The star is smiling at the playoff fortunes of the New York Liberty … a WNBA All-Star, to be precise.
Betnijah Laney will return to the Liberty roster as New York prepares for its final five games, starting Saturday night in Phoenix (10 p.m. ET, YES).
The Liberty (13-18) have five games left on their regular-season schedule as they look to make back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 2015-17. They currently hold the seventh of eight WNBA playoff seeds, with Saturday’s opponent the Mercury (13-19) one game behind.
Laney’s return was heralded by a completely void Liberty injury report, which will make Saturday’s visit to Arizona the first game the team has played with a full roster. She will be entering her first WNBA contest since May 17.
Alumna of Rutgers, Laney joined the Liberty last season after winning the WNBA’s Most Improved Player award for her efforts with the 2020 Atlanta Dream. She followed that up with an average of 16.8 points and a career-best 5.2 assists (both appearing in the WNBA top ten at the end of the year) in his first year as Seafoam. Laney played a major role in Liberty’s comeback in playoffs last year, leading the team to score and represent New York at the 2021 WNBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas.
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The new Liberty contract offered some form of stability for Laney, who moved through Chicago, Connecticut and Indiana after entering the league as a second-round pick in 2015. A right knee injury delayed the start of Laney’s 2022 campaign and she appeared in four games before undergoing an arthroscopic partial meniscectomy nearly two weeks after her last appearance. In those four games, Laney averaged 13.3 points and 4.3 assists before his medically induced departure.
Despite his absence from the field, Laney remained an active prescience on the Liberty bench,
“Without Betnijah, we lack the aggression, the heart, a defensive spirit,” teammate and 2022 Liberty All-Star Natasha Howard said in July of what the team loses in Laney’s absence. “We pretty much miss everything, overall, that she does for us in attack and defence. We miss her voice on the pitch as well.”
“She brings a level of leadership,” Michaela Onyenwere, another New York teammate and the WNBA’s newest Rookie of the Year, said in May. “She sees the ground, the game and holds us accountable.”
New York has re-entered the WNBA playoff pursuit with wins in each of its last three, a streak that began with an 89-69 win over Phoenix on Sunday at Barclays Center.