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Welcome to the WNBA, Tulsa! Minnesota Lynx @ Tulsa Shock season opener

This will be tonight's game thread, as I will be reporting live from the BOK. Please also see our 2010 WNBA Opening Day Thread and our Atlanta vs. San Antonio preview.

Who: Minnesota Lynx @ Tulsa Shock

What: Inaugural game of the Tulsa Shock and opener in the 2010 season

Where: BOK Center - downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma

When: 7:00 p.m., central standard time


The Story: Will it work?

Head coach Nolan Richardson is bringing his system of forty minutes of hell to a new arena. After coaching in various levels of men's basketball and seeing success with his style, today marks a series of firsts for the storied coach. His debut in the WNBA, his first regular season action as a coach of women, and not just women, but professional basketball players.

Many analysts and fans of the game seem to think that his hellish system will not work in the WNBA, with some pegging the Shock for last place in not only the Western Conference, but the league.

"I think he better have a conversation with Rick Pitino because 40 minutes of hell didn’t work with the Boston Celtics," said Texas A&M University coach Gary Blair in a Here’s the difference in the pros: the men are playing a seven month season, the girls are going to Europe to make their real money. And they are not into pressin’ full court for the whole ballgame. You’re playing 34 games, plus playoffs, in a three month period whereas college we’re playing in a five month period. And the wear and tear on your body, I think kids would break down if you did it for the long haul. I’m sure it will be tweaked – like I used to press all the time too, but I don’t press full blast all the time. I think you just gotta tweak it and I’m sure Nolan’s smart enough to figure out what’s gonna work for him and he doesn’t need my advice but he might wanna listen to Pitino.

But some of his fellow coaches are not so fast to dismiss this new face and different style.

In the preseason conference call for the WNBA, Richardson's newest colleagues weighed in on his ability to achieve success. Corey Gaines, head coach of the defending champion Phoenix Mercury, who has also been pegged as and embraces his niche as a system coach commented, "I have a lot of respect for Richardson, him being another system type of coach".

Mike Thibault of the Connecticut Sun, who participated in a draft day trade with the Shock, remarked on Tulsa's athleticism. "They all have upside . . . they're all good athletes," he said. This Richardson-created roster "should be able to play the way that he wants to play".

Indiana Fever head coach Lin Dunn also pointed out the team's athletic makeup and said she was "curious if he feels that he's got enough depth to play, what is it - forty minutes of hell - night after night, back to back, traveling all over America. Because if he does, we better watch out."

And the Shock's first opponent, the Minnesota Lynx's Cheryl Reeve, sounds confident that it can work. "[I] absolutely believe that the system can work, whether it's male or female," Reeve said. When Richardson gets the right team around him, "there's no question, it's going to be successful."

Reeve remarked, "it's really going to be interesting".

Yes it is. Tonight we'll see just how interesting it can get.