The Shock head into action after having the worst record in the league last year (3-31) but new coach Gary Kloppenburg is determined to turn that around.
“We tried to improve our talent level all across the board with some trades, free agents and the draft,” Kloppenburg said. “We were hurting with our record last year and in places like shooting so we tried to bring in more athletics and more skill.”
One of those players the Shock signed was Temeka Johnson, who the Mercury traded in exchange for Andrea Riley. Kloppenburg said he envisions Johnson, a seven-year league veteran, being a mentor for some of the younger players on the team.
“Adding Temeka Johnson will give us a big lift,” he said. “She's a leader, she's very vocal and players look up to her. That could give us a jump start.”
One of the biggest challenges the Shock will have to overcome is building a strong team with so many new players. It becomes even harder now that the team will be playing without their star player Tiffany Jones (formerly Tiffany Jackson). Jones is expecting her first child and will sit out the entire season.
“She was our leading rebounder and scorer so that's tough to lose,” Kloppenburg said. “It's definitely a learning curve for the team to get adjusted to and it’ll take some time to gel. But we got a lot of good new talent that can contribute, and I think we’ve built a pretty good nucleus.”
He added the revamped Shock is responding well as a team and fans have a lot to look forward to this season.
"We're trying to get the fans back on board and excited," he said. "I think it's starting to work already. We haven't played a regular season game yet and we're already seeing some excitement."
Tulsa had an impressive haul of picks in the 2012 draft, picking up four of the15 players that were invited to attend the draft. In potentially their best move, the Shock were very fortunate to have Miami guard Riquna Williams fall to them in the second round.
Williams was one of the most explosive players that came out of the draft, averaging 19.6, 21.7 and 16.6 points per game her sophomore, junior and senior seasons respectively. If she keeps up with numbers like that going into her first season with the WNBA, she could turn into one of the steals of the draft.
Tulsa desperately needs to turn their losing record around and with their top scorer Tiffany Jones out this season, Williams could fill that void.
– Aman Ali and Anthony Oliva, WNBA.com