Liberty off to best start since 2007, win 5 of first 6 games


New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, left, tries to get past Chicago Sky guard Stephanie Watts, right, during a WNBA basketball game Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Eileen T. Meslar)

BROOKLYN — The WNBA season isn’t even two weeks old and the New York Liberty have already doubled their win total from last year and are off to their best start since 2007.

New York has won five of its first six games, including a back-to-back on Sunday and Monday. The Liberty won only two games all last season.

“I didn’t know we’d be 5-1. I didn’t know what we’d be,” Liberty coach Walt Hopkins said. “I wanted us to play hard and execute. The 5-1 was a by-product of this group and their buy-in to everything we’ve been asking of them.”

The Liberty have been led by Sabrina Ionescu, who earned Eastern Conference player of the week honors. She had the 10th triple-double in league history last week and has been a huge reason the team is playing well.

“We wanted to start the season how we knew that we could,” Ionescu said. “It’s awesome to see that it’s showing and not taking a long time to build this.”

Even after such a poor season last year, the Liberty were still able to attract free agents like Betnijah Laney and trade for Natasha Howard and Sami Whitcomb, who brought championship experience with them from Seattle.

“I don’t believe that the win column really depicted what this team was capable of last year, especially with Sabrina going down in the first 3 games,” said Laney, who has scored at least 20 points in all six games. “I liked the fight I saw in New York last year and thought it was home.”

New York sits a half-game behind Connecticut in the standings. The Sun, who are unbeaten, moved into first in the AP power poll this week.

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