12 Days, 12 Previews: Tulsa Shock
Five keys to a successful season.
The WNBA’s 15th season begins June 3rd and SLAMonline is counting down the days with in-depth previews of all twelve teams.
Prior to the start of each WNBA season (and NBA season for that matter), every writer and blogger in the country compiles extensive (by “extensive” I mean “wordy,” and by “wordy” I mean “tired”) previews analyzing the upcoming year, team by team. It’s just a fact of life. Almost as certain as death and taxes.
The problem, however, is they all look, feel, and say the same exact thing every year (copy and paste). You, the reader, deserves far better. Thus, we’re going through each team discussing five specific things they’ll need for their 2011 campaign to be considered a success.
More importantly, we want this to be interactive – be sure to post your thoughts in the comment section below.
Five Keys to the Season: Tulsa Shock
By Ben York / @bjyork
5. Identity: For the Shock to succeed in 2011, it’s not that they have to create a whole other identity, it’s simply that they have to continue to build upon the tone they set in 2010. They’ll get there; it’s just going to take some time.
It starts with defense and energy; if that foundation isn’t set, then the team will crumble within. The great part about the Shock is that you know you’re in for a dog fight every time you play them.
Players and fans respect that.
4. Personnel: Having the right players to run Nolan Richardson’s system is, essentially, step #1. Last year, they had a mix of players who were, theoretically, a good fit in the system as well as others who probably weren’t the best fit. Heading into 2011, Richardson brought in veterans Betty Lennox, Sheryl Swoopes, and rookie Liz Cambage who all fit perfectly into his style of play.
However, having those players buy into the system is another thing entirely. If training camp is any indication, all signs are pointing in the right direction.
3. Turnovers: In Richardson’s system, taking care of the ball is mandatory. Unfortunately for the Shock in 2010, they didn’t do that; Tulsa averaged a league-high 17.3 turnovers per game. This is a major reason why they averaged just 42.4 percent shooting in 2010, second-worst in the league.
A big part of Richardson’s system is creating more shot opportunities than the opposing team; turning the ball over disrupts everything they’re trying to do on both ends of the floor. Even if they cut that average down to 14 or 15 per night (right around the middle part of the league) they’ll see a huge difference offensively.
2. Defensive Consistency: Active. Energetic. Suffocating. In 2010, the Shock was a bit of an enigma. They forced a league-best 17.0 turnovers per game but allowed a league-worst 47 percent shooting percentage from the opposition. They averaged a league-best 9.8 steals each night but gave up almost 38 rebounds per game, second-worst in the league.
Obviously, the Shock need to be more consistent on the defensive end of the floor in 2011. They’ll need to rebound the ball better on the defensive end (which allow them to push the ball on the offensive end), take better care of the ball, and solidify the paint to force opponents to shoot more lower-percentage shots.
1. Star? Who will be the go-to player for the Shock in 2011? Sheryl Swoopes? Betty Lennox? Liz Cambage? Someone needs to step up and indisputably own that leadership role. Tulsa doesn’t need someone to lead the league in scoring but they will need someone to average more than 12.4 ppg which was the team-high in 2010 (Ivory Latta).
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts and we’ll tweet out some of our favorite responses!