Shock Back on the Road
“Fifty bucks,” Smith said. “That’s all I gambled. They took it pretty quick so I was like, ‘forget this.’”
Instead, Smith went to see the Blue Man Group, took a gondola ride, met up with some Ohio State fans, stopped by Caesar’s Palace and did a little shopping.
“Tried to see the Treasure Island show but it was too windy,” she said. “We had a good time. A good time.”
Smith and her teammates also managed to squeeze in a productive scrimmage, their first opportunity in 2007 to play someone besides each other.
“It was nice to play some other teams, just to see us with some of our new additions,” Smith said. “I know we’re missing a couple post players, but just to have Pee-Wee (Johnson) and Katie Feenstra and see (Jacqueline) Batteast and Ivory (Latta), it was nice.”
Center Kara Braxton and forward Cheryl Ford are still overseas; no timetable has been set for their respective returns. Johnson said the scrimmage still helped her get a better idea of head coach Bill Laimbeer’s schemes as she prepares for her first season in Detroit.
“We only had a couple of players out (in Vegas and) we only had a couple of players in training camp, so when we went against somebody else it was a lot of fun,” Johnson said. “You could see how things are going to develop, what they’re telling me - ‘this is going to be open,’ ‘that is going to be open’ - you see that more when you go against another team.
Johnson will get a chance to see even more Friday when the Shock play their first preseason game against the Houston Comets, one of the other teams that participated in Las Vegas. Smith and Johnson both noticed the Comets brought a lot of players to Vegas to compete for the final roster spots.
“Houston and Sacramento had lot of people I think they were evaluating,” Smith said. “They were missing some folks” from the regular rotation. Many of those camp invitees will likely see time Friday night as they try to impress first-year Comets head coach Karleen Thompson.
Johnson, who spent the past three seasons playing in the Western Conference for San Antonio, is familiar with the Comets usual personnel, but doesn’t exactly have any secrets to share. “Everybody knows Houston is going to come out strong,” she said. “Sheryl (Swoopes) is going to play well and they’ve made some additions to their team.”
Swoopes, a two-time league MVP, will be particularly motivated, as far as preseason games go. The game will be played at Texas Tech, her alma mater, in Lubbock, Texas. The site doesn’t hold quite the allure for Smith that Vegas did, or their destination Sunday night, her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, where the Shock play the Washington Mystics.
“Lubbock … playing a game on Friday night,” Smith said. “I don’t know much about Lubbock. I’m not sure there’s much to do.”
Laimbeer should be able to think of something.