Eurobasket veterans are picking up the pieces
A positive takeaway from this loss was some more aggressive and encouraging play from both Amanda Zahui B. and Bria Hartley.
Previously, I made the case that Hartley’s presence in the starting rotation was hurting her team instead of helping. On Sunday, Hartley swapped with Asia Durr, and her minutes were so much more fruitful off the bench.
Hartley was intrusive on defense, providing a one-on-one game that was reminiscent of her last two games before EuroBasket. In her 13 minutes of play, she swiped the ball twice and shot 50 percent from the field while almost racking up double-digit points.
“I thought Bria was aggressive,” Smith said in her postgame presser. “[She] was able to knock down shots. She picks up the ball full court and tries to disrupt. I thought she was solid and thought she had a good solid effort.”
Zahui B.’s performance was a little polarizing. While she’s getting back to finishing more efficiently, her defense was a little erratic. Her 16 points, which included a pretty fadeaway, an “Amanda Zahui three” and some feeds inside from Charles, are exactly what New York needs. But, her three turnovers and five personal fouls are evidence that there are places she can tighten up to resume her pre-tournament rampage.
“You gotta challenge, be smarter,” Smith said on how Zahui B. can improve defensively. “Understand who she’s guarding, foot alignment, closing out, knowing who you are guarding…But I think foot alignment and not helping too much and being close to know when and not to help is key. Understanding situationals too and shot clock and what’s happening in the game.”
Against Chicago, not only does the Liberty need the return of a more consistent three-ball, but how about the return of an “Amanda Zahui Block.” She currently sits at third in the league in blocks per game behind Brittney Griner and Jonquel Jones.