The WNBA Seattle Storm had a good start to their 2017 season defeating the Phoenix Mercury 86-64 on May 3rd at the KeyArena in Seattle.
The pre-season game was the first opportunity for the Storm to put into play what they’ve been practicing.
With some key players sitting out the rookies and new to Seattle veteran players put their game on the court as they vied for a spot on opening day.
“..Being able to get on the court against Phoenix there’s a little nerves at first especially for the people who haven’t played before,” said center Breanna Stewart. “As we settled down into the third quarter, end of fourth quarter I think we looked great.”
Seattle may have had some nerves as they played their first opponent and despite some issues with turnovers they seemed to have rebuilt a more balanced team with the return of a strong defensive showing.
Storm head coach Jenny Boucek said she felt the defense and rebounding was good and the team did well to keep the Mercury off the glass and force them into tough shots.
“I thought overall we were pretty good for our first game with a lot of new people and a lot of different rotations, different line ups,” said Boucek. “Defense is as much of a rhythm as offense is. And so the more you sub the more combinations you play the harder it is to pick up a rhythm and so I thought the defense and the rebounding was pretty good considering all that.”
Boucek did feel that though the defense looked good, the offense still had some work to do.
“Offensively we have a long way to go,” said Boucek. “…Turnovers were too high. But some of that’s the rotations and just having hesitancy and certain players that aren’t quite sure what we’re doing yet offensively.”
Two players who did seem to get into the rhythm of the game were newcomers guard Sami Whitcomb and center Carolyn Swords.
Whitcomb, a University of Washington alum, had been playing in Australia and was excited to get back to Seattle.
“It’s been a dream for a long time (to play in the WNBA),” said Whitcomb. “…I would have gone anywhere but Seattle’s really the place that’s been home to me prior to that so I felt really lucky that that was the opportunity and I feel like it’s a fantastic fit.”
In this game Whitcomb showed what she could do as she lead the team, along with Swords, with both scoring 15 points and Whitcomb adding four steals.
Swords also added eight rebounds and though adding size to the Storm has been a focus she talked about the balance Seattle is showing.
“I think as a whole we’re playing really well together so it’s going to be hard to just focus on one aspect of this team and that’s the really exciting part…,” said Swords. “You have great scorers on the perimeter, size on the inside, very versatile players on the inside so I’m enjoying it. I hope the fans enjoy watching it.”
Pre-season games don’t matter in the standings and many people don’t give them a lot of weight but for those players trying to make a team these games may be their only shot to impress.
For teams trying to create a vision the games are an opportunity to put the pieces they’ve been practicing together and create a team that will be competitive every game.
“Our focus,” said Boucek. “(And) you’ll get tired of me saying it but it’s legit, is to be better than we were this game.”
Boucek said the team will go back to the drawing board, analyze film and work to getting better before heading to their next pre-season game which is on the road.
Boucek sees another learning opportunity for Seattle as they add in the aspect of how to win on the road. Something she says isn’t easy in the WNBA.
“(It’s) really, really difficult to win on the road in this league,” said Boucek. “And it takes understanding and maturity…so we’re going to focus in on some of the keys to having success on the road and see if we can get some progress there.”
Seattle’s goal is to continue to get better and for those who have followed the Storm they’re already a step ahead with one of their better pre-season games in recent years and a stronger aura of belief and resiliency.
The Storm continues the pre-season against the Mercury at 3pm on Sunday, May 7th at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.
Seattle’s regular season opener will be against the defending champion Los Angeles Sparks at 2pm on Saturday, May 13th at the Staple Center in Los Angeles.
Their home opener is against the Indiana Fever at 4pm on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14th, at KeyArena.