WNBA No. 1 draft decide Sabrina Ionescu did not have her finest capturing recreation, however on the whole she stated she felt OK about her professional debut Saturday.
Like the remainder of the Liberty, Ionescu struggled from the sphere. She was 4-of-17 general and missed all eight of her 3-point pictures, essentially the most missed 3s and not using 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 crew was 23-of-66 (34.8%) from the sphere 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 recreation.
“I feel there’s numerous expectation on me coming in and simply producing the numbers I did in faculty,” Ionescu stated. “However I positively suppose there’s going to be numerous down and numerous adversity I’ve to face in an effort to get there.
“I used to be simply completely happy to have the ability to see arguably the very best crew within the league in our first recreation and simply study from the defensive schemes that they threw at me and us as a crew, and proceed to construct from that. I am going to reside with 12, six and 4 and my first recreation in opposition to the very best crew. I am not used to taking eight 3s a recreation. I am used to having the ability to come down and have the ability to facilitate. Now I’ve to be extra of a scorer.”
The groups tipped off the primary recreation 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 residence on March 13. She is a spotlight of the WNBA’s social justice platform, and the gamers are sporting her identify on the again of their jerseys.
“I am actually pleased with this league and this crew and what they’re doing to amplify our voices,” Ionescu stated. “I am excited to see, hopefully, change being made.”
The Liberty, who’ve seven rookies led by Ionescu, had been capable of grasp 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 through the recreation.
“I do know on each single ball display screen, numerous consideration is on me and making an attempt to get the ball out of my arms,” she stated. “I am nonetheless studying, I am a rookie. I feel [it’s about] simply persevering with to place myself in uncomfortable positions in an effort to develop, and that is what I am doing.
“We are able to refine issues in each class, from protection to offense. I must care for the ball higher. However I feel we did some issues rather well; we gave them a recreation, particularly for the primary three quarters. Us predicted to complete final, and them first … we did not fold at the start as a result of they’re who they’re, so I feel there’s numerous positivity in that.”
Layshia Clarendon, the Liberty’s oldest participant at 29, led New York with 20 factors. Seattle coach Gary Kloppenburg stated the Storm emphasised trapping and pressuring Ionescu, who had 4 turnovers.
“We all know how good she is when you enable her to do what she desires popping out of screen-and-rolls,” he stated. “We actually needed to focus on her, power some turnovers. I feel we did a fairly good job for the primary recreation of doing that.”
Seattle’s Breanna Stewart and Sue Fowl made their returns to the WNBA after each missed final season; Stewart had a torn Achilles tendon and Fowl had knee surgical procedure. Stewart, the 2018 MVP, had a team-high 18 factors and eight rebounds, whereas Fowl, at age 39 and beginning her 17th WNBA season, had 11 factors and 5 assists.
The Storm gamers didn’t handle basketball in a postgame video convention name, saying they solely needed to speak about Taylor and the league’s social justice initiative.
“It looks as if on this battle for justice, ladies at occasions get ignored,” Fowl stated. “Till ‘Say Her Title’ happened, you did not actually hear about Breonna Taylor. As a ladies’s league, we have now an incredible alternative to convey consciousness, make clear this.”