Kathy McConnell-Miller Happy to Join Shock

GTR Sports Writer

NEW STAFF: Kathy McConnell-Miller, center, has joined assistant coach Tracy Murray, left, and head coach Teresa Edwards, right, to form the new Tulsa Shock coaching staff. The three hope to turn around the fortunes of Tulsa’s WNBA team.

HARRY LENTZ for GTR Newspapers

Kathy McConnell-Miller says she’s finally come home to Tulsa. And with her return comes the major task of trying to transform the Tulsa Shock franchise into a winner.

McConnell-Miller spent six years at the University of Tulsa rebuilding the program after the school reinstituted women’s basketball in the 1990s. The reward for her success was a job at the University of Colorado. Following five years of ups and downs in Boulder, the veteran collegiate coach found herself out of a job.

“At that moment, nothing really felt right for me and I took a year off and spent time with my three children, all born in Tulsa,’’ says McConnell-Miller. “No doubt the Colorado job helped me grow as a coach. Anytime you have that experience coaching against some of the best teams and players in the country, it’s a positive.

“I think it helped me prioritize a little better because my prioritizing today is a lot different. When I left Tulsa, at the moment I had the desire to be in one of the best conferences in the country (Big 12). Tulsa was a strong foundation for me and it was a great place to start and a great place to be. I realized that Tulsa had all the resources for me to be successful.’’

Little did McConnell-Miller realize that her full circle odyssey would come the way it did. Popular Tulsa icon Nolan Richardson was fired as head coach of the Shock in July with Teresa Edwards promoted to interim coach from the front office. Despite Edwards’ Olympic playing experience, she had never been a coach before.

“When Edwards was elevated to head coach, I reached out to her,’’ says McConnell-Miller. “I’ve known her personally as a player and coach, and she coached my sister at the Minnesota Lynx. I picked up the phone. It was a win-win situation and a great opportunity.’’

While enjoying her time back in Tulsa, McConnell-Miller and Edwards are trying to reshape the Shock into a winning organization. As of mid-August, the team stood 7-50 since joining the last year. Just 1-22 this season, the Shock lost their league record-tying 17th straight game at Minnesota on Aug. 15. Regardless, there is nowhere McConnell-Miller would rather be.

“I love it here. I love coach T,’’ she says. “I like the organization and it has helped me along in this transition. It’s tremendous working with the players and I’ve had great response from them on the floor and off. It’s a great balance.

“I think we can play a better combination inside and outside and we can be more consistent through the end of the quarters. We’ve consistently had one or two bad quarters that get us in a hole and we have to fight back. We’ve got to change our mentality when the game’s on the line and make the right decisions. We need to challenge them (players) and work with them individually so we can learn to win games.’’

Despite the losses piling up, the coach said she sees progress in her players. She said the franchise is in Tulsa for the long haul and won’t settle for losing season after season.

“No question we’re starting to play to our strengths,” says McConnell-Miller. “We are improving in a lot of areas and our defense is far more focused. We’re taking teams out of what they’re trying to do and holding them to a lower field goal percentage.
“Tulsa is a championship city and I know the organization is committed to that. The coaches and players are committed to that. I love it here and I’m happy to be at this level. Tulsa is where I want to be.’’

Updated 08-31-2011

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