Tulsa Shock head coach and general manager Nolan Richardson is resigning from his coaching duties. Assistant Coach Teresa Edwards will take over as interim head coach, but no information is known on Richardson's status as GM of the franchise at this point.
In Richardson's tenure with the Shock, Tulsa put together a 7-38 overall record and finished seven games out of the Western Conference playoff race in 2010. With Friday's close loss to Phoenix, Tulsa is riding a five game losing streak heading into a two-game road swing that begins in Phoenix on Sunday.
"While I am saddened to leave the Tulsa Shock at this time and in this manner, I am also very disappointed in the way we have started the year, and as coach, I accept my share of the responsibility," Richardson said of his decision. "I respect our organization and players. This is a class group of individuals who are committed to this community, organization and players. I will be forever thankful for the unique opportunity Bill and David and the entire ownership group gave me to re-enter coaching basketball, something I love to do and missed dearly.
"I love Tulsa. This community has always been good to me and for me. I want to especially thank my players for allowing me the honor to coach them in the WNBA where the finest women athletes in the world compete. I want to also wish Coach Edwards the very best moving ahead. She's a top notch person. Please know that I will forever be one of the Tulsa Shock's biggest fans."
After a valiant comeback effort Friday against the Mercury, the timing of the apparent decision by Richardson is odd. The Shock cut an 18-point deficit down to seven with 7:16 to play in the ballgame. Tulsa kept the margin at seven through the two-minute mark, but fell in defeat 86-78, moving to 1-10 on the season.
Teresa Edwards is taking the helm after entering this season as her first year assisting the Shock.
"In a short period of time, Coach Richardson taught me a lot about basketball and life," Edwards remarked. "He was always gracious to me and he was passionate about the game and his players. He considered his players family and he worked hard all time to make everyone around him better. As the Shock improves, Coach Richardson will always be part of the progress.
"While the record may not bear it out today, he is a winner in every aspect both as a coach and a citizen. I want to personally thank him and wish him the best. Even though the circumstances are not what I would prefer to become a head coach, I appreciate the opportunity I have been given to coach the Shock on an interim basis. We have work to do and we are going to start right now."
The decision to make the move right now is curious, considering the fact that nothing specifically on the court in tonight's game pointed to the change. Also, the Shock have been off for a week and the all-star break is upcoming, so the rationale for resigning after this close loss is somewhat unexpected, but the pressure on Richardson has been building in recent days.