The Liberty Are Reinventing Themselves

The Liberty are not sure what the full identity of their revamped team should be. But they are certain about one aspect of it.

“I want teams to kind of be scared of us when they have to be on offense,” said forward Natasha Howard, who won the W.N.B.A.’s Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019, when she was with the Seattle Storm.

This will be Howard’s second season with the Liberty, but in many ways, and for many reasons, it seems unlikely to be much like her first. The team has a new head coach (Sandy Brondello), a new veteran center (Stefanie Dolson) and, players said, a new commitment to becoming a championship contender once the season begins May 6.

“There’s a sense of urgency,” guard Sabrina Ionescu said during the Liberty’s media day on Thursday. She added that the team did not want to wait years to become better, and had a “Why not us?” mentality.

Veterans like Howard and Dolson will be key to the Liberty’s success, but so will the younger players, who spoke on Thursday about how they’ve grown and what they still need to improve.

“I was so lost last year,” said DiDi Richards, a second-year guard-forward.

Richards said she often was in her own head while on the court, instead of being vocal, but she is working on changing that as coaches ask her to take on a bigger leadership role. “I’m ready for it,” she said.

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