POSTED ON JUNE 23, 2010:
Traders Don't Win
The Tulsa Shock have had a bumpy season and several moves
On the Pine. Another curious case is Marion Jones … She is not contributing as a player. One has to conclude that keeping her around is strictly a publicity stunt.
No one cares about your fantasy team. It's sad but true. As exciting as you think your fantasy tale is, others simply do not care -- except for this one.
A diehard Chicago Bears fan in my league routinely loads up his fantasy football roster with Bears. As you can imagine, this spells disaster. Within two weeks of the draft, he is picking up free agents, making desperate trades and taking a defensive stance when asked about his strategy. He is the official laughing stock of the Oklahoma Mac Daddies. Does he even watch football?
Sound familiar? It was Oct. 20, 2009 when we received official word that the WNBA's Detroit Shock franchise was relocating to Tulsa. To be kind, it's been a mixed bag.
Some of the bad luck has little to do with the Tulsa organization. Former Shock players such as Katie Smith and Cheryl Ford could have provided veteran leadership and helped usher in the Shock era. For various reasons, neither joined the team.
Other questionable moves stem from the change in philosophy. The previous coaching staff was a polar opposite to the current one. Last year, a combination of Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn led the Detroit Shock. The former NBA "Bad Boys" preached stingy defense but also a flowing offense.
Nolan Richardson continues to try and inject his famed "40 Minutes of Hell" style into the women's game. Can it work? Who knows, so far the results have been lacking.
But when you treat your lineup like my friend Bill treats his fantasy roster, it is going to look disjointed.
A dozen or so roster moves might be necessary. Finding players to fit your style is a must. Even more important is team chemistry.
The team with the best team chemistry does not always win the championship. However, the team with the worst chemistry never does.
How does a coach create team chemistry? Let's just say it is extremely difficult with volatile roster turnover. It started early on with the Shock franchise.
Shock guard Shavonte Zellous arrived in Tulsa just days before the season tipped off. Imagine, for a second, if this happened in the NFL or the NBA. Local talk radio and daily papers would have ripped the organization for the perceived lack of dedication to winning. Of course, Zellous has since been traded. This should have been a precursor of things to come.
Often times, player transactions are made in an attempt to rid the unit of malcontents. Perhaps a veteran player or two attempt to poison the locker room. This does not appear to be the case.
Another curious case is Marion Jones. If you've read my previous outtakes on her, you know I'm a fan of the signing.
However, she is not contributing as a player. One has to conclude that keeping her around is strictly a publicity stunt.
In a competitive professional league, the organization must balance the publicity angle with the on-court product. If you Google or Bing "Marion Jones Tulsa Shock," the results are what you would expect.
A list of stories announcing the signing but not much since. The single media outlet on Page One covering her brief career to date has a telling quote. From a Chicagotribune.com article, Jones is quoted as saying, "It has been a humbling experience."
Check out her numbers. She's seen playing time in all 11 games thus far. Of the seven Shock players who have played in all 11 games, her 6 minutes per contest is by far the lowest.
Jones, to date, is averaging 1 point per game. Her 33 percent shooting average must improve. Assists, steals, rebounds and turnovers are all well below 1 per game.
But there is good news for the Shock (3-8). The Western Division of the WNBA is abysmal. Of the top four teams in the standings, only the Seattle Storm has a winning record. The top four at the end of the regular season earn playoff berths.
Maybe the constant roster juggling will pay off this year. Perhaps conditioning rather than shooting will be the key to several upset victories in the coming weeks.
The Shock returns home Friday night for a 7pm tip off against New York. They follow-up with a matinee at the BOK Center on Sunday at 3pm against division leading Seattle. This is a fantastic chance to see three of the best players in the league -- Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson and Swin Cash -- hit the court.
Visit wnba.com/tulsa for additional schedule and ticket information.
This past Saturday night was unkind to a couple of local fighters. Tulsa boxing phenom Allan Green lost decisively in the Super Six tournament to Andre Ward.
Green was outboxed, outclassed and outhustled in route to a lopsided defeat. His chances remain slim to move forward in the super middleweight tournament.
On the other end of the fight spectrum, Josh Bryant lost his official UFC debut to Kyle Noke on The Ultimate Fighter Finale in Las Vegas.
Bryant was given a three-fight contract following his stint on TUF Season 11. However, the UFC can void the contract at any time. Hopefully, he gets another crack inside the Octagon.
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