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WNBA: Liberty relaunch Sabrina Ionescu era against Fever

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A second opportunity for the Sabrina Ionescu era to arrive starts Friday night when the New York Liberty open the WNBA season by hosting the Indiana Fever.

Ionescu’s highly anticipated rookie season ended in her third game when she sustained a season-ending ankle injury.

Now the former Oregon star and No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft is hoping to lift the fortunes of a franchise that went 2-20 last season. The 5-foot-11 guard also is focused on establishing herself as a WNBA player.

“Although I didn’t have that many (games) under my belt last year, I think just having one helps a lot knowing what to expect coming into this season,” Ionescu said during the team’s virtual media day. “Obviously, I haven’t played against a lot of teams, so it’s the first time I’ll be matched up with them and they’ll be matched up with me.

“I’m just excited to start a new season and a new chapter for this organization and get rolling.”

Ionescu averaged 18.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists prior to the injury. She displayed her promise by scoring 33 points in her second WNBA game prior to being injured in the second quarter of the following contest.

The Liberty have experienced three straight losing campaigns as they open against the Fever, a team with four consecutive losing seasons.

Indiana (6-16 in 2020) is hoping to receive a boost from rookie guard Kysre Gondrezick, the fourth overall pick in the 2021 draft out of West Virginia.

Gondrezick has received attention for making it clear her appearance on the court matters — in how she looks.

“For me it was really important to kind of change the landscape of women’s basketball,” Gondrezick said recently. “… I’ve always been taught that just because you may play like a boy, doesn’t mean that you have to look like one. I think it’s so important for us women in our femininity, to be able to compete at a high level in which we do, but being able to brand ourselves off the court as well.”

Indiana’s leading returning scorer is guard Kelsey Mitchell at 17.9 points per game.

New York guard Asia Durr will miss her second straight season due to complications stemming from her battle with COVID-19.

–Field Level Media

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