Long-time basketball fans may remember Nolan Richardson as the University of Arkansas men's basketball coach who led the Razorbacks to back to back championship games in 1994 and 1995, winning it all in 1994.
Now he brings his "40 Minutes of Hell" system to the Tulsa Shock, who will host the Seattle Storm today at 1 pm.
However, after suffering only two losing seasons in just over 20 years of coaching men's college basketball, the Shock's season has been a new experience: after starting 3-3 the Shock have dropped seven straight games sending them straight to the Western Conference cellar. That might seem to bode well for the 12-2 Storm who are rolling after a physical win against the Indiana Fever. Yet bear in mind that during the pre-season, the Shock's pressure defense did cause the Storm some problems, as described by Kevin Pelton of StormBasketball.com:
This is the Storm's first regular-season game against the Tulsa Shock, but the team did get some experience with Tulsa's style during the preseason. A 90-80 loss at the BOK Center definitely provided some lessons, as the Storm turned the ball over 33 times. Part of that was the nature of the preseason - Tanisha Wright started having not even practiced with the team - but the Storm did show a learning curve during the game, curbing the turnovers with the first unit in the game during the third quarter before it was turned over to young players and invitees.
In the Storm's two losses, turnovers were among the biggest problems, so it's something to watch for. However, the Storm's frontline has consistently overwhelmed opponents on the boards, particularly Storm forward Lauren Jackson who had a field day against the Indiana Fever, as described on SBN's Swish Appeal:
Jackson only missed two shots all game. They came during that third quarter. Both came on second (or fourth, as the case me be) chance shots after offensive rebounds. She did add to her point total with a free throw after an odd technical foul was called on Fever guard Shavonte Zellous.
So hard fought third quarter aside, Jackson scored 27 points on 9-9 shooting, 4-4 from three point land, and shot 6-6 from the free throw line. As though that weren't enough she added 4 offensive rebounds and 2 blocks.
That's just ridiculous.
And that ridiculousness comes before even getting to the full extent of what Jackson did defensively.
Regardless of whether Richardson's system works in the WNBA, this game will be more about the Shock finding a way to contend with the Storm's talented personnel.