Tulsa Shock

WNBA Opening Weekend Thoughts

May 22, 2012 12:05pm
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The 2012 season is officially underway as there were 7 games this weekend. This also means the Minnesota Lynx have started their road to repeat as WNBA Champions.

It all started Friday night in Key Arena, home to the Seattle Storm and one of the league’s best home courts. Here was a team, partly in transition, after they sent Cash and Willingham to Chicago for their 2nd pick in this year’s draft. A still veteran team though, that added all time leading scorer Tina Thompson and great Euroleague big Ann Wauters, Seattle was hoping to maintain their high expectations. Hosting the Los Angeles Sparks under new coach Carol Ross, LA was hoping to turn around their disappointing results in recent seasons. The Storm came out on fire, getting Wauters a ton of easy post touches. While TT drained her NBA range 3′s, the Sparks were settling for and missing a series of mid-range jumpers. As the game wore on it seemed the Sparks had enough to get back into the game, but were suddenly staring at a 21 point deficit late in the 3rd quarter. Lots of ball pressure from the Sparks led to some Seattle TOs and easy run-outs, a barrage of 3′s from Toliver and some key baskets from Parker sent LA on a massive run which tied up the game late in the 4th and continued through, to the final buzzer.

Saturday’s card had 4 games on tap. It started early as the New York Liberty hosted the Connecticut Sun at the MSG. The Liberty enjoyed an 8 point halftime lead, due in part to the time they spent at the free throw line. Despite still trailing by 7 entering the 4th quarter, the Sun scored 27 points in the final period, capitalizing on a fatigued Liberty team who couldn’t execute on offense or get the necessary stops on defense.  Read more »

Top 6 2012 Draft Class preseason update

May 15, 2012 12:35pm
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Pick 2012 WNBA DRAFT – ROUND 1
1 Los Angeles — Nnemkadi Ogwumike
2 Seattle — Shekinna Stricklen
3 Minnesota — Devereaux Peters
4 Tulsa — Glory Johnson
5 San Antonio — Shenise Johnson
6 Phoenix — Samantha Prahalis

A quick update on top 6 draft picks in this year’s 2012 WNBA draft and how they might factor into their respective teams this season.

1. Nnemkadi Ogwumike: The consensus top player on every team’s draft board moves down the California coast from Silicon Valley to Hollywood. Although WNBA training camps are brief, Candace Parker has already declared Ogwumike “one of the most athletic players I’ve played with or against in my entire career.” After the Sparks preseason game against Japan coach Carol Ross said, “Nneka is playing with a lot of energy and really uses her athleticism. She brings a real spark to the team.” This new Spark has now lead them in scoring in 2 of their 3 preseason games and logged the most game minutes. If she’s not starting by mid season I’d still imagine Ogwumike logging starters minutes and being on the floor in crunch time very early in the season.

2. Shekinna Stricklen: After missing the Storm’s first preseason game due to her commencement ceremony at the University of Tennesee, Stricklen came back to score a game high 15 points and play a game high 30 min in the Storm’s win over Los Angeles in their 2nd preseason game. While Stricklen won’t have the impact of Ogwumike, she will be expected to contribute right away with a very different Seattle roster this season. Don’t count out what playing for coach Brian Agler and with PG Sue Bird can do for a young player like Stricklen. Read more »

Amber Holt returns for Tulsa tonight

July 8, 2011 5:04pm
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Jessica Lantz with Swish Appeal is reporting that Amber Holt is dressed and in the starting line-up for the Tulsa Shock tonight. She was expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a broken thumb. Also, Ivory Latta is not in uniform tonight.

The expected starting line-up is:  G Doneeka Lewis, G Sheryl Swoopes, F Kayla Pedersen, F Tiffany Jackson, and F Amber Holt.

WNBA Friday: Links to get you ready for tonight’s game

July 8, 2011 3:03pm
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NEW YORK at SAN ANTONIO

The New York Liberty travel to San Antonio, to take on the Silver Stars in a re-match of New York’s 81-75 victory one week ago. This game will be shown on NBA TV.

Tracey Jucey, of Sports Page Magazine, talks about Essence Carson who has come into her own this season. “Carson is on pace for a breakout season as the Liberty’s most consistent player so far in 2011. Averaging only 3.6 points per game in 2010, her offensive production has more than quadrupled with 14.4 points per game to date.”

One of the many reason for the success of the Silver Stars this season has been the play of their bench. Carolyn Peck, at ESPN W, talks about some of the players who have contributed to San Antonio great start, including rookie Danielle Adams. “After following Adams in the NCAA tournament and watching her lead Texas A&M to a national championship, I have to admit she is a new face who has dramatically captured my attention.”

 

PHOENIX at TULSA

In the other match-up of the night, two teams heading opposite directions will meet for the 1st of their two games in 3 nights, as the Mercury travel to Tulsa to take on the Shock. This game can be seen on Live Access.

Odeen Domingo, of the Arizona Republic, discusses how the Mercury have turned it around after a slow start to the season. Diana Taurasi on the slow start: ”I think in the last few weeks, everyone settled in a little bit, felt a little more comfortable on the court, and knew what we needed from each other to get some wins. Now we just have to continue to work hard and see where it takes us.”

Meanwhile, Tulsa is hoping to turn things around tonight, and one key to a victory is the continued emergence of center Liz Cambage. Jessica Lantz from Swish Appeal talks about the Australian center who ranks in the league’s Top 20 in 24 statistical categories, but has struggled to find her shooting touch. “While her ability to make the bunnies might be a statistical category with room to grow, keep in mind that Cambage is 19 years old. 19. What were you doing when you were 19? Save a very limited few NBA ballers like LeBron James, this is a situation like none other particularly in the women’s game.”

At what point do the Tulsa Shock make a change?

