there are greater heights to be attained, and Patsos is not shying away from that.

"I don't give plus or minus," he said of his grading system, reviewing a 21-13 campaign that ended with an opening-round loss in the College Basketball Invitational to a Morehead State team that eventually played for that tournament's championship. "I give A, B, C, D, F, and we got a B. Our program was very solid, and I'm really pleased with that."

"To get an A, we would have had to go really far in the CBI; Morehead State was really good, they outhustled us and beat us by a couple," Patsos continued. "I really was proud of our team, really happy with the way we were progressing, but we're not there yet. I want to play Monday night. I want to get to the NIT, go further, win a postseason tournament."

In light of the goals that still exist in Loudonville, Siena still accomplished a great deal this past season, with the MAAC quarterfinal victory over a Manhattan team seeking its third straight conference crown chief among the list of accolades.

"Beating Manhattan was a great accomplishment," Patsos proclaimed. "I would like to emphasize that because Steve (Masiello) is a great coach, they were the defending champs, they played really well, so that was a big deal for us. Then we played Iona, we came out and we didn't have a great first half. We weren't good enough, they beat us, and they went on to win the title. We're losing to good teams, but we've got to start beating the good teams."

Just as he did following his first season at the helm, when Siena won the CBI, Patsos brings the bulk of his rotation back next year, losing only Ryan Oliver and Imoh Silas from a roster that returns a pair of all-MAAC honorees in senior forwards Brett Bisping and Javion Ogunyemi. In addition, point guard Marquis Wright is healthy entering his senior season, while Lavon Long projects to be a Swiss Army knife of sorts for the Saints as reigning MAAC Sixth Man of the Year Nico Clareth makes the jump from freshman to sophomore, not to mention a young and burgeoning corps of reserves that make Siena one of the more well-rounded units in the conference as the Saints once again threaten Monmouth and Iona for MAAC supremacy. A non-conference schedule featuring the likes of Kansas, George Washington, Hofstra, St. Bonaventure, UNC Asheville and Florida Gulf Coast; all of whom were postseason teams in some capacity, will no doubt put Patsos' lofty goals to the test early and often.

"We had the toughest non-conference RPI schedule in the MAAC last year," he boldly stated, "and we will again this year. The MAAC said they wanted us to play a tougher out-of-conference schedule, we're doing it."

While the strong non-league slate will harden Siena for the battles that occur in MAAC play, there is still the matter of getting over the hump against the top teams in the league, something Patsos was adamant about fixing, especially against the likes of Monmouth and Iona; as well as Saint Peter's, who the Saints have not beaten in Jersey City since Fran McCaffery's final season in 2010.

"Overall, we got a B," he reaffirmed. "We were 1-4 against Monmouth and Iona, and that's not going to get it done. We're doing all the right things, knock on wood. The disappointing thing was we didn't have enough to beat Iona, then we didn't have enough to beat Morehead State to advance. We've got to get a little tougher. We've got to want it a little more. We got a B, that's really good. Now, I want to get an A, but I also want to maintain our B average, if that makes any sense."

Monday, July 11, 2016

Liberty 75, Stars 65: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

New York City - The second unit is the group that gives the starters a much needed rest.

Fresh legs in crunch time is essential, and those five in relief can assure the starters are at their optimum to close a game out. Those coming off the bench can take on a responsibility transcending the resting of starters. They can build on the lead or momentum established by the first five.
On Sunday, we had firsthand evidence of this. The New York Liberty defeated the San Antonio Stars, 75-65. The Madison Square Garden meeting saw a Eastern Division-leading Liberty hosting a struggling 5-14 team. In the end, the Liberty were rescued by the second unit.
Coach Bill Laimbeer admitted his Liberty team was lethargic and were very close to being upset victims. Entering the final quarter, the Liberty held a three-point lead. Time for the second unit to get their chance, more minutes with the game on the line. They answered the call in a big way, ultimately sealing the verdict.
There were individual heroics. Brittany Boyd energizing the attack the way she knows best. In the post, Amanda Zahui B. endeared herself to fans. not only for her team-high 14 points, but for showing an infectious hustle the Liberty faithful loved and enthusiastically. In the final analysis, it was about the entire unit, with the second unit stepping to the front to solidify a Liberty win.

In the course of the season, there are times you need this. You need effort like that from the all-important second unit.

The view outside Madison Square Garden never gets old:
Carolyn Swords, warming up before the game with Liberty legend and current director of player development Teresa Weatherspoon:
San Antonio on offense:
San Antonio point guard Moriah Jefferson, with sneakers perhaps inspired by the classic ruby slippers of "Wizard Of Oz" fame:
Jayne Appel-Marinelli (left) and Amanda Zahui B. battle for rebounding position:
Kiah Stokes, about to attempt a foul shot for the Liberty:
Liberty players address the media on the tragic events of the past week following the game:

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Liberty 75, Stars 65: Tempo-Free Analysis

Sugar Rodgers attacks basket for Liberty against San Antonio. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

New York City - Coming off a hard fought victory in Chicago on Friday, the New York Liberty entertained the San Antonio Stars on Sunday, with the visitors entering the Garden 5-14 and without leading scorer Kayla McBride, out for the season with a fractured foot. It is the kind of game coaches like the Liberty’s Bill Laimbeer can dread.

In the final analysis, the Liberty prevailed, 75-65. The second unit was the key and story as New York improved to 15-6 on the season.  

