League Unveils New Schedule, Playoffs Format Ahead of 20th Season
SEATTLE – The Seattle Storm today announced the team’s regular season schedule for the 2016 season. Additionally, the WNBA has announced format changes to both the league’s regular season slate and the playoffs. With the 2016 WNBA season approaching quickly, here is your one-stop shop for all information you need to know about Storm Basketball.
Heading into the 2016 Olympic Year, the WNBA begins play in early May. With 12 weekend home games, the 2016 Storm schedule also includes a 4-week break while Olympic athletes compete in Brazil.
- The team will open the 2016 KeyArena slate on May 22 at 4 p.m. vs. the defending WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx, in a game that could feature up to five number one WNBA Draft picks, including the Storm’s 2016 top selection and Jewell Loyd, the 2015 WNBA Rookie of the Year and 2015 top draft pick.
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- Fans are invited to celebrate Father’s Day with the Storm, as the team tips off at 4 p.m. against Minnesota on Sunday, June 19.
- Tip off Seattle Pride weekend on Friday, June 24 at KeyArena as the Storm welcomes Connecticut at 7 p.m.
- Oregon native Shoni Schimmel, the highest Native American player ever drafted in the WNBA, makes her return to the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday, June 28 at 7 p.m. for Native American Heritage Night vs. Atlanta.
- Tamika Catchings, who recently was named the first-ever female recipient of the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award, plays her final game in Seattle on Sunday, July 10 at 4 p.m., as she has announced that the 2016 WNBA season will be her last. The WNBA’s active leader in points and rebounds, Catchings was named WNBA MVP in 2011 and led her team to the 2012 and 2015 WNBA Finals, winning the 2012 WNBA Championship and Finals MVP honors.
- Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky make their first trip to KeyArena in a matchup that will feature multiple Olympic athletes on Sunday, July 17 at 4 p.m. This game is the final home weekend game before the WNBA Olympic Break, where WNBA players will compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
- The first game back from the Olympic Break features Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks on Friday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. The Western Conference foe will return on Sunday, Sept. 11 as the Storm hosts Hoops for Heroes Night, with tipoff set for 4 p.m.
- The team closes out the regular season slate on Fan Appreciation Night, Sunday, Sept. 18 at 4 p.m. vs. Delle Donne and the Sky.
WNBA SCHEDUE FORMAT CHANGES
As the league ushers in its 20th season, the WNBA has unveiled a new schedule format. Under the new, more balanced regular-season format, teams will face their five in-conference opponents in the following manner:
- Four games against one team (two home and two away)
- Three games apiece against the four remaining teams (two home and one away versus two teams; one home and two away versus the other two teams)
- Each team’s opponent breakdown was selected at random and will be rotated annually to ensure a fair balance of the schedule.
Games against the six teams in the opposite conference will be as follows:
- Three games against each team (two home and one away versus three teams; one home and two away versus the remaining three teams)
- The opponents for the two formats have been selected at random and will be reversed annually.
WNBA PLAYOFFS FORMAT CHANGES
Beginning with the WNBA’s historic 20th season, the eight teams with the highest winning percentages regardless of conference will qualify for the playoffs and be seeded based on their record.
Additional changes to the playoff structure are as follows:
- The number of playoff rounds increases from three to four. The top two seeds receive a bye to the semifinals (third round), and the third and fourth seeds receive a bye to the second round.
- Teams will be re-seeded after each postseason round.
- The first and second rounds are single elimination. In the first round, the No. 5 seed hosts the No. 8 seed and the No. 6 seed hosts the No. 7 seed. In the second round, the No. 3 seed hosts the lowest-seeded first-round winner and the No. 4 seed hosts the other first-round winner.
- The semifinals feature a best-of-five format, with the No. 1 overall seed playing the lowest remaining seed and the No. 2 overall seed meeting the remaining team. The Nos. 1 and 2 seeds will host Games 1, 2 and 5, and the lower-seeded teams will host Games 3 and 4 in their respective series. The WNBA Finals remain best-of-five and follow the same 2-2-1 format.
