Training camp open, Shock gets down to business with new coach
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Monday, April 30, 2012
4/30/12 at 4:36 AM
Tulsa Shock veterans and newcomers spent Sunday getting used to new coach Gary Kloppenburg's teaching style.
"He wants to get you better and he's willing to put the time in so it makes you willing to put the time in," guard Scholanda Dorrell said.
Almost everyone put in more than three hours Sunday as the Shock opened its third training camp in the University of Tulsa's Reynolds Center auxiliary gym.
"It's the first day and you've got to expect practice to go long because (Kloppenburg's) such a great teacher," guard Ivory Latta said. "He's doing a lot of breakdowns to make sure everybody is getting everything he's saying."
Latta said teaching will be a big difference from last season when the Shock went 3-31, finishing with the fewest wins in a 34-game WNBA regular-season.
"He's very defensive-minded," Latta said, "and everybody is pretty much buying into what he wants us to do."
Kloppenburg said he appreciated the effort on the first day.
"We throught it really went well," he said. "It's a nice thing, having a young team, with a lot of young players (with) high energy, wanting to get better. I was really happy with the energy, all the way through. Sometimes teams drag at the end, but they finished up very strong, so a very good first day."
Kloppenburg's resume suggests he should know something about rebuilding a team. He had assistant gigs with expansion teams in the WNBA (Seattle Storm) and NBA (Charlotte Bobcats).
Intensity needs to be high because the Shock has a lot of openings on its 11-player roster. Only six players were retained from last season.
"We have a lot of jobs open, so it's like a three-week job interview," Kloppenburg said. "There's a lot of players who want to get into the WNBA, or get back into the WNBA."
Rookie forward Glory Johnson practiced like she was intent on winning one of those jobs.
"You have to have a sense of urgency because you might not be on the team in a couple of weeks," said Johnson, the Shock's No. 4 overall pick in the draft from the University of Tennessee.
On the difference between Kloppenburg and her vaunted Vols mentor, Pat Summitt, Johnson said, "He's a lot different from Pat because he's not a yeller. But they have the same mindset. They both want to win."
Kloppenburg complimented Johnson on her "high-RPM motor running all the time." He also liked the looks of fellow rookie "bigs" Vicki Baugh, also from Tennessee, and Lynetta Kizer, from Maryland.
The Shock needs help in the middle, especially early in the season with 6-foot-8 Elizabeth Cambage in Australia to play for her national team in the Summer Olmpics.
Counting Dorrell, who played for the Shock in 2010 and last season with the San Antonio Silver Stars, Kloppenburg had more new faces than old for the first day of camp.
Tiffany Jackson hasn't reported "for personal reasons. We're letting her stay out right now and we're waiting to see what develops," Kloppenburg said. Jackson was one of the league's most improved players for the Shock last season, averaging 12.4 points and 8.4 rebounds.
Temeka Johnson, acquired from the Phoenix Mercury in a trade for Andrea Riley, is still involved in the playoffs with her Russian professional team, and is expected to report next week.
The Shock has only five practice days before departing for Saturday's first exhibiton game at the Atlanta Dream. Does that speed up the clock?
"It does in a way. But with the our team, we want to put them into the fire and see what we've got," Kloppenburg said. "So we'll go (to Atlanta) with all of our 15 and play 'em all. They get tired up of beating up on each other after a week, so it'll be nice to get somebody new."
1 p.m. Saturday
Vs. San Antonio
7 p.m. May 19
Original Print Headline: Shock gets down to business
Mike Brown 918-581-8390
Tulsa Shock coach Gary Kloppenburg goes over a drill during Sunday's practice. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World
Rookie forward Glory Johnson runs during Tulsa Shock practice Sunday. MIKE SIMONS / Tulsa World