After record-setting viewership numbers for this year’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, the Liberty are hoping to ride that wave into the summer with their revamped superteam.
One of the WNBA’s original eight teams, there likely has never been more buzz around the Liberty entering a season after their offseason deals for three of the league’s best players — Breanna Stewart, Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot.
“I would love to consider them the same fanbase [college and professional]. … The games were incredible. Quality of play, all-time high. Our league is really good and the basketball is second to none,” Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said at the team’s media day Monday. “So, if you’re a fan of the game, and you liked what you saw this spring, I would pay attention this summer. I think there’s a real opportunity to see some special play out there.
“It’s a great opportunity for fans of basketball that maybe haven’t had the chance or really the opportunity to key in on our league. Now’s the time.”
Stewart, the 2018 league MVP and two-time champion with the Seattle Storm, signed as a free agent.
Jones, the 2021 league MVP with the Connecticut Sun, arrived via trade.
And Vandersloot, a four-time All-Star, is considered one of the best point guards in league history.
That trio of stars joins third-year guard Sabrina Ionescu, the first overall pick of the 2020 draft, who brings no injury baggage to start the season — a new concept for the guard who deemed her health “a blessing.”
With all that star power, the Liberty are one of the favorites to bring home the title for the first time in franchise history.
The season gets underway May 19, in Washington against the Mystics.
“The next couple of weeks, what’s gonna happen is we’re gonna create a standard and strive for excellence and that’s what’s going to help us get to that point,” Stewart said.
With the excitement surrounding the Liberty’s opener, they’re taking each day as it comes, giving their newly acquired players rest after playing overseas in the offseason.
“I haven’t had them on the floor yet, so I’m still working on that fun part. Can’t wait for that to happen,” head coach Sandy Brondello said with a laugh. “But it was good to see Stewie return to play today, she was on court just moving. They’re sponges. Like [Jones], they’re watching. They pick things up really quickly. I think we’re gonna be able to open the playbook up a little bit.”
Neither Stewart nor Jones was active on the court during the portion of practice open to the media, and Vandersloot is in concussion protocol…
Read More: Rebuilt Liberty aim to make good on growing WNBA buzz 2023-05-09 00:30:00