The Seattle Storm will hit the hardwood on Tuesday afternoon in the first preseason game under head coach Dan Hughes, as the team hosts the Phoenix Mercury at noon PT.
HOW TO FOLLOW
LAST TIME OUT
The Storm enters the 2018 campaign having collected its second consecutive playoff appearance, including its 13th overall.
A lot has changed since the 2017 season. With a new head coach in Hughes, who enters his 17th season in the WNBA, the Storm’s roster saw multiple shakeups. Seattle added depth and strength to its frontcourt, signing a multi-year deal with Courtney Paris, a two-time WNBA Peak Performer for rebounding, and acquiring Natasha Howard from Minnesota. Seattle then selected UCLA standout Jordin Canada as the fifth overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft, as well as West Virginia’s Teana Muldrow in the third round.
Once again, the Storm’s ‘big three’ of Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird and Jewell Loyd are back to lead the way. A 2017 All-Star, Stewart finished second in the league last year in scoring with 19.9 points per game, and she became the fastest player in WNBA history to notch 1,000 points and 500 rebounds, completing the feat in just 55 games. Bird had just as a good a season in 2017, collecting her 10th All-Star bid and becoming the league’s all-time assists leader with dime No. 2,600 at Washington on Sept. 3. Loyd had a breakout year on the offensive end, averaging 17.7 points per game and registering nine games with 25 points or more.
Seattle went 15-19 overall in 2017, but mustered a critical four-game winning streak down the stretch to earn a postseason bid. The Storm ultimately came up short at Phoenix in the first round by a 79-69 margin.
STORM IN PRESEASON GAMES
The Storm holds a 19-26 all-time record in preseason games, including an even 5-5 mark against Phoenix. Last season, the Storm defeated the Mercury, 86-64, on May 3 at KeyArena behind 15 points from Sami Whitcomb and 14 points from Loyd.
Seattle is 4-1 against Phoenix in preseason games played at KeyArena.
The Mercury is coming off a semifinal appearance in the 2017 WNBA Playoffs, marking its fifth-straight playoff bid and making head coach Sandy Brondello the first coach in franchise history to make four-straight postseason appearances.
In 2017, Phoenix was led by 6-9 center Brittney Griner, who averaged a league-best 21.9 points per game to go along with 7.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per contest. Diana Taurasi, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, is also back this season. She posted nearly 18 points per game and shot over 91 percent from the charity stripe.
The Storm will travel to Phoenix for its final tune-up before the regular season, facing the Mercury on Saturday at 7 p.m. PT.