Richardson resigns as Shock coach
TULSA, Okla. (AP)
Nolan Richardson resigned as coach and general manager of the WNBA-worst Tulsa Shock and will be replaced on an interim basis by Teresa Edwards.
David Box, one of the team's owners, confirmed early Saturday morning that Richardson had stepped down after going 7-38 in just over one season as coach of the Shock. Tulsa started this season 1-10 and lost 86-78 to Phoenix on Friday night in Richardson's final game in charge.
''While I am saddened to leave the Tulsa Shock at this time and in this manner, I am also very disappointed in the way we have started the year, and as coach, I accept my share of the responsibility,'' Richardson said in a statement released by the team.
Richardson led Arkansas to an NCAA men's championship and was lured out of retirement for his first endeavor as a women's coach, in the city where he helped build the men's program at the University of Tulsa.
He attempted to adapt his trademark ''40 Minutes of Hell'' style to the WNBA game, but it didn't immediately take with a roster stripped down when several All-Stars refused to make the move from Detroit with the franchise.
''I will be forever thankful for the unique opportunity (owners) Bill (Cameron) and David (Box) and the entire ownership group gave me to re-enter coaching basketball, something I love to do and missed dearly,'' Richardson said. ''I love Tulsa. This community has always been good to me and for me.''
Richardson said he wished Edwards, one of his assistants, and his players well and he will ''forever be one of the Tulsa Shock's biggest fans.''
Edwards, an Olympic gold medalist who will go into the basketball hall of fame next month, will make her debut in charge on Sunday in a rematch against the Mercury.
''Teresa knows our team well and the players respect her management, leadership and passion for the game,'' Box said. ''Her credentials are strong and she knows what it takes to succeed. She will serve as the Tulsa Shock's interim coach for the remainder of the season.''
Edwards said she learned a lot about basketball and life from Richardson in a short time and she considers him ''a winner in every aspect both as a coach and a citizen.''
''Even though the circumstances are not what I would prefer to become a head coach, I appreciate the opportunity I have been given to coach the Shock on an interim basis,'' Edwards said. ''We have work to do and we are going to start right now.''
A frustrated Elizabeth Cambage, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft, was eager for a change and said after the game that ''it's disgusting being 1-10.''
''People keep saying, `There's change coming. There's change coming.' Well, I don't see any change really,'' Cambage said before Richardson resigned. ''We've changed a few players. Where's the change?''
Now, she'll be moving on with a change at the top.
''We want to win quick,'' team president Steve Swetoha said during the game. ''We do want to be sustainable. We can't afford to keep having losing seasons.
''We're ahead of our season-ticket base by 20 percent, and can you imagine when we start winning games the amount of people that will now be more interested in coming out. You look at our record. We're 1-8, 1-9. Now, do I want to spend my discretionary income to do this?''
Swetoha said the Shock, now playing in one of the league's smallest markets, need to draw at least 5,000 to 6,000 fans per game to be sustainable and they've been falling short of that goal too often since selling out the home opener.
''I think winning breeds success, success breeds winning,'' Swetoha said. ''We've got to win to be successful here. That's a big part of it. We didn't build our budgets to have losing teams.''
AP freelance writer Lynn Jacobsen contributed to this report.