Ford posts 7 points, 2 rebounds in '09 debut

Rough Start for Rick

The Rick Mahorn era began much the way Bill Laimbeer’s ended - with the Shock struggling to hold onto the ball and put it in the basket when they did.

The Shock shot 29.5 percent from the floor (18-of-61) and committed 21 turnovers as they lost to the Fever, 66-54, in Mahorn’s debut as head coach.

“We turned the ball over. A lot of unforced turnovers and I think that’s due to the break that we had,” said Mahorn, referring to the eight-day layoff since the Laimbeer-led Shock hosted the Mystics June 10. “You can’t get your timing right. Cheryl Ford coming in now, [we’re] trying to get some execution. We play them on Sunday and hopefully we can get it together.”

The Shock led 27-25 at halftime before Indiana opened the second half on a 10-0 run. Fever forward Katie Douglas, who had four points at the break, hit a 3-pointer and two free throws in the first minute of the third. She had nine of her 14 in the quarter.

“They executed well, especially in the third quarter,” Mahorn said of the Fever. “That didn’t help us out too much." The Shock also didn’t help their own cause, shooting 3-for-16 with seven turnovers in the third.

“It was one of those nights to where we relied on our defense to keep us in the game,” said Deanna Nolan, who led the Shock with 13 points on 5-of-18 shooting. “It did most of the first half, it helped us a lot to stay in the game. But then the turnovers, missing wide-open shots or easy shots or easy lay-ups that we usually make weren’t falling tonight.”

Ford: Fatigued & Frustrated

by Lauren Harper

After not playing for almost a year, Cheryl Ford couldn’t wait to play at an All-Star level once again. But she’ll have to wait a little longer after notching seven points and two rebounds in Friday’s loss to the Fever.

“I just got frustrated with myself because I couldn’t catch the ball, but it happens. I haven’t played in 10 months,” Ford said. “I just got to get my timing back.”

The Palace crowd roared appreciatively when the All-Star forward was announced during pregame introductions. After a jittery start, she got better as the game went on, ultimately playing 20 minutes. “The first five minutes were a little rough with the lungs, but other than that, I was fine,” she said. Head coach Rick Mahorn was even more pleased.

“I thought she was great,” he said. “Her presence brings a lot for our ball club, especially on the boards. You’ve always got to be aware that she’s under the paint and teams have to play [like] she’s going to be in there getting second-chance opportunities or keeping that ball alive.”

Mahorn acknowledged Ford would be fatigued easily, but she has plenty of time to get in shape with 30 games left in the regular season. “An athlete of her caliber wants to be the person she was when she left,” he said. “She’s going to have to build on that.”

While all five Indiana starters scored in double figures, led by Tamika Catchings’s 15 points, Detroit had three starters with one field goal each. Katie Smith, Taj McWilliams and Shavonte Zellous were a combined 3-for-16.

The Shock receieved a solid bench effort from sophomores Olayinka Sanni and Alexis Hornbuckle. Sanni was the only Detroit player besides Nolan in double figures with 11 points and seven rebounds, and Hornbuckle snapped a 2-for-12 shooting slump to open the season by making three of her first six shots. She finished with nine points and 10 rebounds. McWilliams also grabbed 10 boards.

This was the second straight game with 21 turnovers by the Shock, both losses at home. The miscues Friday night led to 22 points for the Fever, who enjoyed just their third win at The Palace in 12 chances since 2006.

“We had 21 turnovers. You can’t win with 21 turnovers,” Ford said. “We did OK on the boards today - just turnovers. 21.”

Mahorn said he liked the fact the Shock would have a quick turnaround, facing the Fever again on Sunday in Indianapolis. The Shock have faced this situation already once this season, rebounding from a 20-point loss at Los Angeles in the season opener to defeat the Sparks two nights later by 29.

Though the debut did not end well, Mahorn is eager to go about the work of preparing for the rematch.

“It’s mixed emotions,” he said of assuming the head coaching role. “Bill has a great legacy here and it’s some big shoes to fill but I think if your team gets out there and competes like the way we know we can and plays Shock basketball, I’ll be OK sitting in that chair.”

AfterShocks: With Ford activated, the Shock had to release center Kelly Schumacher, who had been added to the roster last week when the Shock had only eight healthy players. Nine is the league minimum.