By Seth Dahle
Perhaps one of Seattle’s most underrated positions is the one that serves as a backup to 16-year veteran and the WNBA’s all-time assist leader, Sue Bird.
But Noelle Quinn did just that in 2017 and proved critical for the Storm, even when she earned a starting role with Bird on the sideline. There were never double-digit assist performances or 20-point explosions – just a steady and well-seasoned veteran who got the job done.
At the conclusion of the 2017 season, Quinn averaged 2.7 points and 2.8 assists per contest, making four starts in 32 games for the green and gold. In her four starts, which were the most for Quinn since the 2014 campaign, she dished out 23 dimes, totaling for a 5.8 average, which is well above her career assist-per-game tally of 2.4.
Although she acknowledged the hot start to the season in which the Storm won five of its first seven, Quinn said that injuries played a role in the team’s midseason struggles.
“During the season, we started off well,” said Quinn. “We thought that was going to be the way the season would continue to go. This league is that tough. We had ups and downs. We had injuries. We started without Sue and Stewie. It’s hard to adjust when you’re coming off injuries. We hit this point where we couldn’t pull out games. We weren’t playing as hard as we probably could.”
After averaging 4.5 points and 5.5 assists per game in the first two games of the season as a starter, Quinn came off the bench behind Bird for the next 24 games. While her season-high eight dimes in the 2017 opener at Los Angeles was her best outing of the season, Quinn recorded five dimes or more six times in 2017, including a pair of six-assist games (May 26 vs. New York, July 30 at Minnesota).
As a scorer, Quinn continually stepped up to hit big three’s when Seattle needed it, as 15 of her 25 field goals this season came from beyond the arc. She boasted a 2.9 assist-to-turnover ratio this season, which ranked second on the team behind Bird’s 3.2 average.
While Seattle’s 12-player roster did contain long-time vets such as Bird, Quinn and Crystal Langhorne, Quinn said that young superstars like Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart still have a lot to learn as professionals, and it all comes with time.
“Everyone holds this organization to high levels and has high expectations,” said Quinn. “It’s a process. And people must understand that being a professional, even though they’re good, you still learn have to be a professional.”
Quinn was as automatic as it gets from the charity stripe this season. The former UCLA standout, who was drafted fourth overall by Minnesota in 2007, shot 95.2 percent from the line this season, ranking first on the team among players who nailed 20 or more.
Adding depth and experience to the Storm’s backcourt, Quinn never extended beyond her role this season, and that’s something that hasn’t changed since her time in Seattle. While some of her assets may never show up in the final box score, Quinn was undoubtedly an important piece to the puzzle, notably the Storm’s backcourt, in helping the team to its 13th playoff appearance.
- Made four starts this season, compiling a 3-1 record in those games
- Dished out a season-high eight assists to go along with five points at Los Angeles on 5/13
- Grabbed a season-high five rebounds vs. Washington on 5/21
- Scored a season-high six points twice
- Dished out six assists against Minnesota on 7/30
- Compiled seven assists at Chicago on 9/3