Storm can relate to growing pains suffered by Sun
If there’s one WNBA team the Connecticut Sun can relate to, it’s the Seattle Storm.
Seattle has had five straight losing seasons (one more than the Sun), and, like Connecticut, is rebuilding around a talented young core.
The Storm started strong but have lost six of their last seven games. The latest was Tuesday afternoon’s 100-70 mauling by the Washington Mystics.
Seattle is on a two-game losing streak. Ditto the Sun. The two play Thursday at Mohegan Sun Arena in a national televised game (8 p.m., ESPN2).
The Sun (6-7) will celebrate their 15th season in Connecticut. Katie Douglas and Nykesha Sales, who were with the team in their inaugural 2003 season and helped them to Eastern Conference titles in 2004 and 2005, will be interviewed on-court at halftime. Rebecca Lobo, who was also on that 2003 team, will be the ESPN2 analyst.
The Storm's loss to the Mystics was just the eighth time in their 18-year history that they've lost by 30-or-more points. They trailed by as much as 36 points (100-64) with one minute, 49 seconds left in the game, apoint away from tying their franchise record for largest deficit.
“I mean, listen, losing stinks,” Storm veteran Sue Bird said, “but you can’t be too dramatic about it. The difference between teams in this league is so small. You look at (winless) San Antonio almost beating Minnesota (Sunday).”
San Antonio led by as much as 64-55 with over eight minutes left in the game, but lost 87-78.
“Sometimes (losing) feels bigger than it is, but it’s really just a matter of a couple of possessions here-and-there," Bird said. "You just stay the course. Just keep playing and stay with it.”
Seattle (6-7) had the remarkable fortune to win the draft lottery in back-to-back seasons. It selected guard Jewell Loyd in 2015 and UConn icon Breanna Stewart in 2016. Both were All-WNBA second-team picks last season.
The Storm beat the Indiana Fever (87-82 and 94-70), Washington (81-71) and the New York Liberty (87-81) — all winning teams — as they started this season 5-2.
Rebuilding, alas, is never easy, no matter how much young talent a team amasses. The Storm have lost to those three teams and more this month.
“The level of play for our team right now is not where we want it to be,” Bird said. “We started the season well and then kind of hit a little bit of a rut. I don’t think that (Washington) game is the norm if you look at some of our other losses.
“I can say this — It’s not the first time I’ve lost by that much, and it probably won’t be the last. The one thing you learn going through a season in this league is (those beatings are) going to happen to every team. You’re going to have those games. It’s how you respond to them (that matters).”
The ageless Bird is still going strong. She earned her fifth All-WNBA first team honor last year and is averaging a league-best 7.5 assists this season with 10.3 points.
Loyd is ninth in the league in points per game (17.2); Stewart is 10th (17.1, with 8.5 rebounds). Veteran post Crystal Langhorne is also averaging 12 points and 5.7 rebounds.
“We’re just trying to get our footing,” Stewart said. “We’ve kind of slipped, obviously, and it can be because of the most simplest of things. It’s a long season. … We’re going to get back on the right track.”
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