Tom Wolf's DETROIT SHOCK Page for 2008

Season 12 for the league, season 11 for the Shock

"Coach T's Take"

Game 1 on June 4, 2008: "Solo, that's how I roll (ha). I hopped in the Mini Cooper and went to the game by myself. I guess WNBA family time is a distant memory but I still have the love so I'M GOIN'with or without the family units! I sat in the second row right under the basket on the Shock side and watched an exciting, albiet, foul plagued game. At times it looked more like a boxing or wrestling match than it did a basketball game. But hey, the end justifies the means and the Shock got the W. Lauren Jackson did nothing to persuade me from my opinion that she is the greatest female baller on the planet even though Katie was the stud on this night tallying 33. Katie is a great player, one of the all time greatest no doubt, but at 6'5" Jackson can do pretty much everything on both ends of the court. Mark my words Australia is going to be tough when the Olympics roll around. Next road trip will be in late July to get my first look at Candice Parker, the new face of the WNBA."

Smith Leads Shock Past Storm
Posted Jun 4 2008 11:31PM

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., June 4 (AP) -- Katie Smith will have several reasons to fondly remember her 34th birthday.

The Detroit Shock All-Star was presented with her U.S. Olympic team jersey before the game, then scored a season-high 33 points in a 77-67 victory over the Seattle Storm Wednesday.

"I didn't want to go home with a loss on my birthday,'' said Smith, who hadn't scored more than 28 points since joining the Shock in 2005. "I just didn't hit enough shots to get 34 points on my 34th birthday.''

Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer played Smith for the entire game, then joked that he thought she had fallen short of her milestone.

"I played her all 40 minutes so she could try to score 40 points,'' he said. "She did turn 40 today, right?''

The Shock (6-1) stayed unbeaten at home.

"I thought we might start 2-10, given our injuries and lack of practice time, so I'm very happy to be 6-1,'' Laimbeer said. "We've still got a lot to learn about utilizing our bench, but we've been better than I expected.''

Seattle lost for the second straight night after a 5-1 start, but got 27 points from Lauren Jackson.

"We're not going to make excuses - we had a chance to come in here and win the game, and we didn't do it,'' Seattle coach Brian Agler said. "Katie Smith had a great game and Detroit had a little more to offer than we did tonight.''

Swin Cash had 10 points in her first game against Detroit. The 2004 Olympian played her first five seasons with the Shock, winning two titles, before being traded to the Storm after feuding with Laimbeer.

"It was weird going to the visiting locker room - I stepped off the bus and went to the left before I caught myself,'' said Cash, who was warmly greeted by the small Palace crowd. "Once the ball tipped off, it was OK.''

Deanna Nolan added 14 points for the Shock and Cheryl Ford had eight points and 11 rebounds. Both players have played all season through injuries - Nolan sprained her ankle while playing in Russia and Ford is still recovering from last season's knee injury.

"You have to give Tweety and Cheryl all the credit in the world for playing when they are thing banged up,'' Smith said. "That's why it is a pleasant surprise to be 6-1.''

The Storm led 23-13 early in the second quarter, but Detroit finished the period with a 25-10 surge to take a five-point edge.

The Shock moved the advantage to double figures - 47-37 - early in the third, helped by a technical foul on Sue Bird.

Seattle pulled within 70-67 on two Jackson free throws with 2:10 left, but Smith answered with a 3-pointer and Detroit hung on.

Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace attended the game, sitting under the basket near the Seattle bench.

More Game 1 Pictures

"Coach T's Take"

Game 2 on July 22, 2008: "This game was exciting with a capital E. The Shock got down by 20 yearly then chipped away and actually pulled within 1 point late before falling to L.A. There certainly was no love lost between these two teams. Late in the game rookie of the year and possible MVP candidate Candice Parker tangled up with Plenette and the two went crashing to the floor. A bench clearing brawl errupted. In the end Parker, Pierson, Milton-Jones, and Coach Mahorn were all given the boot. What a mess but to tell you the truth the whole thing could have been avoided if the officials had been calling over the back. Lisa Leslie finished the game with 4 or 5 fouls but in reality I saw her climb Shock players all night long. Anyone watching a replay of the game will see that she could have easily had 10 or 12 fouls. I guess poor officiating is more the standard these days than the exception."

An Unpleasant Ending
Posted July 22, 2008

It should have been a WNBA classic, an epic battle of former champions. It could have been one of the greatest comebacks in Detroit Shock history. It will be remembered as neither. What will overshadow and stain the Sparks’ 84-81 victory at The Palace Tuesday night - and, the players, coaches and officials who were part of it, though exactly how remains to be seen - is a version of the following unfortunate sequence with 5.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter: The arms of Candace Parker and Plenette Pierson entangled after a Sparks free throw. Both bodies crashing to the floor. The clock stopping at 4.6 seconds. Pierson walking toward a semi-prone Parker. Another collision between the two sinewy bodies, then a maddening convergence of Shock white and Sparks purple.

