New York Liberty Film Room: Betnijah Laney's Fit In New York
New York Liberty Film Room: Betnijah Laney's Fit In New York

Welcome, Betnijah Laney! 3 Reasons Liberty Fans Should Be Excited

With Betnijah Laney officially on her way to New York, we have three reasons why those who wear seafoam should be excited.

The MIP is headed to NYC. The New York Liberty confirmed the signing of Betnijah Laney on Tuesday, welcoming in the former member of the Atlanta Dream on a multi-year deal. Laney, 27, will appear on her fifth. WNBA roster after tenures with Chicago, Connecticut, and Indiana. She is the defending winner of the league’s Most Improved Player Award, whose prior honorees include Janeth Arcain, Jonquel Jones, and Natasha Howard.

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“We are beyond excited to welcome Betnijah to the New York Liberty,” said Liberty General Manager, Jonathan Kolb.  “As a player, Betnijah represents everything it takes to wear the seafoam and black, from her resilience, to her dedication, to her never quit attitude. As a person, she is someone New Yorkers will fully embrace as she is as committed to making an impact in the community as she is on court.”

NetsRepublic has three reasons why New Yorkers should be excited about her arrival…

(Scarlet) Knight in Shining Armor

Betnijah Laney is no stranger to hoops heroics in the tri-state area, as she previously partook in four seasons with the renowned Rutgers Scarlet Knights program in Piscataway, NJ. She was an active participant in several historic efforts, including a jaw-dropping 24-rebound performance during a December 2014 tilt against No. 6 North Carolina, setting a single-game record for boards at the Rutgers Athletic Center. The previous holder was former Liberty star Sue Wicks. Laney was also in the starting lineup for the Knights’ triumph in the 2014 WNIT championship game against UTEP and later earned a double-double in the Knights’ NCAA Tournament win over in-state rival Seton Hall in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

Clear History

Betnijah Laney has some history with the Liberty and their current veteran participants, so it’s encouraging to see that she can show up in a metropolitan basketball setting. The July 31 tilt between New York and Atlanta is perhaps best known for Sabrina Ionescu’s season-ending injury, but it also served as Laney’s notice that she was going to be a problem in the Bradenton bubble. She sank a career-best 30 points in the Dream’s 84-78 victory on 11-of-18 shooting, while also putting up eight rebounds. Laney would break that mark under a month later in an August tilt against Washington. She has also previously worked with New York veteran Layshia Clarendon during the Connecticut Sun’s 2018 endeavors.

Living the Dream

If anyone of the Liberty’s youngsters needs a lesson in motivation, they can look no further than Betnijah Laney. By all accounts, her professional career probably should’ve ended by now. She endured an ACL injury during her second season with the Sky and was part of Indiana’s final cuts shortly before the bubble was inflated. Nowadays, she was one of the most talked-about names in the league’s free agency conversation.

As the Liberty intend to stock up for the next generation, one presumably headlined by the talented youth of Ionescu, Kia Nurse, and Jazmine Jones, Laney is joining the fray at just the right time. Second-round picks often aren’t long for the WNBA world, but Laney has annihilated that concept. The Clayton, Delaware native’s hard work and perseverance paid off last season to the tune of 17.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.0 assists last season, shattering her career-highs. Perhaps we should’ve seen it coming: Laney was named the Defensive Player of the Year in during the 2018-19 WNBL campaign in Australia.

“She serves as a beacon of hope to all our players,” longtime Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer told Brian Fonseca of NJ Advance Media back in November. “For those that aspire to go to the next level, we get the ones that’ve made it to give them perspective on life and where they need to be. We hope to have Betnijah comes soon and talk to our kids because it’s a beautiful thing.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags