Even without Liz Cambage, the Tulsa Shock enter the 2014 WNBA season as the league's youngest team. A lot of that youth is showing throughout the early part of the season in their three losses.
All three losses have been by a total of eight points. Only one of those games, season opener against San Antonio, was more than a one possession game.
That's just part of the learning curve that goes with the league, though. You watched as rookie Odyssey Sims threw up a contested 3-pointer as her team mate was open at the top of the key in their loss to San Antonio on Wednesday. Tulsa fell 82-79 after leading by nine points in the contest. The offensive execution of Tulsa has shown signs that this could continue to be a pattern in the future.
*Average age as of 5-30-14
With them being so young, almost a half year younger than the next closest team in the league, there will be plenty of growing pains. However, with the team competing as tough as they are right now, it could set in motion a chain of events that could be the start of something really successful in Tulsa.
We're going to see more close losses. We're going to see plays that make us scratch our head. We'll also see plays and stretches that show how talented this roster is throughout the season. Head Coach Fred Williams, who helped coached the Atlanta Dream into the WNBA Finals, is the perfect man to mold these young ladies into future WNBA stars.
The roster is not short of talent, but the experience is there. Tulsa General Manager Steve Swetoha has put together a young lineup that has quality veterans planted within. Roneeka Hodges and Jennifer Lacy are two complementary pieces that can help teach these young minds. Then you have Tiffany Jackson-Jones, who's out with an injury, but is still a voice in the locker room.
We're watching already as Sims has joined Skylar Diggins in the back court and in their only start, there were great results. Both were open on a lot of possessions due to the defense not being able to guard both. That in turn left Courtney Paris open below the rim, who just thrived. Tulsa settled for the poor shots in the second half, rushing and panicking. We'll see them work and improve as the season continues.
Rookies Jordan Hooper and Theresa Plaisance have shown to be valuable role players already throughout the early part of the season. Hooper was even on the court during the crunch time in the last two games. While neither player is a go-to choice in the final seconds of games, their hard work has helped them get quality minutes.
Don't be surprised though, if you see the Shock take down a really solid team because they just are a more talented team that night. Once they figure out how to play in the crunch time, they're going to be one of the scariest and most exciting teams in the association.
You add in Liz Cambage saying she is going to return to Tulsa next season and she'll add the inside presence that will make Tulsa a force to be reckoned with in the future. Have patience as this season might not be the season where the Shock win the WNBA Championship - it'll be the one where they have put in the foundation for the future