Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

May 23, 2013

Strong offseason raises bar for Tulsa Shock

TULSA — Are the pieces finally falling in place for the Tulsa Shock?

Time will tell, but if the preseason prognostications of the league's general managers are any indication, Tulsa finally looks like a playoff contender. A survey found the Shock as the WNBA's most improved team.

Tulsa, which went 9-25 last season, is now on the playoff radar after a series of offseason moves. And it appears that 2011 draft pick Liz Cambage will also rejoin the team, adding to the intrigue.

First, though, came the trades with Minnesota and New York to acquire former Stanford standouts Candice Wiggins and Nicole Powell, respectively. Next, came the signing of Notre Dame All-American Skylar Diggins, undoubtedly the top point guard in the 2013 draft.

"It seems like people want to play in Tulsa now,'' forward Glory Johnson said. "Last year, players would ask `Why would I come to Tulsa?' Now, with all the great players we have, it's like people are saying `Check out Tulsa now.'''

The Shock open on the road Saturday in Atlanta. Washington visits on Monday.

"The excitement is building,'' Shock coach Gary Kloppenburg said. "It's a privilege to be in this league. It's a high-level league and has the best players in the world.

"We feel like all through (the roster), we have more talent. We've been happy with the work ethic in camp. Everyone is working hard to learn everything. Making that final cut (Thursday) is going to be really hard. I'd like to keep all 12.''

Kloppenburg remained in contact with Cambage in the hope of luring the 6-foot-8-post player back to Tulsa.

"I talked with her, emailed and texted her all year long,'' he said. "I think she finally realized she wanted to give this shot. We're happy to get her back.''

Cambage started 11 of 33 games her rookie season, averaging 11.5 points and 4.7 rebounds on a team that won only three games. Last winter, Cambage came into her own as a pro, averaging 36.2 points and 11.1 rebounds for Zhejiang in China.

Johnson emerged as a star as well, playing in Russia.

"When I went to Russia, I was told the Americans - and there were two of us - were expected to take charge of the team,'' she said. "I put in extra practice in the gym and came back with the attitude that I want to contribute however I can.''

The frontcourt combination of Johnson and Tiffany Jackson-Jones, has the former excited. But Jackson-Jones suffered a stress fracture to her right tibia and will likely miss the first three weeks.

"It's a little disappointing to have the stress fracture but it's just a bump in the road,'' she said. "I'm very excited to be back. It's exciting to have Liz coming back and with Skylar, Candice and Nicole here.

"I'm so excited to be on the court with Glory. She's so athletic. She has the ability to be a premier player in this league. Candice is already very vocal, that's something we lacked in the past. I played with Nicole in New York.''

Jackson-Jones said she was eager to see Cambage on the court.

"She's had a few years to mature,'' she said, "and I can only imagine how hard it was for her being 18, drafted and moving so far from home.''

Diggins has completed her first preseason camp and proudly wore a battle scar after a sharp elbow to the face.

"It's gone isn't it?'' Diggins asked of the scar. "It looks better I know.''

Diggins laughs at the attention she has received since signing with Jay-Z's new agency.

"I come from humble beginnings,'' she said. "I drove a 2004 Honda in high school and college and was really happy to have it. It's a blessing to have been a part of the (Jay-Z) dynasty, whether I got a car or not.''

Diggins is more concerned with basketball.

"It feels like we are in on the ground floor on something really special,'' she said. "We might be the youngest team in the league, but we're exciting and we will be fun to watch.

"We're excited to have Liz back. I know the city will do a great job in welcoming her back. The fans of Tulsa are great people, they welcomed me and my family and I believe they will do the same for Liz.''

League rules dictate rosters must be trimmed to 11 by Thursday.

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0237web.jpg Hrdlicka, Teter pour ‘heart’ into Zebra soccer program

    For the past four years, Claremore High School seniors Katelin Teter and Nick Hrdlicka have represented the ‘heart and soul’ of the Lady Zebra and Zebra soccer programs.
    The soccer duo will join seven other seniors on Friday night for Homecoming against Collinsville at Lantow Field.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • DSC_0114web.jpg SOCCER: JV Lady Zebras edge Verdigris, 2-1

    Claremore sophomore forward Brylee Brasher may have felt a little out of position Monday night during the junior varsity game against Verdigris.
    Normally, starting in the goal for the Lady Zebras varsity team, Brasher came out of her comfort zone to start at forward for the Claremore JV.
    The position switch proved to be a great decision for head coach Robin Sutherland, as Brasher showed a tenacity on offense that led to Claremore’s 2-1 win over Verdigris.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Hart: Vols hoops job still 'extremely attractive'

    Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart believes the criticism former men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin encountered this season won't hinder the Volunteers' search for a successor.

    April 17, 2014

  • BIG 12 MBB: Kansas State gives Weber 1-year contract extension

    Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber has received a one-year contract extension through the 2018-19 school year after leading the Wildcats to 47 wins in his first two seasons, the most victories by any coach in his first two years in school history.

    April 17, 2014

  • NCAA MEN'S BB: Manning completes Wake Forest coaching staff

    New Wake Forest basketball coach Danny Manning is bringing three members of his Tulsa coaching staff with him.

    April 17, 2014

  • NCAA MEN'S BB: Duke's Parker declares for NBA Draft

    Duke freshman Jabari Parker is entering the NBA draft.
    Coach Mike Krzyzewski says in a statement Thursday it was ''an honor for us to have him in our program.'' In an essay posted on SI.com, Parker says the NBA offers him the best chance to develop both as a player and off the court.

    April 17, 2014

  • NBA: Blake Griffin's 16th technical triggers 1-game suspension

    Blake Griffin has picked up his 16th technical foul of the season, triggering a league-mandated one-game suspension.

    April 17, 2014

  • NBA CAPSULES: Wizards top Celtics, clinch playoff berth

    Bradley Beal scored 27 points and Washington clinched the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 118-102 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
    The Wizards will be facing Chicago in their first playoff appearance since 2008.

    April 17, 2014

  • Let the (real) games begin: It's NBA playoff time

    Finally, the NBA playoffs are set.
    It took the entire season to fill out those brackets.
    Overtime thrillers in Memphis and Charlotte, a go-ahead dunk in Oklahoma City to win a game and cap another scoring title for Kevin Durant, plus some good old-fashioned disinterest by Brooklyn ... all that, and more, on the final night of the season was needed before the eight conference-quarterfinal matchups in this season's NBA playoffs could be decided.

    April 17, 2014

  • Hopes high Negro Leagues stadium makes comeback

    The light touch of a paint roller is enough to dislodge a chunk of plaster from the crumbling walls of Hinchliffe Stadium.
    Though silent for decades, the former home of several Negro Leagues teams is getting another chance at bat as baseball's first National Historic Landmark.

    April 17, 2014