Breaking Down the Storm’s Start to 2019

Stewie PhoneThe Seattle Storm are a little over a quarter of the way through the 2019 WNBA regular season, having compiled a 5-4 record through their first nine games.

Seattle’s hopes of successfully defending its 2018 championship appear slim, but the bar for success changed drastically when Breanna Stewart was lost for the year to a ruptured Achilles. Then came Sue Bird’s knee surgery that has delayed her season debut indefinitely.

Forget winning a title; just reaching the playoffs would be an achievement.

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The Morning After: Jewell B. Loydin’

KML KimbroughNot content to sweep them in the 2018 WNBA Finals, the Seattle Storm continued to torment the Washington Mystics.

The reigning champions outscored Washington 22-8 in the fourth quarter and overcame what was a seven-point deficit in the final three minutes to earn a 74-71 win Friday.

Jewell Loyd delivered the game-winner, hitting a jumper from just past the free-throw line with 7.7 seconds remaining. Loyd had 14 points, three rebounds and two assists in the victory.

Mercedes Russell had a career night, setting personal bests in points (15) and rebounds (11). Natasha Howard matched her double-double, pouring in 19 points and collecting 11 boards.

Elena Delle Donne led the Mystics with 19 points, but only four of those points came in the second half. Kristi Toliver only played 9:28 after getting two quick technical fouls.

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The Morning After: Catch The Fever

Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 8.35.46 AMThe Seattle Storm held on for an 84-82 victory Tuesday night against the Indiana Fever.

A foul on Natalie Achonwa helped decide the outcome as Jewell Loyd made a pair of free throws with 24.4 seconds remaining to put Seattle ahead. Loyd hit another free throw to make it a two-point game with 9.1 seconds left.

Loyd had 18 points, three rebounds four assists and three steals in the win. Mercedes Russell (13 points) and Natasha Howard (26 points) both set career highs in scoring and narrowly missed out on double-doubles, collecting eight and nine rebounds apiece.

Kelsey Mitchell went off for 21 points, while Candice Dupree had a double-double (10 points, 15 rebounds).

At 4-3, the Storm are now sixth in the WNBA.

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The Morning After: Dan Hughes, 2018 WNBA Champion

Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 10.29.07 PM
To be fair, the graphic is 50 percent correct

Following an ugly loss to the Minnesota Lynx, the Seattle Storm rebounded with a commanding 82-66 win over the Atlanta Dream on Friday night.

Natasha Howard led all scorers with 19 points and added 14 rebounds, four assists, two steals and three blocks to an excellent all-around night. Jordin Canada chipped in with 12 points and seven assists, while Jewell Loyd finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and four dimes.

Tiffany Hayes battled foul trouble early on and never found her groove, scoring nine points on 2-of-4 shooting. Renee Montgomery had a night to forget as well, shooting 1-of-6 for three points.

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The Morning After: NOT THE BEES! NOT THE BEES! AAAAAHHHHH!

Screen Shot 2019-05-30 at 9.23.31 AMThe Seattle Storm won’t be going undefeated in 2019.

The defending WNBA champions fell 72-61 to the Minnesota Lynx on Wednesday night. Seattle couldn’t dig out of the hole it created for itself following a nine-point opening quarter.

Natasha Howard was the game’s leading scorer (18) but finished with just five rebounds—one game after grabbing a career-high 16 boards in the team’ season opener.

The Storm held Sylvia Fowles in check for the most part offensively, limiting the 2017 MVP to seven points. Fowles hammered Seattle on the glass, though, finishing with 13 rebounds.

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Seattle Storm 2018 Player Review: Mercedes Russell

Mercedes RussellMercedes Russell’s rookie season got off to an inauspicious start. The 2018 second-round pick didn’t make it out of training camp for the New York Liberty. The Liberty signed her back but then released her again after two games to make room for Kia Vaughn.

But Russell’s year ended with a WNBA championship, so she had the last laugh.

 

Mercedes Russell By the Numbers

  • 1.6 PPG
  • 1.4 RPG
  • 0.1 BPG
  • .484 FG%
  • 6.7 OREB%
  • 21.7 DREB%
  • 14.0 TRB%
  • 1.5 BLK%
  • 90.1 ORtg
  • 96.6 DRtg
  • 0.1 WS

 

Crashing the Boards

Rebounding was Russell’s biggest area of strength in 2018, which isn’t all that surprising based on her senior year at Tennessee. During the 2017-18 season, she ranked in the top 11th percentile in total rebounding rate (14.3 percent), per Her Hoops Stats. She was also in the top 10 percent in offensive rebounding rate (11.1 percent) and top 16 percent in defensive rebounding rate (17.2 percent).

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Seattle Storm 2019 Offseason Preview

Screen Shot 2018-06-01 at 12.11.29 PMWhat do you get the team that has everything? Seattle Storm general manager Alisha Valavanis and head coach Dan Hughes are about to find out as they look to build on a 2018 season in which the Storm were WNBA champions for the third time.

Incremental change was the theme of the 2018 offseason.

Valavanis didn’t panic after a season in which Seattle finished eighth and fired its head coach in the middle of the year.

The Storm could’ve taken a chance on a young first-year head coach. Instead, they hired Hughes, one of the most experienced coaches in WNBA history.

And rather than shaking up the roster, Valavanis signed eight-year veteran Courtney Paris and acquired Natasha Howard in a sign-and-trade with the Minnesota Lynx. Howard was a revelation in her first year with the team and the missing piece of the proverbial puzzle, but it didn’t look like Seattle got demonstrably better ahead of the 2018 campaign.

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