The star smiles New York LibertyPostseason odds… WNBA stars, to be exact.
Betnijah Laney will return to the Liberty lineup as New York prepares for its final five games, starting Saturday night at Phoenix (10 p.m. ET, YES).
The Liberty (13-18) have five games left on their regular season schedule. First consecutive postseason appearance since 2015-17. They currently hold the seventh of the eight WNBA playoff seeds, one game behind Saturday’s opponent, the Mercury (13-19).
Laney’s return was heralded by a completely blank Liberty injury report, making Saturday’s visit to Arizona the team’s first game. Played with a full list. She will be in her first WNBA tournament starting May 17.
Lani, a Rutgers student, joined the Liberty in 2020 after receiving the WNBA’s Most Improved Player Award for her efforts in the Atlanta Dream. She averaged 16.8 points and a career-best 5.2 assists (both ranked in the WNBA’s top ten at the end of the year) in her first year on the beach. Lenny played a major role in the Liberty’s return to the postseason last year, leading the team to a win over New York in the 2021 WNBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas.
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The new free agent deal offers a form of stability for Laney, who has bounced around Chicago, Connecticut and Indiana since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2015. A right knee injury delayed the start of Laney’s 2022 campaign, and she played in four games. Games before undergoing an arthroscopic partial meniscectomy two weeks after her last visit. In those four games, Laney averaged 13.3 points and 4.3 assists before being sidelined for medical reasons.
Although absent from court, Laney remains an active presence on the Liberty bench.
“Without Bettiniah, we’ve lost the aggressiveness, the heart, the defensive mind,” teammate and 2022 Liberty All-Star Natasha Howard said in July of what the team will miss without Laney. “We’re going to miss everything she does for us, both offensively and defensively. We’re going to miss her voice on the floor.”
“She brings a level of leadership,” another New York teammate and WNBA Rookie of the Year Michaela Gaetare said in May. “She saw the floor, the game and held us accountable.”
New York has reentered the WNBA playoff race with wins in each of its last three, a run that began with an 89-69 win over Phoenix on Sunday at the Barclays Center.