AUBURN HILLS – The Detroit Shock have started the 2005 WNBA season off strong. An exhibition win and some new blood from draft picks are good signs for a team trying to reclaim its 2003 championship title.
No doubt the Shock’s lesbian fans, who have been with the team from the beginning, will be cheering them all the way. And now LGBT fans have a chance to see their favorite team play and benefit the Triangle Foundation/Motor City Pride at the same time. Fans purchasing special advanced tickets to the Shock’s Friday, June 3 game against the New York Liberty will have a portion of their ticket price go toward supporting Motor City Pride.
Stephanie Newman, Triangle’s events coordinator, said the Shock night was the brainchild of Triangle volunteer and community activist Latrice Jackson.
“We’re really excited that she’s stepped up to be a leader in the community to raise money for Motor City Pride,” said Newman. “She’s just done a wonderful job.”
“It’s a chance to go out and see some of the best athletes and have a great time,” added Newman.
The Shock started the season off strong with a win against the Minnesota Lynx at an exhibition game May 7. Elaine Powell scored 11 points to lead the Shock to victory.
Fans will see some new faces this season as well. Last month the Shock signed three-time WNBA All-Star guard Andrea Stinson, one of 11 players who have been with the WNBA since the inaugural season. The 5-foot-11 Stinson played eight seasons with the Charlotte Sting and ranks third in the league with 3,329 career points. She also has 797 assists, 339 steals, and 1,115 rebounds in 254 WNBA games. Last season, she averaged 6.0 points in 34 games with the Sting.
“Andrea Stinson has been one of the WNBA’s premier players since the league’s inaugural season, and she’ll bring another perimeter scoring threat and add some veteran depth to our team,” Shock coach and Detroit Piston’s veteran Bill Laimbeer said.
Stinson is optimistic about playing for the Shock. “Whatever Coach Laimbeer and the coaching staff ask of me, I’m ready to give them,” she told College Sports TV. “If that means coming off the bench, running the break, playing defense, trying to teach some of the younger players what I’ve learned in my years in professional basketball, whatever it is, I’m going to give them.”
Stinson isn’t the only new member of the team. New faces this year include forward Kara Braxton, forward Nikita Bell, and guard Dionnah Jackson. Newly signed Irina Osipova will not play this year. She is having a baby.
According to ESPN.com’s Mechelle Voepel, the Shock did well on draft day this year. “Do the Shock need Kara Braxton when they already have Ruth Riley and Cheryl Ford? Well, Braxton needs time to get into shape, and this gives her that chance,” Voepel wrote. “Detroit’s other first-round pick, Oklahoma’s Dionnah Jackson, is a superb defender who can guard a lot of different kinds of players.”
WNBA President Donna Orender has high hopes for the Shock and much praise for Laimbeer. “We’re fortunate that we have Bill Laimbeer in Detroit, who represents the best,” Orender told The Mercury News, joking that Laimbeer guaranteed the Shock an undefeated season.
Orender also singled out Shock forward Swin Cash. “She’s a bona fide star,” Orender said to The Mercury News. However, according to the Detroit Free Press, Cash is coming off a knee injury and may not be ready to open the season.
Orender said the WNBA is in good shape according to a Detroit News report about her May 11 visit to Detroit. “The league is stable, strong and growing,” she said. The News also reported that the WNBA will be adding a new franchise in Chicago in 2006.
Currently the WNBA has six Eastern Conference teams and seven Western Conference teams. The Finals will be expanded from a best-of-three to a best-of five this season.
The Shock will take on Connecticut during their season opener at the Palace of Auburn Hills May 21 at 1 p.m..
Additional reporting from The Associated Press.
2005 Shock Home Games:
Sun. 5/21 1 p.m. – vs. Connecticut Sun
Tues. 5/24 7:30 p.m. vs. San Antonio Silver Stars
Fri. 6/3 7:30 p.m. vs. New York Liberty
Wed. 6/8 7:30 p.m. vs. Seattle Storm
Fri. 6/10 7:30 p.m. vs. Charlotte Sting
Fri. 6/24 7:30 p.m. vs. Washington Mystics
Sun. 6/26 1 p.m. vs. Los Angeles Sparks
Fri. 7/1 7:30 p.m. vs. Sacramento Monarchs
Tues. 7/5 7:30 p.m. vs. Houston Comets
Sun. 7/17 5 p.m. vs. Indiana Fever
Wed. 7/20 12 p.m. vs. Connecticut Sun
Sun. 7/31 5 p.m. vs. Phoenix Mercury
Sun. 8/7 7 p.m. vs. New York Liberty
Tues. 8/9 7:30 p.m. vs. Charlotte Sting
Thurs. 8/11 7:30 p.m. vs. Minnesota Lynx
Sun. 8/21 5 p.m. vs. Washington Mystic
Thurs. 8/25 7:30 p.m. vs. Indiana Fever
To purchase tickets call the Shock ticket office at 248-377-0100 or visit http://www.wnba.com/shock/tickets.