July 7, 2011 12:23pm
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In a league with only 12 teams, it’s rare for teams to make the jump from cellar to contender in only a short amount of time because there is such a consolidation of talent. Aside from a situation in Minnesota where they missed a lot of players due to injury the past couple seasons and were able to draft Maya Moore with the number 1 overall pick, it is difficult to make that leap without a unique set of circumstances from year to year.

Fast forward to July 7th, and the Tulsa Shock are getting ready to host the Phoenix Mercury tomorrow. Tulsa is currently in last place, and hold the league’s worst point differential. They are coming off an embarrassing 30 point blowout by the aforementioned Lynx and now have to face, arguably the league’s hottest team (no pun intended) in the Mercury. As the oddmakers currently have it, Tulsa will be the biggest home underdog of the season. Is coach Richardson making the best of a bad situation? Would Tulsa even be better off making a mid-season change?

Kelly Hines of the Tulsa World, has explored some of the pressures facing coach Richardson as this point of the season. “This year, the Shock has been limited by inferior talent. As coach, Richardson may be getting as much out of the players as he can, but as general manager it’s up to him to find difference-makers. ”

Losing Amber Holt on a team lacking in guards was unfortunate, but I think Richardson has been getting a pass for being stubborn to his system. He obviously does not have the personnel to play the style he wants to play, yet insists on it. While I am not a basketball coach, nor would I advocate coming up with a new playbook in the middle of the season, Nolan’s “40 Minutes of Hell” seems difficult to buy into. Tulsa has the highest TO% (which accounts for turnovers on a per possession basis) in the league and I can only imagine what might happen in the up and down game Phoenix will bring to the BOK Center tomorrow night.

Jessica Lantz of Swish Appeal, touches on some positive changes the Shock have experienced, although sometimes you need to read between the lines of their double-digits losses. “The team is slowly figuring out how to use a 6-8 center down low by lobbing her the ball inside. And Cambage herself is adjusting to where she needs to play on the court in order to be effective against WNBA competition… And something that was sorely lacking to start the 2010 season – chemistry – is actually present in the locker room, despite the magnitude and ferocity of some of this year’s losses.”

While turning the team into a slow it down, half-court kind of team is easier said than done, I can’t help but think a complete emphasis on running everything through Cambage, the tallest player on the court in every game, will pay dividends. Slowing down the game should also combat some of their turnover issues, conserve an already short bench, and keep Tulsa fighting for that much longer in each game. Kayla Pedersen has also really impressed, and continues to get better each and every game. You could make as good of an argument for her as rookie of the year right now as any player in the league.

While maybe a coaching change is not going to make a difference at this point of the year, the role of GM for Richardson needs to be evaluated immediately. If he insists on playing his system, there needs be to be someone in the GM role finding the right players for his system. There are no easy fixes in this league, but go to from 2008 WNBA champion Detroit Shock to the Shock’s current state in Tulsa should not have been this “easy” either.

 

News Channel 8 in Oklahoma reporting Tulsa center Liz Cambage will not play tonight

June 14, 2011 1:16pm
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News Channel 8 in Oklahoma is reporting that 6’8″ Australian center Liz Cambage will not play tonight.

She suffered a concussion last game against Connecticut when she was inadvertently hit in the face by teammate Tiffany Jackson.

Tulsa’s Richardson has won everywhere he has coached

May 31, 2011 2:59pm
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For a coach used to winning, the Shock’s Nolan Richardson is looking to right the ship in his second season coaching in the WNBA.

Given the time, Richardson has won at every coaching spot he has made. Richardson built a national champion team at Western Junior College. Next he won the NIT with Tulsa in his 1st season as coach. Richardson is probably best known for his “40 minutes of hell” while at Arkansas where he went to 3 final fours and won the NCAA championship in 1994.

John Klein of the Tulsa World writes, “Tulsa still doesn’t have the type of talent it will take to challenge for the league title. However, the Shock is likely to be far more competitive and surprise a few folks this year.  If the young players, like Elizabeth Cambage, can become the stars hoped for, then Tulsa has a chance to be what Richardson dreams. Richardson knows basketball. He has a winning system and he’s adjusted to the women’s game.”

Weekend Preseason Recap

May 30, 2011 2:15pm
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Saturday, May 28th:

The Los Angeles Sparks defeated the Phoenix Mercury 83-72, in a preseason game played at The Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Sparks started the game well, leading 26-13 after the first quarter. “I’m very pleased with my team tonight” said Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom, “I thought the energy was there, the aggressiveness was there, and tonight told me a lot.”

This game concludes the Sparks preseason, as they open up at home Friday, against the Minnesota Lynx at Staples Center. Phoenix travels to Seattle to face the defending champions on June 4th.

Sunday, May 29th:

The Atlanta Dream defeated  Great Britain 82-51, in the Dream’s only preseason game played in Manchester, England and the WNBA’s first game in Europe.

From James Bowman at Swish Appeal, “Coco Miller got off to a hot start in the first quarter, scoring seven of the first nine points for Atlanta and scoring 11 total first-quarter points.  (She would finish with 10-for-12 shooting and score 21 points.)  The Dream went to a double-digit lead early in the first quarter and never looked back.”

In the 3rd preseason game of the weekend the Seattle Storm defeated the Tulsa Shock 76-71.

After missing the game against Los Angeles, both Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird returned to the starting lineup as Seattle raced out to a 24-6 1st quarter lead and 45-25 halftime lead.

2nd overall pick Liz Cambage let her emotions get the best of her.  ”I was so nervous,” she said. “The first quarter I was so sick and had to run back and get it out of my system. But even getting off the plane yesterday, I was just so nervous going into training.”

Some additional thoughts from Jayda Evans’s in-game thread can be found here.

Injury Report