Shock-Liberty Preview


Skylar Diggins has yet to experience a victory, while Bill Laimbeer suffered a defeat in his return to WNBA coaching.

Both will try again to earn their first win Friday night as Laimbeer's New York Liberty host Diggins and the Tulsa Shock.

With Laimbeer coaching his first regular-season game in four years - he led the then-Detroit Shock from 2002-2009 - New York lost 81-69 at Connecticut on Saturday.

Reigning All-WNBA first-team selection Cappie Pondexter scored 23 points, including 16 in the first half as the Liberty led by two at the break. But New York was outscored 25-14 in the third.

"It's just basketball," said Laimbeer, a former Coach of the Year and three-time league champion as well as a four-time NBA All Star. "I've been a part of thousands of games. It's just another one. Our brain wasn't there for the whole game. The effort was there but we just let the game get away in the second half."

Despite bringing in the heralded Diggins from Notre Dame with the third overall pick in April's draft, the Shock are 0-2. Diggins is off to a slow start, averaging 12.0 points on just 28.6 percent shooting with 14 assists and nine turnovers.

Opponents are averaging 96.5 points on 49.6 percent shooting after a 95-90 home loss to Washington in overtime on Monday, though Tulsa was short-handed. Candice Wiggins and Nicole Powell missed the game against the Mystics and are uncertain to play Friday.

Wiggins, in her first season with the Shock after being traded from Minnesota, sprained her ankle in the team's 98-81 loss at Atlanta last Friday. Powell has yet to play this season due to a knee issue.

Tiffany Jackson-Jones was also sidelined with a stress fracture to her right tibia and is expected to miss the season's first three weeks.

"Fatigue set in in overtime. We're down to eight players. That hurt us," coach Gary Kloppenburg said. "Not having Candice out there defensively hurt us. We started two rookies and a very, very young team. I was very proud of their effort."

Roneeka Hodges scored a team-high 22 points against Washington, tying a career best with six 3-pointers on nine attempts, and is 9 for 14 from long range on the season.

Both teams will look to take better care of the basketball. Tulsa is averaging 18.5 turnovers, while New York gave the ball away 16 times against Connecticut.

"We have a week to get more in sync," Liberty guard Katie Smith said. "We had too many turnovers tonight. It will come."

New York has won five of six meetings since Tulsa moved from Detroit in 2010. They split two meetings last year, each winning at home as Pondexter averaged 15.5 points and 5.0 assists.