The Liberty head into the 2018 training camp with a new head coach and Hall of Famer, Katie Smith. As one of the more successful teams during the regular season, the Liberty finished as the top team in the Eastern Conference the last three years but have struggled in playoff runs to advance past the second-round and single-elimination games.
After finishing 22-12 in 2017 and making it to the second round of the playoffs they were eliminated by the Washington Mystics. The Liberty will return a key core of players in re-signing eight-time All WNBA performer Tina Charles along with Kia Vaughn, Bria Hartley, Lindsay Allen and Rebecca Allan. They added free agents in Kelly Farris, Rashada Gray and Ify Ibekwe.
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Kia Nurse joins Bria Hartley, Tina Charles, Kiah Stokes and Kelly Farris as Husky grads who currently play for the Liberty. Nurse was a first round selection as No. 10 in the 2018 draft.
Nurse was a four year starter for Connecticut with four straight Final Four appearances and two National Championships under her belt. She brings size at the guard position at six foot who brings an all-around presence on both sides of the ball. She can score it many different ways and certainly adds depth from a scoring standpoint, especially beyond the arc which was a need headed into the draft. Nurse Averaged 13.5 points and shot 44 percent from the three point line this season.
Depth In the Frontcourt
The Liberty are loaded down low starting with Tina Charles, who averaged a double-double last season in 18 points and 10 rebounds and is backed by Kiah Stokes, Kia Vaughn and Amanda Zahui B. In their second-round pick in the draft, the Liberty picked up six-six Tennessee center Mercedes Russell at No. 22.
Russell is an All-American center who’s draft stock dropped throughout the course of the season, but at one time was considered an early to mid pick. She averaged nearly a double-double her senior season at Tennessee at 15.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game shooting the ball 58 percent from the field. She will need to impress early to see minutes.
The Liberty are set to take on the Chicago Sky on Sunday, May 20th at 7pm ET at Wintrust Arena in Chicago. They will open up at home on Friday, May 25th at 7:30pm at Westchester County Center.