WNBA 20th SEASON ANNOUNCEMENT
Earlier today, the league announced the ‘Watch Me Work’ campaign, highlighting the legacy of the WNBA, and its inspiring current and former players. An extension of the postseason ad “Watch Me,” the campaign’s first spot features Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx), Skylar Diggins (Dallas Wings) and Sue Bird (Seattle Storm). While captivating viewers with powerful imagery of the athletes’ determination and competitive spirit, the spot’s first-person narration highlights how former players inspired today’s stars to follow their dreams against all odds. “Watch Me Work” will premiere on Jan. 30 during the NBA Saturday Primetime game between the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC. Additional spots will roll out at start of season, and air on TV and digital platforms. @WNBA @NBA #WatchMeWork
“This is a major milestone for the WNBA,” said Storm President & GM Alisha Valavanis. “This season will give us an opportunity to honor those who built the foundation of this league and embrace the next generation of athletes.”
SUNDAY HOME GAME TIME CHANGE
In addition to the schedule format change, Seattle has announced a time change for all Sunday home games. Sunday games will now tipoff at 4 p.m. Weekday games will remain at 7 p.m. PT and Saturdays will tipoff at 6 p.m. PT.
SEATTLE OWNS SECOND-CONSECUTIVE NUMBER ONE DRAFT PICK
For the second time in franchise history, Seattle owns a second-consecutive first overall pick in the WNBA Draft. The only other time this occurred in the league’s 20-year history was in 2001 and 2002, when Seattle selected Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird, respectively. In 2015, the organization selected guard Jewell Loyd out of Notre Dame. She went on to earn the franchise’s first WNBA Rookie of the Year honors. With the 2016 WNBA Draft date yet to be announced, click here for the Storm Draft Headquarters to read about the available top prospects across the country.
2016 FREE AGENCY PROCESS
The free agency process is well underway, however, Monday, Feb. 1 marks the first day that any team can execute a contract. The WNBA has posted the list of free agents here.
STORM PLAYERS OVERSEAS
Jewell Loyd, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Alysha Clark and other members of the Storm have been working hard over the past few months for their teams overseas. Keep up-to-date with live links to watch EuroLeague games, player Twitter feeds and stats here.
STORM MEDIA CENTRAL
To accommodate those covering the Storm this season, this site houses all press release archives, media guides and game documents. Members of the media have the ability to download photos, game highlights and player and staff bio information, as well as apply for both full and single game credentials all on media central.
FRANCHISE COLOR REFRESH
On Jan. 4, 2016, the Storm unveiled a refreshed color scheme. The colors reflect the franchise’s new era of Storm Basketball by updating the former gold to lightning yellow and adding thunder gray as an accent color.
“In tribute to the championship legacy of the Seattle Storm and its passionate fan base, the logo will maintain its shape and primary graphic attributes,” said Valavanis. “Further, as nod to professional basketball in Seattle, the primary colors of green and yellow will remain at the foundation of the brand.”
STORM COACHING STAFF
As Jenny Boucek enters her second year as the Storm’s head coach, she elevated Leah Drury to assistant coach on Nov. 4, 2015. Ryan Webb is entering his second season on Boucek’s staff.
PAC-12 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
Kelsey Plum, one of the most prolific scorers in the NCAA this season, headlines a very competitive Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Tournament. This is your chance to see top WNBA prospects Jillian Alleyne (Oregon), Ruth Hamblin (Oregon State) and Nirra Fields (UCLA), as well as talented underclassman Jordin Canada (UCLA), Lili Thompson (Stanford), Kristine Anigwe (Cal), Sydney Wiese (Oregon State), Emily Potter (Utah) and Sophie Brunner (ASU) battle it out for the ultimate prize: the conference tournament winner is granted a guaranteed trip to the 2016 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Single game tickets will go on sale in the Spring. Secure the best seats in the house with Storm 360 Memberships, available now, starting at $288, available online or by calling (206) 217-WNBA (9622). For packages and group discounts, please call 206-217-WNBA (9622).