The Tulsa Shock's new Head Coach Gary Kloppenburg was introduced at a press conference at the Saint Francis Health Zone on the afternoon of January 4. Below are highlights from the press conference:
HEAD COACH GARY KLOPPENBURG:
This is a dream come true to be able to take over a team and come into a market and a fanbase that is hungry for a good team. We are going to do that we are going to work our tails off here this off-season and leading into the season to improve our team in any way we can We are committed to getting this done.
We have a good young core of players, theres no way that should be a team that won only three games. But we can build, we can make it a lot better and thats going to be our plan going forward.
We want to build excitement by the way we play, by the character of the people that we have playing for us by the organization and I know all these guys, the owners, the staff, everyone in this town wants to get this going in the right direction and we plan on doing that right way.
My vision for this team is to be a tough-minded defensive team. You cant win at an level in any sport if you dont have that as a foundation. We are going to be a tough, disruptive, pressure-defense team and we want to get players to buy into that system and teach them how to play. Our training camp is going to be a flat-out war. We are going to get players in there that are tough and play defense.
On the other side of the ball, we want a team that can really run, get up and down the floor and get easy baskets as well as execute in the half court. We are going to be well prepared, we are going to be ready for everybody that comes into this building. We want the BOK Center to be a nightmare for other teams.
Thats a promise from me, we are going to work. We are going to be hard-working team that can get out and run and be exciting.
Our initial plan was to hire a general manager and a coach second. Going into any situation like this, you always have a few options, and we really want to make sure we put ourselves in the right position.
It became very clear as we started discussions with Coach Kloppenburg of Indiana that he brought a unique blend of skills to the table and we descided to create this hyrbrid GM position between Gary and myself. Gary will be responsible for recruiting, drafting, on-court activities, off-court activities in regards to players and community relations and promotions. His responsibility is to put a winning team on the court. My responsibility will be managing salary cap, working with Gary on Free agents, I will be working with all the agents that players are assigned to and I will be negotiating contracts with Gary.
We had five or six criteria that we were looking for in our next head coach. Number one, we wanted someone who has WNBA experience Coach worked in Seattle, Phoenix and Indiana. So that tells us that he has the pedigree as Bill mentioned.
Number two, someone who understands the game I spoke with Lin Dunn, the Head Coach of Indiana and Kelly Kapsusf, the GM in Indiana and they rave about this guy he deserves a head coaching opportunity. They already miss him."
Number three, someone who has respect amongst players and coaches around the league. We were sitting at dinner last night and he got a text from Tamika Catchings wishing him good luck and shes so happy and elated that he finally has a chance. He has coached players like Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson in Seattle he was named the top assistant by the general managers around the league.
Somebody who is committed to Tulsa: I picked him up at the airport yesterday at about 1:45 and he had three bags with him hes not going back We want someone in this market, someone who can relate to this market and help us market and sell this basketball team on and off the basketball court.
We want him to lead on and off the court. I will tell you this, Gary is going to lead by action. His work ethic is second to none. Hes been called a gym rat. We are hiring a basketball coach. A basketball coach that has the respect of the league and players.