Liberty look to bring it home in 2023
WNBA franchise brings in dynamic trio and local hoops hero
Four years ago, the Brooklyn Nets thought they put themselves on a surefire championship path after acquiring Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Now, both Irving and Durant are gone.
The New York Liberty have no such problems.
The Nets’ co-tenants at Barclays Center have spent their offseason building what many feel is a team destined to challenge for the franchise’s first-ever WNBA crown.
As they prepare to welcome former league Most Valuable Player Jonquel Jones and free-agent stars Breanna Stewart and Courtney Vandersloot to the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush, the Liberty also announced Wednesday that 13-year WNBA veteran Epiphanny Prince is coming home to Brooklyn.
The 35-year-old Prince, who attended Murry Bergtraum High School, spent the past three years with the Seattle Storm, where she played alongside Stewart and helped capture the 2020 WNBA title.
Prince played for the Liberty from 2015-18, but that was before the franchise moved into its Downtown digs.
The fourth overall pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft out of Rutgers, Prince is a training-camp invitee.
She likely won’t get the same fanfare as Jones, Stewart and Vandersloot, each of whom has already expressed their desire to bring a championship to our borough.
“Today is a historic day for the New York Liberty organization and fanbase,” said Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb Wednesday after the deals were announced.
“Stewie and Sloot are winners and choosing the Liberty in free agency shows that we’re all in on our commitment to bring a championship to New York,” he added. “Both players are among the league’s all-time greats, consummate teammates, and high-character individuals.”
The quartet of new players joins a squad led by Sabrina Ionescu, a two-time Wooden Award winner, former No. 1 overall pick and first-time All-Star starter a season ago, when New York pushed Chicago to a third and decisive game in the first round of the playoffs.
“We’re overjoyed to welcome Stewie, Sloot, and their loved ones to the Liberty family,” Kolb went on in a team-issued statement. “We can’t wait to see the monumental and lasting impact they’ll each have on the franchise and in the community.”
Jones arrived here last month via a three-team deal with Dallas that also brought Kayla Thornton here from Connecticut.
“I can’t wait to get this season going and show out in the Big Apple!” said the 29-year-old Jones, who has averaged 13.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 blocks per game over her first six WNBA seasons.
Stewart expressed her desire to win big here as well after winning a pair of crowns in Seattle. A former No. 1 pick out of UConn, the 6-foot-4 forward has averaged 20.3 points, 8.6 boards, 2.9 assists and 1.5 blocks per contest over her first six campaigns.
“I feel like, why not go to the biggest market in all of sports,” said Stewart in an ESPN interview last week. “And I’m really excited to go after their first championship.”
Vandersloot, who ranks third all-time in assists, spent 12 years in Chicago, where she guided the Sky to the 2021 WNBA championship.
The 12-year veteran averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game for Chicago.
The Liberty will open their much-anticipated season May 19 at Washington before hosting Indiana at Barclays on May 21.
Season tickets, group packages and single-game tickets are on-sale now at nyliberty.com.
Gianni Gotti and the Brooklyn College women’s basketball team remained perfect in 2023 Wednesday night.
But this one didn’t come easy.
Gotti continued her CUNYAC Player of the Year campaign with a game-high 23 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals as the Bulldogs improved to 11-0 in the new year and remained unbeaten in league action with a 73-63 triumph at Hunter College in Manhattan.
Dior Dorsey added 12 points and Sarah James added 10 for BC (15-7, 12-0 CUNYAC), which has not lost since a 75-67 setback at non-conference foe Cabrini University on Dec. 30.
The Bulldogs were clinging to a one-point lead with just over seven minutes remaining against the Hawks, but went on an 11-0 run sparked by Aleah Rafat’s layup and capped by Gotti’s jumper with 2:19 remaining to give BC a 73-61 cushion.
Gotti, a senior guard out of Oyster Bay, N.Y., also surpassed the 1,000-point plateau for her career Wednesday after being named CUNYAC and MBWA Division II/III Player of the Week Monday.
The Bulldogs will continue their pursuit of a third consecutive CUNYAC crown and berth in the D-III NCAA Tournament Friday evening vs. CCNY at the West Quad Gym.
On the men’s side, Malik Dale scored a career-high 41 points, knocking down seven 3-pointers, Wednesday to lift BC over Hunter, 99-83.
The Bulldogs (4-18, 2-10), who ended an eight-game losing streak, will also host CCNY Friday.
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