Home News Liberty HC Sandy Brondello talks Caitlin Clark’s transition to WNBA and more

Liberty HC Sandy Brondello talks Caitlin Clark’s transition to WNBA and more



The Liberty’s second game of the season serves as the team’s first look at No. 1 overall pick Caitlin Clark. Sandy Brondello and her team entered Gainbridge Fieldhouse 1-0 and with intentions of continuing the good start to the 2024 season. But the head coach offered her thoughts on the 22-year-old star that has been thrown into the WNBA spotlight.

“Look, I think Caitlin is an amazing player. She’s going to have a really, really great career,” Brondello said before Tuesday’s matchup against the Indiana Fever. “College is different from the pros. That’s the biggest adjustment. She got the skills but how do you play learning. Learning all the new opponents, the physicality of the league — I think that. Everyone’s an athlete here. Everyone’s skilled. It’s the WNBA. So you’re not gonna have any letdown there.

“I think she’s mentally tough. She’s got obviously a great future ahead of her. My advice [would be] just focus on what you can control and don’t get too high or two low because it’s gonna be a journey of highs and lows. And that’s for every athlete, not just Caitlin.”

Not getting “too low” is perfect advice for a rebuilding Fever team tasked with facing nine teams that made last year’s postseason in its first 13 matchups in 2024. The Fever will also be playing the new-look Seattle Storm — who didn’t make the postseason in 2023 — twice, which makes the early schedule even tougher.

And Clark herself got a reality check in the season-opener against the Connecticut Sun Tuesday. The Sun’s stout defense forced the rookie to record 10 turnovers and miss 10 of her 15 field goal attempts (20 points) in the 21-point blowout loss.

With upcoming matchups down the road, including Commissioner’s Cup Games, Brondello hopes to have that same kind of success when dealing with Clark on the perimeter. The head coach even mentioned the possibility of her replicating some schemes that worked for the Sun against the young star.

“They showed the physicality with what you need,” Brondello said about Connecticut’s defense on Clark. “I think their scheming was right on point. We’re gonna steal off of each other. If something works, we’re probably gonna take it and try it.”

DEMANDS OF WNBA GAURDS

Brondello’s last WNBA season came in 2003 as a member of the Storm. The Detroit Shock drafted her in 34th overall in 1998, more than two decades before Clark’s No. 1 overall selection. Plenty of changes to the league have been made from today’s game compared to the era Brondello played in, including player wellness, schedules, style of play, etc.

In Brondello’s playing days, she played no more than 34 regular-season games and the now newly-implemented charter flights weren’t even a thought. The requirements of today’s guards are also more demanding, with successful teams deploying point guards that can shoot perimeter shots, create opportunities for teammates and push pace while having to slow down opposing stars on the other end.

Brondello acknowledged that those changes make the demand for Clark — and other young guards — way tougher than those that suited up in previous eras.

“I think it depends on the program that you got through,” she said. “How we want to play the game but I think — Caitlin — [the] system [is] probably going to be built around her so that’s adding a lot. Probably more demand on her especially in a 40-game [season]. She played a lot of games in college but this is a different level and every game is going to be tough.

“Now obviously we have charters so that’s going to help with recovery. Game one, she had a tough night but you have to have short memory, don’t you? That’s the beauty of this league. You just got to get to that next moment.

We’re positionless. Depends on who’s around you, but I think she has to play a big role facilitating, playmaking, scoring. She has the ability there but in the end it’s about the team. It’s not just about Caitlin. I think she’s got some good quality players around her. They’re still a young team and they’re going to keep getting better and better.”

LIBS’ BENCH UNIT

Brondello used a total of 10 players in Tuesday’s road season-opening win against the Washington Mystics. Each member of the reserve unit logged at least eight minutes, except for lockdown defender Kayla Thornton. Rookie Marquesha Davis was the lone Liberty player that didn’t play Tuesday.

Brondello doesn’t plan to constantly go that deep into her reserve unit the whole season, but likes the depth she currently has.

I’d like to play all 11 to be quite honest, but realistically that’s tough,” she said. “Probably 10 was a little bit too much. But I wanted to give them all an opportunity because they’ve all had great moments for us. So I think it’ll change from game to game. We’ll go with what’s working at that time. That’s gonna be an advantage for us as we move forward in this really compact season. Good players, we’ve only had them for a hot minute. They’ve only been in a few practices and not much time together. But I’m excited about how it works, how deep I go.

“Can I get to 10? That’ll be great but we’ll go by how the game’s going.”

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