The Storm is Upon Us. Yay!

Canada time? I think so, and my wife and I are actually in this photo just to the right of the ball. Go Storm!

I’m a Seattle Storm fan. I have grown to become a bigger and bigger one over the years, once I started dating the wonderful person who is now my wife. Sometimes you get lucky in life like that, and you meet the person that will make you more well rounded. For me, that was my wife turning me onto this WNBA franchise way up here in Alaska South.

So, Christmas before last season, I bought season tickets to the Storm for her as a present. I have been a diehard Seahawks fan all of my life, yet I have never so much as shelled out on season tickets for them, but I had a feeling that 2018 might be a season that my wife would not want to miss a home Storm game in person, and I really wanted her to experience that. So I dropped the serious cheddar on them, and I was glad I did.

I was ridiculously glad that I did. The girls delivered their third WNBA championship, and I found myself as invested in them as my wife, if not more, and the Seattle Storm officially became my team.

Sometimes you can just get a feeling about the greatness of a team. If you step back from your optimism, and just soak in the talent, character, and chemistry, you can sometimes sense greatness around the corner. I’ve felt this a few times in Seattle sports. I felt it in 1983 about the Seattle Seahawks when head coach Chuck Knox took over, and the team went one game away from a Super Bowl in his first season. I felt it in the 1992-’93 season of the Seattle Supersonics when head coach George Karl took over a young athletic roster, and they went 55-27 and lost in the Western Conference finals to Phoenix. I felt it again with the Seattle Seahawks in 2012 when head coach Pete Carroll surprisingly made rookie quarterback Russell Wilson the starter, and a year later they won the Super Bowl.

With the 2018 Seattle Storm, I felt something major was on the verge of happening. 2017 wasn’t a great year for them, they inched into the playoffs with a young roster, and were out of it right away. But they made a coaching change bringing in veteran WNBA stalwart Dan Hughes, and they acquired athletic veteran forward Natasha Howard from Minnesota. Howard was one of those sneaky acquisitions where the new head coach was familiar with the player and saw a specific role in mind. In short, Howard proved to be a key missing piece to the Storm puzzle. Then the Storm followed up that acquisition by drafting the electric UCLA point guard Jordin Canada in April. While a backup point guard might not seem that splashy of draft selection, watching Canada’s break ankle speed on the court was a sight to behold. It became clear to me what Hughes’ plan was within the first two games of the season with the additions of Howard and Canada; Seattle was going to be a running team.

As a fan of the 1990’s Supersonics, I got really excited, and invested. Veteran All-World point guard Sue Bird did, too. She literally reinvented herself as a player by midseason.  Gone was the methodical half court Sue Bird. In was the leaner meaner race down the court Sue Bird. It was a dramatic shift from the style of ball she had become accustomed to, but she not only embraced it, she commanded it. She would lead the starters into a up tempo style of ball.

They lost size up front by having Howard play center, but because so much attention was on long lean MVP forward Breanna Stewart, that opened up opportunities for Howard’s quicks and hops towards the basket. Then factor in whenever Canada replaced Bird, and the fact that the bench would get even faster, the other WNBA teams had to do A LOT of running up and down the court to stay up with Seattle. Dang it all if it wasn’t a lot of fun to watch. Dan Hughes’ gassed the WNBA with his 2018 championship team. They out did what the Sonics did in the 1990’s. I kid you not about that.

Now fast forward to May 2019. How are we looking? Well, I’ll be honest, things could be better for Storm fans.

The Seattle Storm are about to start their 2019 campaign without Breanna Stewart because she tore her Achilles in an overseas basketball game, and without Sue Bird who injured her knee in preseason practice, and will be essentially done for the year after surgery. They will also be without their savvy head coach Dan Hughes as he is out for a while battling cancer. These are massive blows to the team, no doubt, but I for one, will be eager to see how this team responds.

How would have the 1994 Seattle Supersonics responded if they didn’t have George Karl for a while, and were without stars Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp for the entire year? Well, they still had Nate McMillian, Sam Perkins, Detlef Schrempf, Ricky Pierce, and Kendall Gill. There was still talent on that roster to still compete, absolutely.

So, I am here to tell you that there is still talent on the 2019 Seattle Storm roster to compete and make the 2019 season worth watching. Canada is an electrically fast point guard with strong potential as an outside shooter. Howard is an athletic forward who won’t have the benefit of Breanna Stewart soaking up attention in the paint, but still possesses a skillset that other teams need to be wary of. Throw in the steady play and defensive prowess of small forward Alysha Clark, the high powered scoring abilities of shooting guard Jewell Loyd, and the long time veteran savvy of center Crystal Langhorne, and this feels like a starting five that could still give teams fits. A lot of it will hinge on Canada taking a big step forward. Personally, based on what I saw towards the end of the 2018 season, I think Canada is ready for it, and I’m excited to see it happen.

And this is still a team with more than capable talent coming off the bench. Veteran forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis can drain a three from almost anywhere, and shooting guard Sami Whitcomb was ON FIRE during the intense playoff series against the Phoenix Mercury. One could easily argue the her bench play was the match that lit the fire under the team that ultimately got Seattle past Phoenix in that dramatic series. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Whitcomb take a much bigger role on this team this year. I think she was poised to do it without the injuries to Bird and Stewart, and like Canada, I think she’s ready for it.

For the 2019 Seattle Storm it is simply a matter for next woman up, and this is why try fans watch. Can they do it? Can they stay competitive without their two brightest stars?

I’m in. Are you?

I hope so. These girls have earned it.

Go Storm.


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