What’s the Seattle Storm’s Bar for Success in 2018?

Where do you realistically set expectations for a team coming off back-to-back playoff appearances but still hasn’t had a winning season since 2011?

“It’s time to start winning,” Breanna Stewart said during the Storm’s media day, per the Seattle TimesPercy Allen. “I don’t want to come off as crass or cocky or anything like that, but losing sucks. It does. That’s just how I feel about it. And, no, I won’t ever get used to it. I can’t. That’s not how I’m wired.”

The Storm certainly intimated as much, too, when they hired Dan Hughes. They could’ve opted for a first-year head coach who would need a few seasons to grow into the role. Instead, Seattle chose a 16-year veteran who has the third-most wins (237) of any coach in WNBA history.

It’s not a title-or-bust kind of season for the Storm, but 18-20 wins are probably the minimum requirement to avoid another disappointing campaign.

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Storm Play It Safe Again by Hiring Dan Hughes

Nothing screams excitement more than hiring a coach you coaxed out of retirement.

That’s exactly what the Seattle Storm did when they announced Dan Hughes as their next head coach, which the Associated Press Doug Feinberg reported late Tuesday night. The team confirmed the hiring Wednesday.

“In conversations with Alisha and the Storm ownership group, it quickly became evident that this was a good fit,” Hughes said in the Storm’s official press release. “Beyond the incredible talent Seattle has on its roster, I am very excited to have the loyal fan base supporting us. In watching the team over the years, coaching against Storm teams, it’s been clear that the fans in Seattle create an advantageous home court at KeyArena and have been a huge part of the evolution of their storied success.”

It’s easy to see the Storm’s reasoning in selecting Hughes.

The 62-year-old boasts a wealth of experience in the WNBA, having coached the most games (524) in league history. His 237 wins are third only to Mike Thibault and Brian Agler as well. Over a career spanning 16 years and three franchises, Hughes led his team to the playoffs on 10 occasions, including a WNBA Finals appearance with the San Antonio Stars in 2008, where the Stars got swept by the Detroit Shock.

Plus, he’s an Ohio native, like Agler—M-Town represent—which is always an admirable quality. In fact, you know who else is from Ohio and would’ve been a great fit? Katie Smith, but we’ll get to that in a little bit. Continue reading

Under What Circumstances—If Any—Should the Interim Tag Come off Gary Kloppenburg?

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 9.01.27 PMWhen the Seattle Storm announced Gary Kloppenburg would replace Jenny Boucek as head coach, it was seemingly a stopgap move to get the team through to the end of the season, at which point general manager and team president Alisha Valavanis could launch a full coaching search.

Since Kloppenburg assumed the reins, though, the Storm are 4-1. Whereas missing out on the playoffs seemed a genuine threat, Seattle is comfortably inside the top eight and looking like a dangerous matchup in the first round. And with each win, the case to make Kloppenburg the permanent replacement grows stronger.

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Hoisted by Her Own Petard

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A visual representation of Jenny Boucek turning in her KeyArena ID and Starbucks Rewards card at Storm HQ.

I started working on this before going to work Thursday afternoon, and while I was working, the Seattle Storm went ahead and fired Jenny Boucek, naming Gary Kloppenburg as the interim replacement.

As a result, this transformed from an another airing of grievances with the Storm’s direction into a treatise about what went wrong for Boucek.

During a 2017 season that has been disappointing in virtually every facet for the Seattle Storm, the team’s lack of offensive adventure is one of the most underwhelming aspects and arguably most justified Boucek’s firing. Continue reading

The Storm Kick the Can Down the Road

The Seattle Storm maintained the status quo through the WNBA trade deadline, failing to capitalize on their last opportunity reinvigorate what has been an underwhelming 2017 season.

One can understand general manager Alisha Valavanis’ desire to avoid being too reactionary following the team’s 10-13 start. Things are bad enough as is; making a shortsighted move would only compound matters.

At the same time, this past weekend demonstrated that something is fundamentally broken with the Storm. Continue reading

These are the Four Most Important Days of the Storm’s 2017 Season

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When you’re trying to make sense of the Storm’s last few days.

The Seattle Storm’s hopes of turning things around in the second half of the season may rest largely on the decision-making of Alisha Valavanis.

The 2017 season hasn’t gone according to plan at all for Seattle. The Storm are ninth in the WNBA with a 9-12 record, and many of the team’s biggest problems from last year have carried over to this season.

Still, few expected Thursday’s bombshell from The Summitt’s Howard Megdal that cast serious doubt on Jenny Boucek’s future with the team.

A vote of confidence from ownership and the front office is often an empty gesture that is eventually undercut by the team’s actions at a later point. With that said, Valavanis didn’t even bother to offer the bare minimum regarding whether management was behind Boucek.

“I would say that I am working closely with our head coach on how we can recalibrate, how we can do everything possible to make a playoff run,” she said to Megdal. “That’s how I feel, and that’s where we’re at. I’m actively working with Jenny to see if we can make any adjustments to calibrate this for a playoff run, which has been set as a very clear goal.”

Short of having security physically carry Boucek out of the office, it’s hard to imagine a more damning response from Valavanis. Continue reading

Should Jenny Boucek Be on the Hot Seat?

Screen Shot 2017-07-25 at 12.08.08 PMJenny Boucek isn’t running for elected office, but Seattle Storm fans may need to start asking the question, are the Storm better off than they were four years ago?

When Boucek replaced Brian Agler in January 2015, the Storm were in need of a rebuild. They finished the 2014 season with a 12-22 record and had been trending downward since winning a title in 2010.

With two of the top three picks in the 2015 draft, Seattle selected Jewell Loyd and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to serve as cornerstones for the rebuilding effort. The Storm proceeded to finish with the second-worst record in the league that season (10-24). The draft was again a source of hope for Seattle since it meant having the opportunity to bring Breanna Stewart aboard. Continue reading