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New York Liberty’s season dealt early blow with Jocelyn Willoughby injury


The New York Liberty received a dose of bad news just over a week before their season opener.

Second-year guard/forward Jocelyn Willoughby tore her left Achilles tendon during a team scrimmage against the Connecticut Sun this week, the team announced Wednesday. She has since undergone successful surgery but will miss the 2021 season while she recovers.

As a rookie, Willoughby made an understated but notable impact in the “Wubble,” averaging 5.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per game and shooting a team-best 40.5 percent from the 3-point line. Her season-ending injury is a blow for a team that is in a critical year of its turnaround that hasn’t won more than 10 games in a season or made the playoffs since 2017.

Additionally, 2020 No. 1 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu continues to work her way back to full strength after suffering a severe ankle sprain in just her third WNBA game last year. Asia Durr, New York’s second overall draft pick in 2019, is also not expected to join the team this season as she recovers from lingering COVID-19 symptoms.

The Liberty have one of the youngest rosters in the WNBA and the youngest head coach in Walt Hopkins, the 36-year-old entering his second year at the helm. But expectations are high as they get set to play their first season in Barclays Center, and how Hopkins navigates the challenges will determine the franchise’s success.