The task at hand for new head coach Gary Kloppenburg was to turn around a franchise with a 3-31 record last season. At 3-15 halfway into this season, the Shock are technically on a pace far better than last year, but Kloppenburg makes no delusions about saying that its worth celebrating.
"We obviously are not that happy with our record," he said. "We want to win every game. But we felt like there were 3-4 games where we had a great chance to win but they got away from us. That's part of having a young developing team and those things will happen. We feel optimistic though. We have a hard working group and the second half of the season is going to feel like a whole new season for us basically."
The Shock should feel a nice boost of energy for the second half of the season with the return of Liz Cambage, the powerhouse center. Cambage was out practicing with the Australia National Team for the Olympics, throwing down dunks so hard they probably registered on the Richter Scale. Kloppenburg said the team needs to work on closing out games and Cambage's return to solidify the paint is likely to help that.
But at 3-15, the road to recovery is a long one, especially when you're dealing with teams like Connecticut, Minnesota and Los Angeles that essentially have as many wins as the Shock do losses. The Shock are strong defensively but need to hone in on their consistency. In their defense, they have been playing mostly Western Conference teams, teams that have outshined their Eastern Conference counterparts in the first half, so perhaps the second season is only likely to get better for the Shock. How much better rests solely in their hands.
During the team's last game against the Minnesota Lynx, all the chatter was around Maya Moore's 19 points in one quarter. But nobody talked about how Johnson, a rookie from the University of Tennessee, actually scored more points than Moore that game (30 points, a career high for her).
Johnson seems to be hitting a stride lately offensively, but her biggest strength is defense. She's leading the team in blocks, steals and rebounds, making her a force to be reckoned with inside. With Liz Cambage now back into the mix, expect the two to be dominant towers in the paint.
� Aman Ali, WNBA.com