It’s a new season, and they have a new coach, but is it a new Tulsa Shock?
It’s probably the most overused phrase in sports, but when you have a 9-59 record since the move from Detroit in 2009 you can only move one direction: up. With a mission of improvement and a new team on the floor, new Tulsa Shock Head Coach Gary Kloppenburg set to the task of clawing out of the WNBA cellar Saturday night.
After a 1-1 preseason that saw the Shock lose to Atlanta and win in impressive fashion against Seattle at home, the San Antonio Silver Stars came to the BOK Center to kick off the 2012 WNBA season with Tulsa. The Silver Stars are one of the few teams in the WNBA that the Shock can say they have a winning record over (19-16). It’s the first game of four this season they will play with San Antonio, three at home and one in late August in the AT&T Center.
The Shock started fast with newcomers Riquna Williams and Temeka Johnson leading the way. Johnson scored the first points of the 2012 Shock season with an elbow jumper off the opening tip. Tulsa went on a 9-0 run to begin the game, with the first San Antonio bucket not coming until nearly two minutes had elapsed.
In the first half, Tulsa shot 42.5% from the floor and 55.6% from 3-point range. San Antonio’s Sophia Young led the Silver Stars through the first half with 12 points and 6 rebounds, and as a team the Silver Stars shot 51.9% from the field and and even 30% from behind the arc.. At the line, the Silver Stars outshot Tulsa in percentage 87.5% to 42.9%. Over and above all that, the Shock led the game at the half 42-38.
Sana Antonio made the right adjustments in the second half of the game and led in the last two quarters. The Silver Stars were trailing 77-73 with 2:48 to go in the 4th quarter when the started a 14-2 run, including a 3-pointerby Shameka Chirton with 46.3 to give San Antonio an 88-79 victory.
Despite the loss Shock head coach Gary Kloppenburg was complimentary of his young team. “We were right in that game, tied game and we just had a couple of possessions down the stretch that hurt us. That one rebound went over our head, we had a really good defensive stop, we couldn’t get the ball, they kicked it out for three, got us in the whole.” Kloppenburg said, “We’re going to be a team, there’s no margin for error, we’re going to be in a lot of close games. We got to be able to come up with those plays at the end of the game. We just didn’t come up with them tonight. We’re going to go back keep working on stuff, we’ll look at the film and we’ll get better.”
With that, Kloppenburg is optimistic that the few things that went wrong Saturday night could be fixed. “We’ve got a young team and it’s going to be a work in progress. Our kids played extremely hard, gave themselves a chance to win and just couldn’t execute it at both ends in the last two minutes.”
Temeka Johnson led all scorers with 21 points. Rookies Riquna Williams and Glory Johnson scored 12 and 11 points respectively in their WNBA debuts. Ivory Latta added 14 for Tulsa who had four players score in double figures. Rookie Glory Johnson finished with a double-double grabbing 10 rebounds to go along with her 11 points. The Shock forced 24 turnovers and recorded 17 steals in the game. Their 17 steals surpassed their season-high of 12 steals from the 2011 season. Riquna Williams had five steals.
Tulsa Shock photo slide show.
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
The Tulsa Shock will return to action this Tuesday night at 7:05pm when they take on the Phoenix Mercury. The Shock are offering a special text special in which fans can text 55678 and receive a free ticket to Tuesday night’s game.
After Tuesday night the Shock will embark upon their longest road trip of the 2012 season where they will visit Washington, Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix and Chicago before hosting the 2011 WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx on June 9th
Tickets for the entire home schedule for the Tulsa Shock are now on sale at the BOK Center box office, at wnba.com/Shock, or bokcenter.com.