Betnijah Laney: Liberty's X-Factor
On a roster loaded with superstars, Betnijah Laney remains the glue of the finals-bound New York Liberty.
The Liberty, who haven’t been in the WNBA Finals since 2002, had an active offseason gathering superstar players that would help propel them to their first championship. They brought in former MVP Jonquel Jones, two-time Finals MVP Breanna Stewart, and 2021 champion Courtney Vandersloot to join former Oregon standout Sabrina Ionescu. Despite the assembly of this so-called “superteam,” one player has remained a consistent force for the team since joining in 2021: Betnijah Laney.
“I’ve loved her growth and commitment to this team…[she] continues to get better individually with the work that she puts in,” said head coach Sandy Brondello.
Laney’s ability to contribute on both ends of the court is invaluable. She plays gritty defense while being productive offensively, making her one of the best two-way players in the league.
“Whether it's guarding the other team’s best player, or making plays, she is someone who knows what she is good at,” said Breanna Stewart.
Though she put up solid stats through the regular season averaging 12.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.4 assists, Laney turned up the heat once the postseason rolled around. She increased her scoring to 17 points per game (second best on the Liberty), along with increasing her rebounds (5.2) and assists (3). She is also one of the most efficient players this postseason, leading the Liberty with a 43.8 three-point percentage and coming second in field goal percentage with 48.2%.
New York’s only postseason loss came in game one of the semi-finals when Laney was held to just three points. She responded with three consecutive 20+ point games to help the Liberty advance and was all smiles after reaching her first-ever finals appearance.
“I’m so happy right now,” she said. “It’s amazing, especially knowing where we came from when I first got here. I’m so proud of us.”
Despite her joy, she knows the job’s not done.
“I gotta keep it to where I can just enjoy this moment, but then the work starts,” she said. We’re not content, you know, we’re not satisfied with everything.”
Her performance will be crucial in turning her dream of a championship into reality, and as Sandy Brondello said, she’s built for it.