Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Liberty 70, Storm 64: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

We are honored to begin our second season of covering the New York Liberty, albeit as somewhat of a satellite of sorts. Just as he did for us last summer, Ray Floriani has branched out into the world of the one-time Eastern Conference powerhouse formerly led by Teresa Weatherspoon, Becky Hammon and Rebecca Lobo as head coach Bill Laimbeer seeks to return the Liberty to the forefront of the WNBA. Here is Ray's photo essay from last night's action at Madison Square Garden:

NEW YORK CITY­ - Hard to fathom the last trip here was about two months and forty degrees ago. The NIT final was the final buzzer on the season’s college coverage. Now, it is spring on a summer-like day with the New York Liberty at the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena.’

Getting off the train at Penn Station, the hallways resonated of extreme heat. It made me think of pitching great Luis Tiant. He loved to take the mound in conditions as these. In fact, one could see him go a full nine with about 12 strikeouts in this heat.

Walking past recent Baruch graduates, who had their commencement at MSG, it was time to settle into an air-conditioned Garden. No matter the calendar season, the focus is on basketball. The moves, counter moves, matchups, all integral parts of the game.

The Liberty trail the Seattle Storm by seven with three and a half minutes to go. The Garden crowd is behind them, lending vocal support. The Liberty, though, make their run courtesy of getting stops. The defense, a trademark of coach Bill Laimbeer, making its mark when it is dearly needed. The Liberty emerge 70-­64 victors. Laimbeer lauds the defense but insists, “we have to get on track on offense.” 

Afterwards, postgame interviews included a talk with Sugar Rodgers. Game scoring honors went to Seattle’s Sue Bird with 21 points. In crunch time, Rodgers defended Bird into a 2-of-7 shooting fourth quarter. After formal questions and answers, Rodgers; a Georgetown product, was thrilled to discuss Big East women’s basketball at length.

Just another example of the passion the women have for the game at all levels, and another reason the ‘W’ is a pleasure to follow.

Baruch graduates gathering and socializing outside the Garden following commencement:
New York Liberty shootaround about an hour prior to tipoff:
Seattle's Sue Bird in the corner getting set to come off a high post screen:
Even though there is WNBA basketball, the sign leading to the court reminds those of us bleeding blue about the New York Ranger game in Montreal:
Seattle's Temeka Johnson asks a question of official Lauren Holtkamp:
Bill Laimbeer meets the media:
Sugar Rodgers interviewed in the Liberty locker room:

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