Amidst perhaps the largest on-court fracas in league history, Shock assistant coach Rick Mahorn put his hands on Lisa Leslie, who fell to the floor. Leslie’s teammate, DeLisha Milton-Jones, took umbrage to Mahorn’s involvement, hitting Mahorn in the back. When the momentary fury subsided, Cheryl Ford laid on the ground, untouched by a Sparks player. In her attempt to restrain Pierson, Ford’s right knee had buckled. Just two minutes earlier, Ford had secured a defensive rebound and fell to the ground, grabbing the same knee - which is not the left knee that she had surgically repaired in September. Ford was carted off the floor in a wheelchair. Pierson, Parker, Mahorn and Milton-Jones soon followed, all ejected. When the game resumed following a lengthy delay, Katie Smith hit a three that made it an 82-81 game with 2.3 seconds remaining. But L.A. got to the foul line, made two free throws, and time ran out on a game that couldn’t end soon enough.

Smith had 20 points and five assists to lead the Shock, and Deanna Nolan added 14 points. Nolan also picked up one of the two technical fouls assessed following the fourth-quarter incident. “That’s pretty rare, it only happens maybe once every blue moon,” Smith said of the altercation. “I haven’t seen something like that, per se, I don’t think in my whole career.” Smith’s career is pretty lengthy, which is why she’s the all-time leading scorer in U.S. history. She took that title from Leslie, who missed last season after childbirth. The 6-foot-5 center is a three-time WNBA MVP and one of its most prominent stars. She told ESPN after the game she couldn’t understand why a Detroit coach was touching L.A. players. Mahorn, responded that, in the heat of battle, he was trying to separate the players that were near him, regardless of their jersey. “I was trying to protect the whole game, the integrity of the game,” Mahorn told ESPN after the game. “The WNBA is very special to me because I have four daughters. I don’t even raise my hand to them, and I would never push a woman. This game, I love this game too much.”

Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer defended his longtime colleague, well aware that the “Bad Boys” moniker that has made them the WNBA’s most celebrated coaching tandem can only put them in an unfair light at a time like this. “Rick Mahorn is known as a peacemaker, from even the brawl we had here with Indiana,” Laimbeer said, referring to the Pistons-Pacers brawl on Nov. 19, 2004. “He went out there to get people off the pile, and to get people to stop the confrontation. That’s who he is, that’s what he does.” Laimbeer said he warned referee Denise Brooks Clauser that bad blood was brewing even before the fourth quarter. “I think the game was getting out of hand physical-wise, and I warned Denise about that, and she gave me a warning, which was kind of different,” Laimbeer said. “But I warned them that, you know, ‘Watch it’ but it started to escalate and players can get emotional and it happens sometimes. It’s unfortunate but it happens.” The chippy play was most evident between Ford and Parker, who took exception to Ford’s physicality on several instances in the second half. Tempers finally flared with 8.3 seconds left, when the two exchanged harsh words. The encounter seemed to rattle the rookie, Parker. With L.A. ahead 80-78, she missed both free throws, but the second rebound ricocheted to Sparks guard Marie Ferdinand-Harris. Her trip to the foul line set up the ugliness that would ensue.

“I don't even recall what happened - I'll have to look at the tape,” said Parker, who scored 10 of her team-high 21 points in the first quarter. “I don't really remember any of it.” Regrettably, YouTube and ESPN will give her ample chances to refresh her memory. What truly will be forgotten is that the Shock rallied from a 21-point deficit. As they had in the first home loss this past Sunday against the Sacramento, the Shock (16-9) fell apart in the late first and early second quarters. The Sparks scored 14 unanswered points, blowing open a 23-19 lead. Detroit missed 11 shots in a row, going scoreless for more than seven minutes. The Sparks hold opponents to a league-low 38.9 percent from the field. When the Shock couldn’t make L.A. work just as hard for their points - they shot 60.7 percent in the first half - the Sparks opened a 42-21 lead. “You look back at the game, we dug ourselves in a hole in the first half, didn’t come out defensively ready to play,” Smith said. “I mean, yeah, they shot the ball well; we didn’t necessarily deter them. You look at it basketball-wise, two games straight now we’ve given up a lot of points in the first half and that’s something we’ve got to fix.”

The Shock went on a 10-1 run to close the gap, drawing within 48-34 at halftime. Then, as they did Sunday, Detroit went on a fourth-quarter tear. Ford made two free throws with 2:24 left to make it a one-point game, 76-75. Twenty-two seconds later, Ford crumpled to the floor in front of the Shock bench. She returned to the game, but was clearly hobbled. Though the game ended in disturbing fashion, Laimbeer sounded most grave when asked about Ford’s right knee. “Cheryl’s hurt, and we’re concerned,” he said.

The many faces of Candice!!

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