No. 1 decide Sabrina Ionescu struggles in WNBA debut for Liberty

WNBA No. 1 draft decide Sabrina Ionescu did not have her finest capturing sport, however on the whole she mentioned she felt OK about her professional debut Saturday.

Ionescu had 12 factors, six rebounds and 4 assists as her New York Liberty fell 87-71 to league favourite Seattle in Bradenton, Florida.

Like the remainder of the Liberty, Ionescu struggled from the sector. She was 4-of-17 general and missed all eight of her 3-point photographs, essentially the most missed 3s with out a make in any debut in WNBA or NBA historical past. The earlier mark of futility belonged to O.J. Mayo, who went 0-for-7 in his 2008 debut with the Memphis Grizzlies.

New York as a workforce was 23-of-66 (34.8%) from the sector and 6-of-28 (21.4%) from lengthy vary on Saturday.

Ionescu, the previous Oregon star who had an NCAA-record 26 triple-doubles and was the consensus nationwide participant of the yr this previous season, scored her first basket on a putback with 5:14 left within the first quarter. In her senior season with the Geese, she averaged 17.5 factors, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists per sport.

“I feel there’s plenty of expectation on me coming in and simply producing the numbers I did in school,” Ionescu mentioned. “However I positively assume there’s going to be plenty of down and plenty of adversity I’ve to face so as to get there.

“I used to be simply completely satisfied to have the ability to see arguably the very best workforce within the league in our first sport and simply be taught from the defensive schemes that they threw at me and us as a workforce, and proceed to construct from that. I will dwell with 12, six and 4 and my first sport in opposition to the very best workforce. I am not used to taking eight 3s a sport. I am used to with the ability to come down and be capable to facilitate. Now I’ve to be extra of a scorer.”

The groups tipped off the primary sport of the 2020 WNBA season by leaving the court docket earlier than the nationwide anthem in honor of Breonna Taylor, the EMT who was killed in a police raid on her house on March 13. She is a spotlight of the WNBA’s social justice platform, and the gamers are carrying her title on the again of their jerseys.

“I am actually pleased with this league and this workforce and what they’re doing to amplify our voices,” Ionescu mentioned. “I am excited to see, hopefully, change being made.”

The Liberty, who’ve seven rookies led by Ionescu, have been in a position to hold with the extra skilled Storm for the primary half, trailing 42-35. However Seattle, the 2018 WNBA champion, pulled away within the second half. Nevertheless, Ionescu’s consolation degree appeared to extend in the course of the sport.

“I do know on each single ball display screen, plenty of consideration is on me and making an attempt to get the ball out of my arms,” she mentioned. “I am nonetheless studying, I am a rookie. I feel [it’s about] simply persevering with to place myself in uncomfortable positions so as to develop, and that is what I am doing.

“We will refine issues in each class, from protection to offense. I have to maintain the ball higher. However I feel we did some issues rather well; we gave them a sport, particularly for the primary three quarters. Us predicted to complete final, and them first … we did not fold firstly as a result of they’re who they’re, so I feel there’s plenty of positivity in that.”

Layshia Clarendon, the Liberty’s oldest participant at 29, led New York with 20 factors. Seattle coach Gary Kloppenburg mentioned the Storm emphasised trapping and pressuring Ionescu, who had 4 turnovers.

“We all know how good she is if you happen to permit her to do what she desires popping out of screen-and-rolls,” he mentioned. “We actually wished to focus on her, pressure some turnovers. I feel we did a reasonably good job for the primary sport of doing that.”

Seattle’s Breanna Stewart and Sue Chicken made their returns to the WNBA after each missed final season; Stewart had a torn Achilles tendon and Chicken had knee surgical procedure. Stewart, the 2018 MVP, had a team-high 18 factors and eight rebounds, whereas Chicken, at age 39 and beginning her 17th WNBA season, had 11 factors and 5 assists.

The Storm gamers didn’t deal with basketball in a postgame video convention name, saying they solely wished to speak about Taylor and the league’s social justice initiative.

“It looks like on this battle for justice, ladies at occasions get missed,” Chicken mentioned. “Till ‘Say Her Title’ happened, you did not actually hear about Breonna Taylor. As a ladies’s league, we’ve a tremendous alternative to deliver consciousness, make clear this.”

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