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Sports

September 4, 2013

Goodrich returns home as part of Shock practice

TAHLEQUAH - Angel Goodrich’s basketball timeline came full circle on Tuesday. She returned to the place that launched her hoops career into the next stratosphere.

With her Tulsa Shock teammates in tow, Goodrich was the main attraction in front of 750 fans at The Place Where They Play at Sequoyah High School. She was there to do what she had done so many times in the past: play basketball.

“Any time I come down here, it’s a great feeling,” said Goodrich, the former Sequoyah standout that led the Lady Indians to three state championships from 2005 to 2007.

“This is probably where it started, so it was great to come back and play in the old gym, especially getting to do it with my new teammates.”

Instead of her old Sequoyah colleagues (Lorin Hammer, Cassie Moore, Mariah Norwood), Goodrich was back in Tahlequah with a new set of running mates. Skylar Diggins, Glory Johnson, Courtney Paris and Riquna Williams were all in attendance as Tulsa put on a hour-plus practice.

Goodrich was on hand when the Shock practiced at Sequoyah in 2012, and at that time, she figured there would be no way she would be a part of the entertainment a year later.

“I had no idea,” said Goodrich, who, at this time last year, was preparing to take the University of Kansas on another Sweet 16 run during her senior year.

“Last year, it was neat to come out here and see that (the Shock) came down here and was able to have time to come to a school like this. Then to be a part of it this year, it was great. It was exciting.”

Adding to Goodrich’s enjoyment this time around was a pre-practice presentation. It was revealed that the Shock point guard would be inducted into the Sequoyah Alumni Hall of Fame.

“That was really special,” Goodrich said. “I didn’t even know they had a Hall of Fame for Sequoyah, so that was just really neat. I’d like to find out more about it, and I’m actually excited to be inducted.”

Before that, though, Goodrich has four more games to complete in her rookie season in the WNBA. And what a season it’s been.

After being drafted in the third round — and 29th overall — in April, Goodrich had to compete for a roster spot in training camp. Once she did that, it was a matter of gaining playing time, finding time to contribute behind Skylar Diggins — who was the Shock’s third overall pick.

Not only did Goodrich do that, but she also capitalized once Diggins went down with an injury. Goodrich was inserted into the starting lineup, and it was a decision Shock coach Gary Kloppenburg made with ease.

“She had always done a pretty good job coming off the bench,” Kloppenburg said. “Then when Diggins sprained her ankle, (Goodrich) got in there, and then we won a couple of games. Then we didn’t change it back, so it’s been working out pretty well.”

Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind for Goodrich during her first year as a professional.

“It’s been a growing-up experience,” Goodrich said. “In college, you had people around you who were kind of there for you. Now you have to grow up, take care of yourself and be responsible.”

In 27 games this season, Goodrich has averaged 4.3 points and 2.8 assists per game. She’s also made 13 starts for the Shock — which has been eliminated from postseason contention.

But more valuable to Tulsa than Goodrich’s points or assists are her lack of turnovers. She is only handing the ball over 1.5 times per game.

“She’s added a lot of stability to our backcourt,” Kloppenburg said of Goodrich. “She gets the ball to people and  she doesn’t turn the ball over. She’s done a really nice job. She’s been a real pleasant surprise.”

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