It’s been a rough week and a half for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.
After losing large at home to the Minnesota Lynx 100-77 they went on the road in hopes of a bounce-back win.
They accomplished that with a win against the winless San Antonio Stars, but then the road got rough and the Storm lost two in a row to the Indiana Fever and New York Liberty.
They returned to their home court last Tuesday to face the Atlanta Dream, the team that ended their playoff run early last year, seeking to once again right the ship.
But despite another high scoring effort they came up short losing to the Dream in overtime 90-87.
During the Atlanta game there was obvious frustration by both teams and the fans with the officiating. Constant stoppage to view possible fouls began to wear on everyone and one could make a case that it prevented the flow of game for the Storm.
But you won’t find Seattle using calls as an excuse. In fact, you’ll hear them talking about how to find the answers to overcome those types of nights.
“I think when you play games that are physical and in a lot of ways you have to grind them out. Things like referees…what they’re going to call, shots falling or not falling some of that stuff is out of your control,” said Storm guard Sue Bird. “It’s really important to control things that are in your control. And I think a lot hustle plays that happened tonight that we didn’t get that’s probably going to be the story of the game…you can’t give up offensive rebounds and easy baskets in the event that calls don’t go your way, in the event that shots don’t fall…You just have to play through it and I think right now we’re just not doing a good job (of that).”
For the Storm it isn’t about scoring. They’ve scored 80 or more points in their last four games.
They’ve had different players stepping up and consistent play from guard Jewell Loyd and center Breanna Stewart who are averaging 19.8 and 16.8 points per game.
It’s about defense which is allowing opponents to average over 80 points a game and probably more importantly focus and getting back to their own style of play.
“Obviously I’ve been on this team for a long time,” said Bird. “I’ve gone through seasons where it’s been up and down. I’ve gone through seasons where the down happened earlier. I’ve gone through where the down happened later so the one thing is you’ve just got to just stay the course. Right now I feel we have an identity but were not playing to it and that’s a (problem).”
Seattle (5-5) seems to definitely have lost something whether you call it focus or identity. The way they played at the end of last season and carried that into the start of this season which had them at 5-2 seems to have slipped away as the Storm deals with a three-game losing streak and trying to figure out how to right the ship.
“We have just got to get back to who we are,” said Seattle head coach Jenny Boucek. “We’ve slipped on some areas but we’ve got to get back to who we are.”
The Storm will seek to find themselves as they head into this Sunday’s game against the San Antonio Stars.
They’ll face off with San Antonio (0-10) and former University of Washington Huskies star and 2017 number one pick Kelsey Plum who makes her first visit to the Pacific Northwest since the season began.
Plum hasn’t started the season as the player in the WNBA that she was in the NCAA. After dealing with a twisted ankle, which kept Plum out of the first three games of the season, she’s played in seven games averaging 14.1 minutes with a 3.6 scoring averaging that includes zero points in her last two games. In fact her last points scored were against the Storm in San Antonio where Plum scored six.
The reigning NCAA women’s all-time scorer Plum will surely get a rousing welcome back especially as the Storm’s promoting the game as UW night which includes Storm guard Sami Whitcomb who also graduated from the Huskies basketball program.
One thing they know they’ll always have support of are their loud and loyal fans.
“The crowd was great especially as we made that run at the end of the fourth (against Atlanta) to go into overtime,” said Stewart. “You know it helped us a lot, helped us surge. You know that’s what you need especially when you’re at home trying to protect your home court. The majority of that (energy) is the atmosphere and the fans.”
Seattle takes on the Stars starting at 4 pm on Father’s day, Sunday, June 18 at the KeyArena in Seattle.