GAME: Los Angeles (0-0) at Seattle (0-0). WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday. WHERE: Key Arena. MEETING: 1st. TV: KONG.
The Seattle Storm and their revamped roster will tip 0ff the first half of their 2012 regular season at Key Arena Friday night against the Los Angeles Sparks. With former league MVP Lauren Jackson opting to spend the season’s first two months preparing for the Summer Olympics with the Australian National Team, coach Brian Agler is forced to patch together an established group of veterans with the team’s recently added young talent.
The Storm added frontcourt depth with the acquisition of Ann Wauters and 37-year-old Tina Thompson. Thompson and Wauters are expected to help fill another void, when Seattle sent forward Swin Cash to the Chicago Sky in exchange for the second pick in the 2012 WNBA draft. Both former No. 1 draft picks themselves, Wauters and Thompson will offer an inside-out dynamic Agler hopes will create match-up problems for opponents. Thompson has averaged 15.6 PPG over her 15-year-career that spans the WNBA’s existence.
The Storm will also look to rookie combo forward Shekinna Stricklen to complement Sue Bird’s scoring. The No. 2 overall draft pick averaged 15.4 PPG her senior year playing for Pat Summit at Tennessee.
Bird said Wednesday on the team website that Stricklen’s athleticism allows her to be more versatile on both ends of the court. In staying uniform with slightly cliché guidance from any established team leader, Bird said Stricklen’s must let the game come to her to experience early season success.
“I would love to be a six-whatever guard because she can just do so many things,” she said. “The first day of practice she knocked down five threes in a row. The best thing for her is to not think too much, not to get worried about trying to run the play or make the right play –just play.”
SERIES: Season opener for both. Seattle is 16-17 at home and 24-30 all-time against LA.
LAST GAME (Seattle, Sept. 19): The Storm lost to the Phoenix Mercury 77-75 in the Western Conference semifinals.
LAST GAME (Los Angeles, Sept. 10): The Sparks beat Chicago but missed the 2011 playoffs thanks to a 15-19 record.
- After the opener, the Storm hit the road for seven of their next nine games.
- The Storm are 29-33 over the past decade when playing without Lauren Jackson.
- Sue Bird spent her off-season playing for the Women’s Basketball Club Spartak Moscow Region. Other WNBA stars to play for the team include Jackson and Diana Taurasi.
- The recently acquired Wauters hasn’t played in a WNBA game since 2009. That year, she averaged nearly 13 points and six rebounds a game for the San Antonio Silver Stars.
- Tina Thompson was the first pick in the WNBA history. The Houston Comets selected her No. 1 overall in 1997.
- Head Coach Brian Agler is 91-45 in his first four years in Seattle. The former women’s coach at Kansas State has a 133-99 career mark over his eight-year WNBA coaching career.
- The Storm will be televised in 13 of their 32 regular-season games. They can be heard on 1090 KPTK-AM 1090.
LOS ANGELES STATS/NOTES:
- The Sparks return just five regulars from last year’s team. In the offseason, they added Alana Beard. The former Duke Blue Devil is a four-time All-Star who spent the first seven years of her career with the Washington Mystics.
- Friday night will mark Nneka Ogwumike’s WNBA debut. The No. 1 overall draft pick spent the past four seasons leading the Stanford Cardinal to four NCAA Final Fours.
- Leading scorer Candace Parker returns for her fifth season with LA. The former WNBA MVP averaged 18.5 PPG while shooting 51 percent from the field in 17 games during the 2011 regular season.
- LA has won two championships since the league’s inaugural season in 1997. The Sparks were one of league’s eight original teams.
- Former Sparks player Lisa Leslie became part of LA’s ownership group last August. Leslie is the only former player with a current stake in a WNBA franchise.
COACHES: Brian Agler is in his fifth season as Seattle’s head coach. Carol Ross is in her first season as Los Angeles’head coach.
COMING UP: The Storm travel to LA Tues for a rematch with the Sparks.
Seattle Storm 2012 Schedule/Results
|5/18/12||vs. Los Angeles||—||—||—|
|5/22/12||at Los Angeles||—||—||—|
|6/3/12||at Los Angeles||—||—||—|
|6/9/12||at San Antonio||—||—||—|
|6/22/12||vs. San Antonio||—||—||—|
|6/30/12||at New York||—||—||—|
|7/7/12||at Los Angeles||—||—||—|
|8/18/12||vs. Los Angeles||—||—||—|
|8/26/12||vs. New York||—||—||—|
|9/14/12||at San Antonio||—||—||—|
|9/21/12||vs. San Antonio||—||—||—|