The Shock's preseason slate begins Friday in Chicago

Ready or Not

Kristin Haynie, Deanna Nolan, Plenette Pierson, Cheryl Ford and Taj McWilliams-Franklin would make a pretty formidable starting lineup.

Unfortunately, the quintet will instead constitute the Detroit Shock’s injured list heading into their first preseason game Friday at Chicago. The four returning veterans had preexisting injuries entering training camp and will not play; the newcomer, Haynie, strained her quadriceps during the first week of workouts. She is questionable, said Shock general manager and head coach Bill Laimbeer.

With 15 players in camp, Laimbeer still has 10 able bodies eager to make their case for inclusion on the final 11-player roster.

“I’d rather play starters and get them some game experience as quick as possible,” he said. “But on the other hand you get to see what the youngsters can do, what they’ve learned in practice - can they do it in a game? - and you can evaluate them a little bit better.”

Of the 10 players, there are a lot of unknowns - starting with four rookies, including draft picks Shavonte Zellous, Britney Miller and Tanae Davis-Cain. “We’re very happy with Zellous, we think she’s a great scorer. She seems very confident,” Laimbeer said of his first-round pick. “Britney Miller and Tanae are making progress in camp. From where they started [Sunday] to where they are today is a vast improvement.”

This also will be the first time in a Shock uniform for a pair of veterans, Kristen Rasmussen and Sequoia Holmes. The 6-foot-4 Rasmussen, a nine-year forward/center from Michigan State who spent last season with the Lynx, is in fierce competition to crack Detroit’s elite frontcourt corps. The 6-foot-1 Holmes averaged 3.1 points in 17 games as a rookie with Houston, yet garners attention as the only true small forward on the Shock roster.

The Sky have several new faces too, including rookie point guard Kristi Toliver, the No. 3 overall pick, and 6-foot-5 center Chen Nan, MVP of the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association. Chen and 6-foot-6 Sylvia Fowles could give the Sky quite the twin-towers tandem - not the least of which is Laimbeer’s concern until they meet in the regular season Aug. 9.

“They’re going to run around with their heads cut off too for half a game with their young players,” Laimbeer said. “You just work on your own stuff.”

The Shock and Sky play a second preseason game at The Palace May 27.

AfterShocks: Not surprisingly, preseason “success” has not been a strong indicator of what will happen when the games count. The Shock have a combined preseason record of 2-5 preceding their three championship campaigns. Both victories came in 2006. The Shock lost their only preseason game last year, 74-64, to the San Antonio Silver Stars - whom they swept in the Finals four months later.