Home News Liberty finalize roster ahead of season-opener against Washington Mystics

Liberty finalize roster ahead of season-opener against Washington Mystics

It’s official.

The Liberty announced the team waived guard Jaylyn Sherrod and this year’s second-round draft pick Esmery Martinez. The final roster cut puts the team’s total roster at 11 players — the same amount GM Jonathan Kolb and head coach Sandy Brondello decided to start with last season.

Monday’s final two roster transactions come two days after the team made its initial cuts. The roster ahead of Tuesday’s road season-opener against the Washington Mystics looks like this:

  • Guards: Courtney Vandersloot, Betnijah Laney-Hamilton, Sabrina Ionescu, Ivana Dojkić and Marquesha Davis
  • Forwards: Breanna Stewart, Kennedy Burke, Kayla Thornton and Leonie Fiebich
  • Centers: Jonquel Jones and Nyara Sabally

Sherrod’s departure from the Liberty comes after the undrafted rookie signed a training camp deal with the team last month. Sherrod — a speedy guard whose knack to defend awarded her three Pac-12 All-Defensive Team selections — immediately impressed the team in training camp. The former Colorado guard was the lone bright spot in the team’s embarrassing 101-53 preseason loss to the Chicago Sky last Tuesday. Her defense from college transitioned in the preseason opener as she checked in and quickly hounded guards and recorded two steals in 10 minutes of action. In that matchup, she made two shot attempts for four points.

“That’s just what I do. That’s who I am,” Sherrod said during media day about her speedy and aggressive play style. “[Those are] my strengths. Honestly, that’s what they brought me here for. I really do feel like I’m one of the fastest guards in the country with the ball in my hands.”

She then sealed the Liberty’s lone preseason win, a 82-79 victory against the Connecticut Sun on Thursday, with a steal and go-ahead fastbreak layup with 36.1 seconds remaining in regulation. And her two made free throws were the icing on the cake right before time expired. She ended that night with eight points, two assists, two rebounds and two steals in 14 minutes of action.

But her efforts during game action and on the practice court weren’t enough to make the final 11. The same could be said for Martinez.

The former Arizona forward was selected with the 17th overall pick in last month’s draft. The first Dominican-born WNBA player battled with the Liberty’s star forwards throughout training camp and received opportunities to make her mark in preseason action. She recorded four points, two steals and two assists in 15 minutes in the loss to Chicago. In the win against the Sun, she scored five points, grabbed three boards and recorded one steal in eight minutes.

At the end, the decision came down to the Liberty sticking with veteran depth as the team hopes to return to the WNBA Finals. This year’s first-round pick, Marquesha Davis, and German star Leonie Fiebich, who was selected in the 2020 draft by the Los Angeles Sparks before heading overseas, are the lone rookies to make the final 11. Fiebich has yet to log a regular-season WNBA game in her career.

Along with Fiebich, veterans Ivana Dojkić and Kennedy Burke are among the final 11. The three veterans will play key roles on the Liberty’s re-vamped bench unit. Previously, Kolb touted Burke’s “underrated” ability to switch on defenders and said Fiebich, a forward, is a player the team “can slide all the way to the two [guard position] if you want to.”

Kolb mentioned the 5-11 Dojkić is “a long guard that competes” on the defensive end. The team hopes the second unit will boster a star-studded starting lineup that played a huge role in the Liberty finishing second in offensive rating and third in defensive rating last season.

“So yeah, I think it’s something where we’re not going to really have a drop off when we go to that bench,” Kolb said during media day. “It’s something where we could actually potentially leverage.”


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