First quarter: The Liberty win the tap. As is the case every contest, the first pass goes into Tina Charles in the low post. Charles hits a weak-side cutting Sugar Rodgers with a perfect pass, making it 2-0. Just as it’s drawn up on the grease board. Carolyn Swords uses her 6-6 size to finish a few nice close in shots. Early on it is evident that San Antonio has a few good shooters and slashing types to get to the basket, but not a consistent post presence. That hurts, especially on defense, trying to match up with the likes of Charles and Swords.
Score: NY Liberty 22, San Antonio 17

Second quarter: Amanda Zahui B. mixes it up nice inside. At 6-5, her development with more playing time would be another inside threat Laimbeer would love to have. The Liberty’s Brittany Boyd sometimes violates the speed limit in a figurative sense. Still, you have to love the energy she brings. The Stars are hanging tough by looking to get conversions in transition rather than set up in half court.
Halftime: NY Liberty 33, San Antonio 31
Possessions: San Antonio 41, New York Liberty 42
Offensive efficiency: San Antonio 76, New York Liberty 79

Third quarter: Good start for the Liberty, essential in a game of this nature, as San Antonio hung around enough to be a serious threat. The first four minutes see the Liberty win 9-4 to establish a seven-point lead. That will be their largest from that point on. They threaten to pull away, and each time, the Stars are able to respond. Scoring by committee for San Antonio while Sydney Colson has put up a nice ten-point, three-assist performance through three quarters. Once again, it’s down to the final ten minutes, or maybe another overtime.
Score: NY Liberty 50, San Antonio 47

Fourth quarter: Again, the Liberty draw first blood. Going to the basket full speed, Boyd turns her back to the basket and puts up a shot that banks in as she hits the floor. Classic Boyd, giving the Liberty a little nine-point breathing room with seven-and-a-half minutes to go. The Liberty gradually open a 13-point lead. A major performer in the final quarter run was Zahui B., rapidly becoming a fan favorite with the Garden crowd thanks to her hustle and willingness to battle in the paint. No late run for San Antonio. No overtime.
Final: NY Liberty 75, San Antonio 65
Possessions: San Antonio 78, NY Liberty 80
Offensive efficiency: San Antonio 83, NY Liberty 94

eFG%: San Antonio 38, NY Liberty 45
Free Throw Rate: San Antonio 22, NY Liberty 32
Offensive Rebound%: San Antonio 22, NY Liberty 26
Turnover Rate: San Antonio 15, NY Liberty 18

Leading scorers and EF:
San Antonio: Monique Currie 17 points, EF 25
NY Liberty: Amanda Zahul B. 14 points, EF 17

NOTES: Tina Charles scored 10 points, but had an 18 EF thanks to four rebounds, three assists and no turnovers. Swords paced all rebounders with 11. Moriah Jefferson scored 11 points, posting an EF of 29. Jefferson added six boards, three steals and two assists, against just two turnovers.
Touchy subject: A woman’s weight. Seriously, Jayne Appel-Marinelli starred for Stanford before entering the WNBA. Appel-Marinelli is heavier than those Cardinal days. The roster has her at 6-4 and 210 pounds, but truthfully, she appears to be a little in excess of that. Appel-Marinelli scored two points, grabbing four rebounds in 23 minutes. She rarely went more than five minutes at a stretch due to conditioning. The point of all this? The Stars need an inside presence. Having Appel-Marinelli in top form would be a plus.

What the Liberty did well: Ride the second unit momentum to victory. Given the opportunity to get more minutes, they responded, and were the primary reason the home team pulled away for the victory.

What San Antonio did well: Hang around. Coach Bill Laimbeer admitted his club came out lethargic. Give credit to the Stars to seize the opportunity and nearly pull off a road victory.

Final thoughts
“Been coming for them. We need to trust the second unit more, come together, understand their identity, play defense. Hold it together, extend the lead and provide the spark. The minutes will increase. Our second unit has some exciting players and energized the crowd. Amanda is inside-out, can shoot from outside, rebound. Her confidence level was not good when we got here, but it has improved. She was solid in Minnesota, and when she is engaged in the game, she is a good player. She and Kiah are good interchangeable pieces. Both can rebound, and with both out there, we will get rebounds on offense and defense. Focused on winning this game. This was one you can fall down on, and we almost did. This is our job, there are no distractions. You need to put the effort every time out. We were a bit lethargic, and fortunately, our second unit got it done.” - NY Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer

Liberty player quotes on the “Black Lives Matter” movement and tragedy in Dallas:
“Me, personally, I don’t think you can play basketball and not voice your opinion. This is not something new for us, just happy we are unified in general.” Swin Cash

“I think having this platform allows us to engage in conversation.” Carolyn Swords

“Our team is in unique position. We come from different backgrounds. We have foreign players trying to understand what is happening in our nation.” -Swin Cash

“Just because it says Black Lives Matter, it does not mean all lives do not matter. We put Dallas5 because we mourn the loss of the five police who were killed in a peaceful protest.  We are grateful for their contributions and mourn them.” Kiah Stokes

“You guys are just as powerful. You can choose what to write about. You have the power to do so. I had a fourth-grade teacher that said do something to read about or something to write  about. You write about celebrities as Justin Bieber or a movement as this.” -  Tina Charles

“We emphasize all lives matter, but want to draw attention to black lives. Too many black lives are lost each day to senseless killing.” Tanisha Wright