By Luis Vazquez
This was a no-brainer. The New York Liberty re-signed two of their restricted free agents today. Sugar Rodgers and Rebecca Allen are back in the fold after making positive impacts in 2016.
Sugar Rodgers, who was a fixture at the shooting guard position as a starter last season was the most improved player in the WNBA by far. Rodgers proved last year what dividends can be accrued by working endlessly on your game.
Sugar developed her jumper into a finely-honed weapon. The results were a Liberty historical best 86 three-point baskets and second in the WNBA overall. Liberty Head Coach Bill Laimbeer was quick with the praise, something he rarely does with young players.
“We are thrilled to have Sugar sign back up with the Liberty,” Laimbeer said, “The amount of extra work Sugar has put in towards improving her game cannot be overstated, and led directly to her breakout season last year.”
Indeed it was as Rodgers averaged 14.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists plus a steal a game in 2016. Sugar became the second scoring option recording seven 20-point efforts including a memorable 30 point game against Minnesota where she tied the franchise record with seven threes. Her ability as a shut-down defender cannot be quantified.
This also applies to Aussie Rebecca Allen, who bounced back from a knee injury in her first season to return mid-year in 2016 to become an important piece off the bench as a valuable reserve forward . “
I’m looking forward to finally having Allen with us for a whole season,” said Laimbeer, “Last year she showed flashes of what she is capable of, and has demonstrated the ability to be a consistent contributor in this league.”
Rebecca was all those things and more. She showed off a silky jumper, especially from the three line where she often lurked around burning teams to the tune of a .567 percentage from that range. Allen averaged 5.7 points a game with limited playing time while scoring in double digits five times.
The Liberty also signed 2016 third-round pick guard Shacobia Barbee and free agent forward Cierra Burdick to training camp contracts. The Liberty 2017 campaign begins Saturday, May 13th against the San Antonio Stars.
Comment: Luis Vazquez on Facebook at facebook.com/luis.armando.50