7:30 PM ET, June 19, 2009
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
The Detroit Shock will continue their latest title defense without the coach that guided them to each of their three WNBA championships. A meeting with the Indiana Fever might make that transition a little easier.In their first game since Bill Laimbeer's resignation, the Shock look to continue their dominance of the Fever as the clubs open a home-and-home series Friday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.Laimbeer stepped down as Detroit's coach and general manager Monday in hopes of landing a job in the NBA. A two-time NBA champion with the Pistons, he took over the Shock in 2002 and led them to three titles in six years before his unexpected resignation three games into the season."It's time for me to be doing something else," he said at a news conference. "I want to coach in the NBA, and I think it was not fair to the Shock to try to coach them while my focus and passion were somewhere else. I don't have another job, but it is something I want to explore. Whether it is a head coaching job or something as an assistant, that's what I want to do."Laimbeer said he has not interviewed with any NBA club. He'll be replaced on the bench by former Pistons teammate and Shock assistant Rick Mahorn. Cheryl Reeve will remain an assistant and become the general manager."It hasn't hit me yet," said Mahorn, in his fifth season with the team. "I suppose it will hit me on Friday when we play Indiana. We knew this situation might arise someday, and we're ready to take it on. This is going to be full speed ahead."Mahorn's confidence might stem from Detroit's recent success against Indiana. The Shock (1-2) have eliminated the Fever (2-2) from the playoffs each of the last three years. Detroit is 13-6 against Indiana since the start of the 2006 season, including a 9-2 mark at The Palace.The Shock don't see any reason why their championship form won't continue under Mahorn."It doesn't change a whole lot," guard Katie Smith, last year's finals MVP, said of the coaching change. "The philosophy, the style there will be little tweaks here and there but in general the same kind of m.o. goes. They've learned a lot from each other and everybody has their own personality, but I really don't think things are going to change drastically. Just kind of getting used to the new vibe and keep this thing going."While the transition on the bench doesn't appear to bother them, the Shock might be more concerned that they're still without key post players Cheryl Ford (knee), Plenette Pierson (shoulder) and Kara Braxton (suspension). Those absences were key factors in the team's latest game, a 75-69 loss to Washington last Wednesday.The Fever have won back-to-back games after dropping their first two of 2009. They went 9-for-20 from 3-point range in a 73-61 win over Los Angeles last Friday. They're the only team to make nine 3s in a game this year, and they've done it twice."It's nothing new," forward Ebony Hoffman said after scoring a team-high 14 points and going 2 for 2 from behind the arc Friday. "This team likes getting the ball to the 3-point line."