Liberty set to lose Prince for a few weeks
NEW YORK (AP) The New York Liberty's thin backcourt is about to get even more sparse.
The Liberty are already missing Brittany Boyd for the season after she injured her left Achilles tendon in a game. They will be even more depleted after Tuesday night's game against Los Angeles when Epiphanny Prince heads for Russia to play in the EuroBasket tournament for the next few weeks. That leaves Bria Hartley as the only true point guard left.
''People will have to step up,'' New York coach Bill Laimbeer said after practice Monday. ''We'll have to look at (Shavonte) Zellous playing some (guard). It will be a mix and match every night depending on who we're playing.''
New York does have some help on the way.
The Liberty brought back Lindsay Allen. She was at the practice facility on Monday, watching New York run through plays and drills. She was the last cut in training camp, and the former Notre Dame point guard will sign with the team after Prince and Kia Vaughn leave for Europe.
''We'll activate her Wednesday when we suspend players,'' Laimbeer said.
Before the season even started, New York was down a guard as Tanisha Wright decided to sit out the season to rest.
''I asked Tanisha Wright if she wanted to be a 26-day player, she said no,'' Laimbeer said laughing.
This was the second time that Prince has left the Liberty to play for Russia. The tournament will help determine who plays in the women's basketball World Cup in 2018. She missed the start of the 2015 season to try and help Russia qualify for the Rio Olympics. The Brooklyn native became a Russian naturalized citizen in 2010.
''I think it's tough for this year because I got to start the season and now have to leave in the middle of it,'' Prince said. ''The previous year I was able to leave before training camp and didn't get my feet wet. It's tougher to leave in the middle of it.''
Prince feels torn as she has an obligation to both the Liberty and the Russian team. By getting naturalized, she was able to earn a lot more money playing in the Russian League.
''I'm excited to fulfill my obligation, but I feel that I have an obligation to two teams,'' she said
New York also loses Vaughn, who is playing for the Czech Republic in the tournament that runs from June 16-25.
The Liberty aren't the only team losing players to the EuroBasket. Washington's Emma Meesseman (Belgium), Connecticut's Alex Bentley (Belarus), Minnesota's Anna Cruz (Spain) and Chicago's Courtney Vandersloot (Hungary) are a few others who will miss WNBA games.
''Obviously, for me, it's a great honor to have the opportunity to play for a national team and be competing to qualify and play in the Olympics,'' Bentley said. ''The United States team is so stacked and we have so many great Olympians who are still playing and taking up those roster spots, so this represented another opportunity to get to that level and compete on the world stage. I am incredibly grateful to Curt (Miller) and the organization for allowing me to have this chance.''
One thing that the players shouldn't need to worry about is being fined by their WNBA teams. Last season, the WNBA and players' union amended the CBA so that players will no longer be fined for missing time for overseas national team commitments if they notify their WNBA teams in advance.
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