Interview: SLAMíS Ben York
Tulsa Shock:As someone who has covered the league for awhile, what are your thoughts on how far this league has come and where it is headed?
Ben York: It's difficult, even for the naysayers, to argue against the tremendous growth of the league over the past 13 years. More importantly, it undeniably is headed in the right direction thanks to the leadership from Donna Orender and her staff. More and more people are beginning to realize how amazing these women are both as basketball players and human beings. Do we still have quite a ways to go in terms of gaining mainstream respect? Absolutely. But if 2009 was any indication, the momentum for the entire league is a wonderful thing to see. I think 2010 has the potential to be even better.
TS: Were you surprised that the Detroit franchise moved to Tulsa?
BY:I wasn't surprised the franchise moved with how much hurt that Detroit was/is in as a city, but I was a bit surprised they went to Tulsa. Still, I think the community already has embraced the Shock in a phenomenal way. I'm excited to see the new style of play they'll bring in 2010.
TS: What impact do you think Coach Nolan Richardson and his style of basketball have on the Tulsa Shock?
BY: I think his impact and leadership will be invaluable to such a young team. When you play his style, it is an absolute necessity to be in top shape both physically and mentally. His style will force the new players to have a dedicated work ethic on a daily basis. That alone will help them win games.
TS: What impact will his style have on the WNBA as a whole?
BY: There is little doubt that whoever plays the Shock while Richardson is coach, will have to play extremely hard if they want to win. The "40 minutes of Hell" mentality is taxing on any player, much less the opposing team as a whole. It will be interesting to see how the opposition adapts to such a fierce and disciplined mentality throughout the season.
TS: Can this style of play work in the league?
BY: I have no doubt it can work in the league. If I'm honest, I think his style is something the league needs. The only caveat is having the right players for it to work and I think the Shock do. The collective group seems more than willing to embrace his style and that is half the battle for a coach.
TS: What do you see as the greatest strengths of this Shock team as it looks in training camp?
BY: Having a chip on their shoulder. While relocating and losing some of their top players, they are flying somewhat under the radar to the rest of the league and not many are picking them to make the post-season. Sometimes, that's all it takes for players to band together and really surprise a lot of people.
TS: Greatest weaknesses?
BY: Lack of experience. Still, I think playing hard and focusing on defense makes up for that. I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "the basketball finds energy." I couldn't think of a better example to describe Richardson's style of play.
TS: Playoff, Finals and Championship predictions for his year?
BY: Be sure to pick up the next issue of SLAM for more. :) I picked the Mercury, Lynx, Storm, and Sparks to make the playoffs in the West and the Fever, Liberty, Sun, and Dream to come out of the East. I also picked a rematch of the 2009 WNBA Finals between Phoenix and Indiana. You'll have to pick up the May issue to see who I picked to win it all...