WNBA president impressed with Tulsa Shock
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Thursday, November 15, 2012
11/15/12 at 2:15 PM
Improvement by the Tulsa Shock was one of the “bright spots” of the 2012 WNBA season, league president Laurel Richie said Thursday in an exclusive interview with the Tulsa World.
“I can just feel great energy . . . with this team. I know that it is an ownership group that is very passionate and committed to basketball, whether to our league or the broader context of youth and basketball,” Richie said.
Richie was in town meeting with the Shock ownership group and partners, part of her effort to visit every league city at least once during the offseason, "really just checking in and saying `hello' and keeping our finger on the pulse."
One year removed from having the worst record (3-31) in WNBA history, the Shock went 9-25 under first-year head coach Gary Kloppenburg. Tulsa’s six-win improvement was the second largest in the league in 2012 behind the Los Angeles Sparks' nine-win improvement.
“I think their on-court performance was even better than their record. There were a lot of games that really came down to the wire that didn’t tip their way,” Richie said.
From the business side for the Shock, “attendance was up, sponsorships were up . . . so I feel an incredible amount of momentum happening here,” she said.
Tulsa’s improvement came despite the fact that 6-foot-8 Liz Cambage, the league’s No. 2 overall draft pick and a rookie standout with the Shock in 2011, missed the entire 2012 WNBA season.
She missed the first half of the season to prepare for the London Summer Olympics and decided not to return for the final 16 games after helping lead her native Australia to a bronze medal. Her agent said Cambage's Olympic experience ;left her "physically exhausted."
“It was an unfortunate situation,” Richie said. “I was impressed with how the (Shock) coaching staff and the team rallied around it and finished out the season. This was a breakthrough season for the Shock.”
For more on Richie and the Shock, see Friday's edition.