2013 WNBA Season Previews: Tulsa Shock

 

PG: Skylar Diggins/Angel Goodrich

SG: Candice Wiggins/Riquna Williams

SF: Nicole Powell/Roneeka Hodges/Jennifer Lacy

PF: Glory Johnson/Tiffany Jackson-Jones/Kayla Pedersen

C: Elizabeth Cambage

 

Significant gains: Skylar Diggins, Elizabeth Cambage, Candice Wiggins, Tiffany Jackson-Jones, Nicole Powell.

Significant losses: Ivory Latta, Temeka Johnson (plus Amber Holt got cut).

 

Last year was a season of small but vital steps for the Tulsa Shock. They may have finished just 9-25, but that equalled their win total from the previous two years combined, and they pulled themselves off the bottom of the Western Conference (albeit assisted in that step by Phoenix’s capitulation). Nolan Richardson was long gone, and with Gary Kloppenburg taking over the team finally had some structure and a sense that they knew what they were doing. There were still bumps in the road, and the talent on the roster didn’t quite match up to most of the other teams, but they were finally headed in the right direction. After an offseason that’s produced a collection of new options, including a headlining rookie, their first meaningful free agent addition and a player they thought had quit on them yet again, they’re primed for another step. The question is how far are they ready to jump?

 

The Shock’s two leading scorers from last season – also their top two in assists – are both gone. And yet despite losing Ivory Latta and Temeka Johnson for nothing, Tulsa are probably happier about their backcourt situation than they’ve ever been before. Finishing third in the lottery meant disappointment at missing out on Brittney Griner, but it resulted in Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, who may be just what they needed. She’s a high-profile young woman, revels in the spotlight, and she’ll do everything she can to make people take notice of this franchise. She’s also a pretty darn good point guard, who can score herself and run a team. She may need a little time – it’s rare for anyone to be handed the keys to a pro team as a rookie and be an immediate success – but she should get there. At the very least, she’ll make sure more people know the Shock exist. Alongside her will be Candice Wiggins, technically acquired in a trade from Minnesota (it was essentially a free agent addition, consummated via trade). It’s going to be interesting to see what Wiggins is still capable of. In her first two years as a pro she was a fearless driver, getting to the rim and the free throw line with regularity. Then she suffered a torn meniscus in her knee and a ruptured achilles in quick succession. When she returned she was a completely different player, barely driving at all, and firing the vast majority of her shots from behind the three-point arc. It’s hard to know for sure whether that was purely because Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve asked her to become an outside threat, or if Wiggins simply doesn’t have that driving capacity any more. If she can rediscover that aspect of her game and vary it up more, she becomes a major weapon; if she’s just the backup guard we saw the last two years in Minnesota, she’s far less dangerous.

 

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2012 In-Depth WNBA Season Preview: Tulsa Shock

PG: Temeka Johnson/Ivory Latta

SG: Riquna Williams/Jene Morris

SF: Scholanda Dorrell/Karima Christmas

PF: Kayla Pedersen/Glory Johnson/Jennifer Lacy

C: Chante Black/Lynetta Kizer/(Elizabeth Cambage)

Significant additions: Gary Kloppenburg (new head coach, former Indiana assistant), Johnson (trade with Phoenix), Robinson (free agency from San Antonio), Johnson (college draft), Williams (college draft), Morris (free agency after being out of the league), Black (missed last season through injury), Kizer (college draft).

Significant losses: Tiffany Jackson (pregnant, will miss entire season), Elizabeth Cambage (training with Australian National Team and will miss first half of season), Sheryl Swoopes (free agent, unsigned), Amber Holt (cut), Andrea Riley (trade with Phoenix)

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At least now we can give the Shock fans some hope. There’s some light at the end of the tunnel. A hint of spring peeking its head up from the end of a long, cold winter. Because Nolan Richardson is no longer in charge, and the Shock hierarchy finally went out and found someone with a history in the WNBA who just might know what he’s doing. A long-time WNBA assistant coach, most recently for several years in Indiana, Gary Kloppenburg takes the reins and can begin the long road back to contention for this franchise. No one’s saying this team are going to be good, not yet. In fact, player for player this roster might even be worse than last year. But you have to start somewhere, and you have to start heading in the right direction. The Shock look like they might finally be doing that. Continue reading

WNBA Offseason Overview/Preseason Preview: Tulsa Shock

Current roster certainties or virtual certainties:

PG: Temeka Johnson/Ivory Latta

SG: Scholanda Robinson

SF: Kayla Pedersen

PF: Glory Johnson

C: (Elizabeth Cambage)

Fighting for so many freaking spots it’s not even funny: (in alphabetical order) Vicki Baugh, Chante Black, Karima Christmas, Shanna Crossley, Amber Holt, Lynetta Kizer, Jennifer Lacy, Jene Morris, Riquna Williams.

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Well here’s the bright side – the Shock finally hired a coach who might know what he’s doing. Respected Indiana Fever assistant Gary Kloppenburg takes over, and all you can say is good luck Klopp. The first move he made was positive, sending loose cannon Andrea Riley (who could easily have been cut anyway) to Phoenix for veteran point guard Temeka Johnson. Any upgrade in talent is a good thing when you’re as bad as this Tulsa team was last year.

Unfortunately, a lot of things haven’t gone Klopp’s way early in his tenure. Continue reading

WNBAlien 2011 Previews: Tulsa Shock

PG: Ivory Latta/Andrea Riley

SG: Amber Holt, it looks like/Marion Jones

SF: Kayla Pedersen/Sheryl Swoopes/Chastity Reed

PF: Tiffany Jackson/Jen Lacy

C: Elizabeth Cambage/Miranda Ayim

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Head Coach: Nolan Richardson

Significant additions: Cambage, Pedersen, Swoopes (at the box office, they hope)

Significant losses: Hard for much to be too significant given how bad they were last year, but they gave away Scholanda Robinson for nothing, Chante Black and Shanna Crossley are both out hurt, and Nicole Ohlde walked (and retired, possibly in disgust).

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Aw come on, it’s the last one, can’t I just say “they’re horrible” and leave it at that? You want more? Really? Fine. They’re really, really horrible. Despite two high draft picks and a year to mess with the roster at will, Nolan Richardson’s opening day squad in 2011 is probably worse than it was 12 months earlier. Continue reading