Liberty

The Crystal Dangerfield Effect

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After a surprise preseason release from the Minnesota Lynx, followed by brief three game stint with the Indiana Fever, former league Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield was out of a job, looking to find a new home.

Then, late last month coach Sandy Brondello and the New York Liberty came calling, signing her to a hardship contract. Since then, the former UConn star has made the most of her opportunity, becoming a spark plug for the Libs and helping them turn their season around. She has helped lift a struggling offense while providing instant impact in every area of the game.

FLOOR GENERAL

Since joining the team, Dangerfield has played her way into the starting point guard role, and while her averages of 3.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists may not jump off the page, her impact on the offense runs deeper than just the stats.

Prior to Dangerfield’s arrival, the New York offense often times looked slow and out of sync, while turning it over more than any team in the W. In the seven games she has played with the Libs, Dangerfield is averaging a league-best 4.0 assist/turnover ratio, just ahead of Seattle’s Sue Bird at 3.38

She has struck a nice balance of keeping turnover numbers low, while also playing faster with more pace, something we expected to see from the start in coach Brondello’s offense. She brings a calm, cool and collected presence to the point guard position, and since her insertion as a starter, New York has won three of their last four games.

SOARING SABRINA

Perhaps no player has benefited more from Dangerfield’s arrival than Sabrina Ionescu. To begin the season, the former Oregon star was the only point guard and primary ball handler on the roster. As a result, all of the pressure was on her to find her teammates as well as get her own points.

Due to that, Ionescu came up small on the stat sheet in many of the Libs early season losses. Since Dangerfield was inserted at the point, Ionescu has moved over to shooting guard, and she has been able to display her scoring prowess that we were all waiting to see, averaging 26 points over the last four games.

Playing off the ball has allowed her to attack the basket more and get to the free throw line with some regularity. This change up mirrors Ionescu’s senior season at Oregon in 2019-20. Minyon Moore primarily played the lead guard spot for the Ducks and Ionescu had her most efficient season at the collegiate level, shooting a staggering 51.8 percent from the floor.

While Dangerfield and Ionescu are on the floor together, New York has proven to play better. In 119 minutes sharing the court, the Liberty have an offensive rating of 110.05, a defensive rating of 103.70 and 6.34 net rating, according to PBP Stats.

THE ROAD AHEAD

On Wednesday afternoon the Liberty made a flurry of roster moves. They traded AD Durr to the Atlanta Dream for Megan Walker and Raquel Carrera. That was followed by the news that Dangerfield was released from her hardship contract.

On Thursday, the team announced that upon being granted a new hardship exemption by the league, the team has re-signed Dangerfield to a second hardship contract. In addition, the team has signed Marine Johannes to a rest-of-season contract. She returns to the Liberty after finishing her season in France.

With Crystal back in Liberty seafoam green, look for many more must-see, exciting moments with the team as the season wears on.

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About Hamilton Neill

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