Fever-Liberty Preview




The New York Liberty and Indiana Fever are each tasked with trying to bounce back from the worst season in the history of their respective franchises.

That quest begins for both on Friday night in suburban New York.

After three consecutive seasons finishing atop the Eastern Conference in the regular season, New York went 7-27 in 2018. The Liberty produced the fewest number of wins in club history and enter this campaign amid a 13-game losing streak.

But that's in the past, as New York potentially has a decent chance to get off to a solid start. The Liberty, who are also under new ownership, play five of their first six games at the Westchester County Center, and begin with a home-and-home versus Indiana.

"Our main objective as a staff and team is to commit to competing every single day and continue to grow as a unit," second-year coach Katie Smith told the Liberty's official website back in December. "We have a lot of work to do and are extremely excited for the upcoming challenge."

Though New York features one of the league's top players in Tina Charles (19.7 points, 7.0 rebounds per game in 2018), it ranked near the bottom of the WNBA averaging 77.7 points as a team. It also did not help that the Liberty allowed 84.8 points per contest.

The addition of second overall draft pick Asia Durr from Louisville should provide a boast on the offensive end. The All-American Durr averaged 21.3 points as a senior for the Cardinals and could give New York the all-around floor presence it needs.

Indiana, meanwhile, is trying to better itself following two straight sixth-place finishes in the East, and setting a club record for the fewest wins after going 6-28 in 2018. It was only four years ago that the Fever reached the WNBA Finals, but then went 17-17 in 2016 and combined for 15 victories over the past two dismal seasons.

The only other team in the league who averaged fewer points than the Liberty in 2018, was Indiana (76.4). And also, like New York, the Fever were among the worst defensive teams a year ago, yielding an average of 85.7 points.

Candice Dupree (14.2 ppg) remains Indiana's most consistent offensive option. However, third overall pick Teaira McCowan should allow the Fever to see improvement in the paint on both ends of the floor. The 6-foot-7 Mississippi State product averaged 18.4 points, 13.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks this past season, and is expected to help the Fever better their paltry 47.2 rebound percentage from 2018.

"I think when you look at the pieces that we have, the players that we have on this team, adding someone with (McCowan's) size, and just being able to do the little things defensively, I think that will really help everybody overall," vice president of basketball operations Tamika Catchings told the Fever's official website.

Indiana snapped a five-game losing streak to New York with last season's 68-55 road win on Aug. 4.

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