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Seattle Storm preseason recap against the Phoenix Mercury

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The Seattle Storm played a home and away series against the Phoenix Mercury during the pre-season. Find out how the games turned out.

Breanna Stewart pulls down the rebound against Phoenix.
Breanna Stewart pulls down the rebound against Phoenix.
Neil Enns

The Seattle Storm have now completed their pre-season exhibition games.  They played the Phoenix Mercury at home in Seattle back on Wednesday.  And then they had a re-match down in Phoenix on Sunday afternoon.  We recap both games and discuss the highlights of each one.

Unfortunately, the Storm fell in their first preseason game against the Phoenix Mercury, by a final score of 81-73 in front of the Storm Crazies in Seattle.  Breanna Stewart started the game out strong with some early baskets, to put the Storm up 20-16 at the end of the 1st quarter.  Stewart would finish the game with 11 points, 8 rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot.  It was last year's Rookie of the Year, Jewell Loyd, that led the team in scoring with 16 points, 4 rebounds, and two assists.  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough as the Storm were outscored by twelve points after the first quarter, as the Storm would lose their first exhibition game of the preseason.  The Phoenix Mercury were without their mega-stars Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner and were instead led by Penny Taylor and rookie Courtney Williams; both scored 15 points for the visiting team.

Jewell Loyd led the team in playing time with 30 minutes in the game.  That was followed up by rookie Breanna Stewart, who logged 29 minutes.  Crystal Langhorne did not play any minutes and it is presumed that this is because the Storm wanted to evaluate other post-players.  Of all the Storm players, Krystal Thomas played the least amount of minutes (10) in the game.  However, Thomas did grab six rebounds in limited minutes; which was second best next to Stewart.  Blake Deitrick and Lexi Eaton Rydalch both logged nearly 15 minutes.  Angel Goodrich played slightly less at 12 minutes.  All three guards will be competing for roster spots.  None of them had great games.  Blake had zero points, zero rebounds, and just one assist.  Lexi scored 8 points, but it was on very poor shooting (1-5 FG).  Lexi did manage to get to the line for ten free throw attempts, which was impressive.

Head Coach Jenny Boucek had this to say after the first game, "I think we'll learn a lot from it ... it's our starting point and you can't really recreate a WNBA game without playing one.  You can't do it in practice; as much as you try to bring guys in, it's just different.  So I think we'll learn a lot."

Fortunately, for Storm fans, Seattle played better in Game 2 of the preseason down in Phoenix against the Mercury on Sunday.  The Storm would win 76-70, to finish the preseason with a 1-1 record.  Once again the Mercury were without their top players, Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, and DeWanna Bonner.  However, the Storm were without Breanna Stewart as she was back in Connecticut for her graduation ceremony at UConn.  The Storm also did not play last season's leading scorer, Crystal Langhorne, who once again sat out the preseason game.  We haven't heard anything about Langhorne dealing with an injury.  So at this time, it is presumed that this was just a coach's decision to allow the team to evaluate other players that are on the bubble of making the roster.

Alysha Clark was an absolute star in Sunday's game.  She led all players in scoring with 20 points, on an extremely efficient 8-11 FG shooting.  The only shots she missed, were from outside the 3-point range.  And even then, she still shot 40% from outside the arc.  Jewell Loyd, continues to play very well.  She filled the stat sheet up on Sunday's game as she scored 9 points, had 8 assists, and 6 rebounds.  Loyd led the team in assists and rebounds.  The eight assists for Jewell is quite impressive and continues to show her growth as not only an effective scorer in the league, but also as an effective distributer.

As far as camp competition goes.  A look at the Center position, Markeisha Gatling got the start with Breanna Stewart out of the game due to her graduation ceremony.  Gatling played 20 minutes and had a reasonably productive game.  She scored five points and added five rebounds with one blocked shot.  Krystal Thomas, the other Center in camp, also played about 20 minutes.  And put up slightly worse numbers, with three points, three rebounds and one blocked shot.   Thomas also fouled out, which is never great to see when playing less than twenty minutes in a game.

On the guard competition, Lexi Eaton Rydalch got the most playing time (22 minutes), followed by Blake Dietrick and Angel Goodrich who both had 15 minutes.  In the second game, Lexi only had four points and did not get to the foul line at all; which was a big contrast from the 1st game.  Blake added seven points and two assists, while Angel Goodrich had just two points, but dished out five assists.

Seattle Storm Team President and General Manager, Alisha Valavanis, along with head coach Jenny Boucek will have tough decisions to make before the regular season starts on Sunday May 15th.  Will the team make roster decisions based on veteran experience or the potential for youth with a greater ceiling?  Will they choose the height with true Center/Post-Players or go with a more guard heavy roster?  We now have less than a week to go, so we'll find out soon.

Make sure to keep checking back to SonicsRising and StormChasers as we'll have the latest coverage of your Seattle Storm.