Brooklyn Boro

Liberty center Shook to miss season

Former first-round pick out this year for personal reasons

May 3, 2022 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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With Saturday night’s season opener at Barclays Center looming, the New York Liberty got some bad news Monday when center Kylee Shook announced that she will miss the 2022 WNBA season due to what the team described as “personal reasons.”

Shook, who will not take any questions from the media in regard to her absence from the team that took her with the 13th overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft out of the University of Louisville, averaged 5.0 points and 3.5 rebounds during the first 50 games of her professional career.

“I have the utmost respect for Kylee. I know that she did not come to this decision easily and while she loves her teammates, the New York Liberty organization, as well as our fans, basketball needs to be secondary for her right now,” said Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb.

“We all have our own journey and this decision is part of Kylee’s and we support her 100 percent.”

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Scheduled to tip-off at 6 p.m. on Saturday on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush, the Liberty will host Connecticut, which reached the WNBA semifinals last year before bowing out to Chicago in four games.

New York will try to build on last year’s late playoff push, which saw them win their way in and get some help before dropping a one-game play-in to Phoenix.

New Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello begins her stint on the bench Saturday night at Barclays Center. AP Photo by Rick Scuteri

New head coach Sandy Brondello is doing her best to shake off the loss of Shook and prepare her team for the 30-game season ahead.

“Culture is a big part of developing a winning team for sustainable success, and so we spend time on that,” Brondello noted.

“What kind of team do we need to be to be the best we could be? What’s our identity going to be? And it’s a group effort; I’m not a dictator coach. So … it’s a lot of collaboration. … I’m really excited about where we’re at at the moment. But it’s an ongoing process to build that culture.”

Returning stars like Betnijah Laney, Natasha Howard, Michaela Onyenwere and Sabrina Ionescu will try to give New York its best regular-season performance since 2017, when the team went 22-12 and reached its last playoff series under the guidance of former head coach Bill Laimbeer.

Ionescu, who has been hampered by a bad ankle during her first two seasons in the league, might be the key to that refound success if All-Stars like Laney and Onyenwere, the reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year, benefit from her skills of facilitation.

“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.”

Sabrina Ionescu is finally healthy and ready to lead the Liberty back to the 2022 WNBA playoffs. AP Photo by Rick Scuteri

After hosting Connecticut here on Saturday, the Liberty will be in Chicago next Wednesday before kicking off a three-game homestand at Barclays vs. Indiana on May 13.

GIVE ME LIBERTY: The Liberty today announced last week that they have waived guard Paris Kea, who hadn’t played in the league since 2020, when she averaged 6.9 points in 11 games, including five starts, for New York. She was signed to a training camp contract on Jan. 14, but won’t be on the floor for Saturday’s season opener. … Next week’s homestand will also feature visits from Dallas (May 15) and Connecticut (May 17).

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