New York City - The second unit is the group that gives the starters a much needed rest.
Fresh legs in crunch time is essential, and those five in relief can assure the starters are at their optimum to close a game out. Those coming off the bench can take on a responsibility transcending the resting of starters. They can build on the lead or momentum established by the first five.
On Sunday, we had firsthand evidence of this. The New York Liberty defeated the San Antonio Stars, 75-65. The Madison Square Garden meeting saw a Eastern Division-leading Liberty hosting a struggling 5-14 team. In the end, the Liberty were rescued by the second unit.
Coach Bill Laimbeer admitted his Liberty team was lethargic and were very close to being upset victims. Entering the final quarter, the Liberty held a three-point lead. Time for the second unit to get their chance, more minutes with the game on the line. They answered the call in a big way, ultimately sealing the verdict.
There were individual heroics. Brittany Boyd energizing the attack the way she knows best. In the post, Amanda Zahui B. endeared herself to fans. not only for her team-high 14 points, but for showing an infectious hustle the Liberty faithful loved and enthusiastically. In the final analysis, it was about the entire unit, with the second unit stepping to the front to solidify a Liberty win.
In the course of the season, there are times you need this. You need effort like that from the all-important second unit.
The view outside Madison Square Garden never gets old:
Carolyn Swords, warming up before the game with Liberty legend and current director of player development Teresa Weatherspoon:
San Antonio on offense:
San Antonio point guard Moriah Jefferson, with sneakers perhaps inspired by the classic ruby slippers of "Wizard Of Oz" fame:
Jayne Appel-Marinelli (left) and Amanda Zahui B. battle for rebounding position:
Kiah Stokes, about to attempt a foul shot for the Liberty:
Liberty players address the media on the tragic events of the past week following the game: