The Seattle Storm earned their first win of the 2018 season Wednesday night against the Phoenix Mercury, beating the Mercury 87-71 on the road.
Jewell Loyd was the game’s leading scorer, dropping 29 points on 9-of-14 shooting. She was also a perfect 10-of-10 from the charity stripe. Loyd’s big night helped offset an uneven performance from Breanna Stewart, who narrowly missed out on a double-double (nine points, 11 rebounds) but had four turnovers and shot 3-of-12.
Defensively, the Storm did well to limit Phoenix’s supporting cast. Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi had 18 and 23 points, respectively, but DeWanna Bonner (nine points) was the team’s next-highest scorer.
A little over eight months after their 2017 season ended at the hands of the Phoenix Mercury, the Seattle Storm will open their 2018 campaign at home May 20 against Phoenix.
Before that, the Storm and Mercury will meet twice for a pair of preseason games in May.
To some extent, Seattle’s disappointing first-round playoff exit may benefit the team this year. The Storm could be the biggest post-hype sleeper in the WNBA.
Mechelle Voepel of espnW.com and Brian Martin of WNBA.com both listed Seattle at No. 5 in their preseason power rankings in 2017. Expectations were high, and the Storm got fans even more excited with a 4-1 start to the regular season. Then came a humbling 100-77 defeat to the Minnesota Lynx at KeyArena, and things were never the same for Seattle.
No WNBA team may face more pressure to upgrade this offseason than the Seattle Storm. There are no more excuses should the Storm fail to at least earn a home game in the opening round of the playoffs.
Heading into the 2017 campaign, both espnW.com’s Mechelle Voepel and WNBA.com’s Brian Martin ranked Seattle fifth in their preseason power rankings.
But the 2017 season was nothing short of a disaster. Firing Jenny Boucek in the middle of the year provided momentary relief, but it couldn’t prevent the seemingly inevitable first-round exit—this time at the hands of the Phoenix Mercury.
It was a fitting coda to a disappointing year. Brittney Griner had 23 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, while the Storm scored 19 points outside of their big three (Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird). All season long, Seattle struggled to guard elite post scorers, and the team’s lack of depth behind Stewart, Loyd and Bird was glaring.
More of the same in 2018 would mean wasting another year of Stewart and Loyd’s development—as well as what’s left of Bird’s playing career. It shouldn’t be a stretch to say general manager/team president Alisha Valavanis should also be out of a job. At some point, the front office has to point to more than just selecting Loyd and Stewart first overall in 2015 and 2016.
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 →
The Seattle Storm didn’t match the Washington Mystics’ level of aggression this offseason in terms of improving the roster, but the front office sent a message with the acquisition of Carolyn Swords.
The Storm sent the sixth and 18th overall selections to the Mystics in January, receiving Swords and the 15th overall pick.
The 27-year-old addressed what was a glaring need for Seattle. Last year, the Storm often played 6’2″ Crystal Langhorne alongside 6’4″ Breanna Stewart, which left the rookie forward exposed against bigger frontcourt opponents. Continue reading →