Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

January 24, 2014

WNBA: Fred Williams named Tulsa Shock head coach

TULSA — A glance over the Tulsa Shock roster was enough to convince Fred Williams to pursue the WNBA job.

''It was one of the key ingredients,'' Williams said Thursday after a press conference in which he was named the third head coach in the five years of the franchise. ''I remember thinking I like what I see. I know where we can go with this.''

Williams, who brings 30-plus years of coaching women's basketball, was one of 15 applicants for the job. In 2011, there were five candidates, said team president Steve Swetoha.

Williams replaces Gary Kloppenburg, who was 20-47 in two seasons. Williams guided the Atlanta Dream to the playoffs last season after a 17-17 regular season but was ultimately dismissed after losing to the Minnesota Lynx in the Finals.

In addition to his stint at Atlanta, Williams was head coach of the Utah Starzz (now the San Antonio Stars) from 1999-2001. He is 58-55 in WNBA regular season games, 5-6 in the postseason and has been to three WNBA Finals as a coach.

He also guided Southern California to back-to-back NCAA titles in 1983-84.

Williams said he is eager to get to work and excited to have players such as Liz Cambage, Glory Johnson, Tiffany Jackson-Jones, Skylar Diggins and Riquna Williams on the roster.

''What I saw in the Shock last year was a team that was hungry,'' he added. ''They were in a lot of games last year that just slipped away from them. I also saw passion in their eyes.

''Our roster with Liz Cambage, Glory Johnson, Tiffany Jackson-Jones, Candice Wiggins and Skylar Diggins allows us to do many things. We can go big in the frontcourt and we can go small.''

He assessed himself as an ''in-your-face'' guy.

''I've got passion, I've got drive,'' he said. ''I get into you. I have proven that.''

He prefers an up-tempo style of basketball.

''I like a fast-break team offensively, getting the ball up the floor, a lot of pick and roll, a lot of post-set plays,'' he said. ''The main thing is to play without fear and share the basketball. Defensively, every loose ball you have to go for. We are going to `Rock with the Shock.'''

Williams admitted it will take a ''lot of work'' to get the Shock competitive.

''I'm fired up and ready to go,'' he said.

Williams said he is already working on the WNBA draft which will be held later in the spring. He pointed to Maryland's Alyssa Thomas, Baylor's Odyssey Sims and Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike as the top draft picks.

Swetoha said Williams had all the criteria the search committee was looking for - a proven winner and WNBA experience. Other criteria included strong player development skills, leadership, understanding the game, basketball intelligence among others.

''Those attributes kept coming up whenever we talked about Fred,'' Swetoha said.

 

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