If their early efforts are any indication, the Tulsa Shock appear to be in for another long season.
While the Seattle Storm also are seeking their first victory of 2012, they have to like their chances of coming out on top against the hapless Shock on Friday night at KeyArena.
After going 3-31 last year to set a WNBA record for lowest winning percentage, Tulsa (0-4) has picked up right where it left off.
Seattle (0-3), in contrast, made an eighth consecutive postseason appearance in 2011, but now is on the verge of matching its worst start since opening 0-4 during its inaugural 2000 season.
The Storm, however, seem unlikely to do so given their recent success in this series. Seattle has taken six straight from Tulsa by an average of 17.5 points - including all five matchups last season.
A meeting with the Shock could be just what veteran guard Sue Bird needs to get going. The seven-time All-Star, who posted three 20-point efforts against Tulsa last year, is averaging what would be career lows of 9.0 points and 32.3 percent shooting.
While she dished out a season-high nine assists during Sunday’s 84-71 loss at Minnesota, Bird saw her shooting woes continue, making 2 of 10 attempts to finish with seven points. Despite her struggles, coach Brian Agler doesn’t seem too concerned.
“Oh, we will get her going,” he said. “She’ll be fine. We’re still a team with a lot of new pieces and still improving.”
Originally selected No. 1 overall by the former Cleveland Rockers in 2000, Wauters is averaging team highs of 15.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in her first year back in the league after sitting out the last two.
“We believe in each other. In this locker room, everybody knows that we’ll get better,” Wauters said. “Each day, we will progress and get to know each other better, play better together. At the end of the season we’ll see where we are at. So I mean it is tough losing. Nobody likes it. It’s also being strong in those tough moments and getting better.”
Wauters could be in for a big game against a Tulsa club that’s been outrebounded by 8.0 boards per contest. The Shock’s lack of prowess on the glass proved especially costly Tuesday in a deflating 76-75 loss at Los Angeles.
After the Sparks’ Kristi Toliver got an offensive rebound and cut Tulsa’s lead to two with seven seconds remaining, Karima Christmas missed a pair of free throws before Toliver made a game-winning 3 with one second to go.
“Last possession, rebounds,” said Riquna Williams, who had a game-high 19 points off the bench. “We’ve got to box out. We’re not big, but we just can’t jump up there and get it. We’ve got to find a body.
“It hurts. Teary. Painful. (It’s) emotional but it’s not going to stop us.”