The winless Seattle Storm return to the Key Arena Friday night reeling from a tough early-season schedule to take on the Tulsa Shock before returning to the road for a five-game swing.
Despite the surprising start from leading scorer Ann Wauters, the Storm have struggled in the paint while dropping to 0-3 for the first time since their inaugural 2000 season.
Now in her eleventh year in the league, former WNBA Rookie of the Year Sue Bird will look to rebound from her own rough start that has seen her scoring average drop to just nine points per game.
Fresh off an 84-71 loss to the Minnesota Lynx where Seattle jacked 34-three’s, the Storm will try to increase their presence inside the arc against a Tulsa team ranked last in the league defensively.
“We haven’t really been executing well enough to get ourselves easy buckets,” Bird said after their loss Sunday on the team’s website. ”At the same time, a lot of what paint scoring can be is easy buckets in transition. That comes from our defense.”
Bird will look to continue to feed Wauters down low as Seattle continues to search for stopgap offensive solutions while Lauren Jackson trains for the Summer Olympics in Australia. The Storm is currently last in the league in two-point field goal percentage, making under 40 percent of their shots inside the arc.
After taking a three-year hiatus in Belgium, the 31-year-old Wauters has reestablished herself as a formidable interior presence, averaging 15 points and eight rebounds per game. Head coach Brian Agler will need Wauters to continue to pull down rebounds as the Storm enter the most difficult part of their schedule. Minnesota outrebounded Seattle 40-27 on Sunday.
COACHES: Brian Agler is in his fifth season as Seattle’s head coach. Gary Kloppenburg is in his first season in Tulsa.
COMING UP: Seattle takes on L.A. for the third time in five games Sunday in Los Angeles.
SEATTLE STORM 2012 SCHEDULE/RESULTS
|5/18/12||vs. Los Angeles||L||66-72||0-1|
|5/22/12||at Los Angeles||L||74-61||0-2|
|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||—||—||—|