Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

New-Look Storm Figuring Out How to Make it Rain

Sean Alexander

Coming off an 11 win, 29 loss 2023 season, the second-worst record in franchise history, the Seattle Storm made big moves in the off-season, signing forward Nneka Ogwumike, the 2016 WNBA MVP, and guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, a six-time All-Star and four-time First-Team All-WNBA selection.

These signings meant new expectations for the Storm in 2024. Based on CBS Sports’ preseason power rankings, the new-look Storm are projected to be the third-best team in the league, coming in behind powerhouses, the New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces, who made up last season’s WNBA Finals matchup. 

In spite of predictions, it has been a slow start for the Storm, who lost their first two games of the season against a dynamic Minnesota Lynx team. They opened their season May 14 at home in Climate Pledge Arena, where a strong offensive start had fans on their feet, but a flat second half left them with little to cheer for. 

After the first two quarters, the Storm were only down 45-44 going into the half, but the Lynx came out of the break with an overwhelming defense that the freshly acquainted Storm could not handle. In the fourth quarter, the Storm offense struggled especially, only scoring 10 points to a Lynx 20, the final score of the game being 83-70. 

Fans who were in attendance for the season opener showed a mixture of disappointment and resolve. Kevin Chen, a fan and software engineer, was disappointed. 

“We go out and sign some All-Stars and we lose by double-digits,” Chen lamented.

Over the course of the season, he believes the Storm have a chance to compete with the Liberty and Aces. Chen wants to be better than the Liberty especially, who signed former Storm star Breanna Stewart in 2023.

“It’s tough because they have the chemistry of being able to run it back with their teams, so we will see, it’s year one of a new era,” Chen said. 

Chen added that one of the primary reasons he was in attendance for the opening game was in hopes of seeing the Storm’s first-round draft pick, Nika Mühl, out of the University of Connecticut. Unfortunately, Chen and other fans have not had that chance, Mühl being unable to be on the Storm roster due to persisting visa issues.

Sasha Fallsberg, an audio engineer and longtime Storm fan, experienced a range of emotions during the season opener, noting that the team’s chemistry and rotation still need work.

“You could see that Skylar and Nneka were fitting in real well real quick. We just have to make our shots, and rotate defensively,” Fallsberg said. 

The Storm’s big new signings did not necessarily have bad games. Ogwumike scored 20 points, shooting 10-18 with nine rebounds, while Diggins-Smith had 10 points, six assists and two steals. 

Less stellar performances came from the Storm’s leading scorer from last season, Jewell Loyd, who finished with 10 points on 3-19 shooting.  The team also struggled to keep possession of the ball, turning it over 17 times. 

“We had one 3-pointer the whole game. That’s not good,” Fallsberg added, pointing at the Storm’s abysmal 1-9 finish from 3-point range.

“And I’m sorry [to Storm head coach] Noelle Quinn, but I also think we got outcoached. Our first half we were there, but after the break, [Lynx head coach] Cheryl Reeve knew what she was doing and they came after us. But it’s a promising start nonetheless.”

When asked whether they thought the Storm had a chance to compete with the likes of the Liberty and the Aces, Fallsberg remained emphatically behind the team after the loss. 

“Hell yeah, absolutely! This is Jewell’s team and she is still figuring out what that looks like with more vets to rely on than just her, but I’m stoked!” Fallsburg said.

A similar but more tempered outlook was offered by Marsha Thomas, a retired school teacher and Storm season ticket holder. 

“I don’t know about competing for a title this year, but I am certainly hoping to reach the playoffs. The Liberty and the Aces are still really good, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have an opportunity,” Thomas said. 

The Storm would earn their first win on the road against the Washington Mystics May 19, bringing their record to 2-3 on the young season.

Regardless of how long it takes the Storm to begin to work together and gel, the feeling among fans remains hopeful, and at the very least confident in a better season to come than 2023. Only 40 games long, the WNBA season demands that teams play their best from the start. The Storm will have to quickly figure out how to work together with their new stars to make it rain in 2024. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Spectator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *