Is it time to panic?
The Seattle Storm fell to 0-4 on their current five-game road trip and 1-7 on the season with a 74-58 loss to Chicago on Wednesday night. The Storm are off to their worst start in franchise history.
When the season began, an adjustment period was expected on a team that had a many new face, but no one could have expected a 1-7 start. The goal for the Storm from the beginning was to learn on the fly and stay in the race for the playoffs until Lauren Jackson returns after the Olympics. But at 1-7, the Storm have the second worst record in the league and are dangerously close to playing themselves out of an opportunity at the playoffs before Jackson even returns.
Wednesday, a familiar problem plagued the Storm — lack of offense. Tina Thompson led the team in scoring with 13 points off the bench. While the team has shown signs of life on the offensive end throughout the season, consistency has been lacking.
“It’s hard,” center Ann Wauters said. “There are some new players here and I know we have a lot of very talented players in this locker room but we just have to find a way to really click and connect together. Sometimes we show it on the court but not consistently enough and that’s what we have to look for. Consistency, offense and defense and finding each other is what we have to look for. Just playing together and knowing what my teammate is going to do in defense and offense. We just have to play together better.”
Point guard Sue Bird helped to take on much of the scoring load when Jackson missed nearly half the season with injury a year ago, but, with the exception of a 27 point performance at home against Tulsa, she hasn’t had the offensive production she did a year ago. She finished with eight points and 10 assists against Chicago.
The Storm saw two familiar faces for the first time this season as they faced the Sky, forwards Swin Cash and Le’coe Willingham. The Storm traded the two players to Chicago in the offseason, obtaining the second pick in the 2012 WNBA draft, which they used to select Tennessee’s Shekinna Stricklen. While Epiphanny Prince and Sylvia Fowles handle the bulk of the scoring load for the Sky, Storm head coach Brian Agler said that Cash and Willingham provide the team a veteran presence on the floor and in the locker room.
“Well obviously they have had some great additions with two of our former players in Swin and Le’coe,” Agler said. “Those two, even though you may not see their impact on the team in statistics, they impact the team in regards to leadership, stability and experience out there. That’s one big improvement.”
Another key reason for the Sky’s turnaround from a year ago is the dramatic improvement of Prince, who leads the WNBA averaging 24.3 points per game.
The Storm complete their five-game road trip against the only team they have beaten this season, Tulsa, Friday night. While it can’t be disputed that the Storm have struggled mightily to start the season, Agler said that they need to continue to work together and insists it isn’t time to panic.
“Just time together. Keep playing together. We have to get the schedule going our way a little bit. Keep on working through things. There’s no panic right now. We are making progress and we just have to keep heading in the right direction,” he said.