Coach Richardson is Ready For 2011
Fifteen talented players entered training camp two and a half weeks ago, and the Shock had until June 2 to bring the team down to 11.
Trimming the roster was not easy, said Coach Nolan Richardson. Nonetheless, the hard decision was made, and four were cut after training camp, including WNBA veteran Betty Lennox and forward RaShanda McCants.
“It was tough,” Richardson said. “It always is. You can only have 15 in camp, so that means four have got to go. There is a very thin line between the talent at that level, and that makes it very hard to pick out the players you’ve got to have, but that what’s you try to do.”
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Despite losing four quality players, the Shock are now entering the season with stability and solid chemistry, two factors that were not present in 2010.
“We did a lot of moving around last year,” Richardson said. “This time around, we were able to come in to camp with the same girls we are going to open up the season with. That’s a plus, because they know more about what I am expecting, as opposed to the same time last year.”
Last year’s 6-and-28 season is behind them, but that doesn’t mean the Shock are not learning from the past.
“We have to turn the tides of what happened last year,” Richardson said. “The key is to move on. I need to know what happened in order to know where we are going. So we correct it, so we can move on and do better.”
Richardson described this year’s team as youthful. Draft picks Elizabeth Cambage, Kayla Pederson and Chastity Reed added to returning guard Marion Jones and newly acquired Sheryl Swoopes, brings a good overall balance.
“This gives me a chance to develop a thought pattern for the way I want to play, as opposed to a lot of pros who are set in their ways,” Richardson said. “The kind of young ladies I have in the system right now, I have a chance to get them playing an up tempo game.”
The players are pumped for their first game season, and they are not alone. Richardson admits he too has a new excitement for the game, thanks to this team.
“When you are bringing in the young ladies that we have, I can hardly wait for practice,” Richardson said. “It’s not always the coach that produces the energy; it is the players that come in with the energy and I respond to the way they feel.”
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They will need that energy to start out strong. The Tulsa Shock will begin the 2011 season on the road, playing four of their first five games away.
“We’ve got to come out with some victories, because that sets the tone for kind of team we have,” Richardson said. “We are going to get a test immediately to begin with. We’ll find out more about ourselves in the first five games than most people who have not played on the road as much.”
As they prepare for the June 4 season opener, the Shock’s two main goals have been to get their bodies in shape and get their mind ready to play.
“We have to get ourselves in a position to play every night the kind of basketball we are capable of playing,” Richardson said. “We want people to prepare for us, and we are going to be prepared for everybody.”