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Ionescu ready to go full speed in 2022

Liberty point guard says ankle injury is fully healed

April 20, 2022 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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Sabrina Ionescu was called a generational talent, a transformational player, a triple-double machine and the New York Liberty’s potential savior.

But that was two years ago.

A severe ankle injury that cut short her rookie campaign at the WNBA bubble site in Florida and hindered her second full season is now fully healed, according to Ionescu.

That means she’s ready to become exactly what she was supposed to be when the Liberty took her with the first overall pick in the 2020 draft.

“[Training camp] has been a lot different already,” Ionescu said Tuesday as the Liberty continued to prepare for their season opener May 7 vs. Connecticut at Downtown’s Barclays Center.

“This offseason really consisted of eight months of rehab and training. That’s literally what I did since the season ended to right now. So it’s just been a lot of getting my body healthy, getting my ankle healthy from the season that just happened.”

Betnijah Laney is happy to have Sabrina Ionescu back at full strength as the Liberty continue to prepare for the 2022 season. AP Photo by Rick Scuteri

Ionescu only managed to compete in three contests as a rookie and was limited by her lingering injury a season ago when she averaged 11.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists in 30 games before the Liberty fell to Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs.

Buoyed by the emergence of fellow standouts like All-Star Betnijah Laney and reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Michaela Onyenwere, New York appears poised to make a run at the franchise’s first-ever title.

But only if Ionescu returns to the form that made her the NCAA’s all-time triple-doubles leader and two-time Wooden Award winner as the best player in the nation.

“I learned a lot of lessons last year and learned what I should and shouldn’t do,” Ionescu said. “Don’t play if you’re not healthy. That’s probably the main thing. It’s a long game, and it was my second year.

“Thank God that I didn’t get more injured or get a different injury, but sometimes playing through it isn’t always the right way. And so that’s definitely something that I learned is just speak up, be confident in your decision if you do or don’t think that you’re able to go at 100 percent.”

Ionescu’s teammates can’t wait to see how good the Liberty can be with their maestro at the helm.

“Obviously having Sabrina healthy, it’s a difference,” Laney said. “She’s able to move the way she would like to move on the court. She’s been vocal, getting us into our actions and everything. So we’re excited to have her back. We’re excited to have her healthy for training camp and the season and to have everybody come together and look good.”

A former two-time Wooden Award winner at Oregon, Sabrina Ionescu is raring to go in 2022, fully recovered from an ankle injury that limited her effectiveness the past two season. AP Photo by John Locher

Nothing will look better to Brooklyn basketball fanatics than seeing Ionescu at full health and leading the Liberty attack.

“It’s not fair to the team if I’m not playing at 100 percent and able to give them everything that I have,” she said. “So I’m able to do that now and excited to just get to work and continue to get better every day.”

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