With Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird back, the Storm’s coaching formula is simple: ‘Don’t mess them up’
On a recent Zoom call, Storm coach Gary Kloppenburg was queried about the abundance of talent on the 2020 squad, augmented by the return of superstars Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird.
“No pressure, right?”
Not exactly. But the Storm finally gets a fighting chance to defend the WNBA title it won in 2018. That opportunity was effectively yanked away last year when both Stewart (torn Achilles) and Bird (knee surgery) missed the season.
The Storm still went a respectable 18-16, and now has the benefit of merging the experience under fire gained by large swaths of the roster with the proven expertise of Bird and Stewart.
Throw in some new blood with the additions of veterans Epiphanny Price and Morgan Tuck and rookie Ezi Magbegor, and well, you have a team that is everyone’s favorite to garner its fourth championship.
Which is, of course, precisely the mindset they are fighting against. In an abbreviated 22-game season — which begins July 25 for the Storm in the Bradenton, Florida, bubble — weird things can, and probably will, happen. Bird, the wise, old hand in her 17th season, is happy to remind everyone that nothing is guaranteed.
“Do I think right out of the gate we’re probably in the top part of the league?” she said. “Yeah, but that’s just on paper. One thing I’ve learned in this league, it doesn’t matter if you won the year before or have the same team back. Paper is paper. It means nothing.
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