Hoop dreams are high for the Seattle Storm

May 20, 2024, 5:18 PM

Photo: The Seattle Storm played their opening game on May 14, 2024....

The Seattle Storm played their opening game on May 14, 2024. (Photo: Jane Gershovich, Seattle Storm)

(Photo: Jane Gershovich, Seattle Storm)

Hoop dreams are high for the WNBA season, following NCAA women’s playoff games that garnered record attention. Hoping to capitalize on the momentum: the Seattle Storm.

KIRO Newsradio spoke with several key members of Seattle’s professional women’s basketball team at the team’s new 50,000 square-foot practice facility and headquarters in Interbay, where photos of Storm legend — and newly minted member of the ownership team — Sue Bird, loom large.

New to the team is Nika Muhl.

“I love Seattle,” Mulh said.

The native of Croatia is coming off an exciting NCAA women’s basketball season with the University of Connecticut Huskies. She was the Storm’s first draft pick this season.

“These women that I’m surrounded with are legends,” Muhl said, looking at the Storm’s practice court. “They’re amazing. They’re just inspiring to me, personally.”

Commonalities between Nika Muhl and legend Sue Bird

There are bound to be some comparisons between Muhl and Bird. Both are point guards. While the Storm retired Sue Bird’s #10 jersey number, Muhl wore #10 in college.

But Muhl said that doesn’t necessarily add to the pressure of her rookie year.

“It’s more like a humbling thing,” she said.

“All these little similarities that we have. It’s definitely a cool thing,” she added, gesturing to a photo of Bird. “It’s just a constant reminder of how hard I have to work.”

More on the team: Storm announce the return of Sue Bird 

For Muhl and others who are new to the team, there are plenty of established “greats” on the court to learn from.

“Amazing players,” said Muhl. “I’m just trying to learn from them as much as I can, you know, take everything in and be a sponge.”

One of those veterans is Jewell Loyd. The point and shooting guard was drafted by the Storm in 2015.

“We’ve been building this season and I’ve been here the longest. I’m definitely a veteran on this team, so my job is to come in and do my job and lead when I need to lead and have fun,” Loyd said.

When asked how she helps new players adjust to the team, Loyd was matter of fact.

“At the end of the day it’s just basketball,” she said, indicating that every player is here because the team saw potential in them. “No added pressure. Just come in here. Learn. Be a sponge and do what you do.”

What will the Seattle Storm bring to this season?

As for what it’ll take to get this team into the playoffs, “I think people are still trying to figure that out. You know, every year it changes. We’ve obviously won championships here. We’ve had different dynamics with different teams, but every team has a different journey,” Loyd said.

Storm Head Coach Noelle Quinn commented about her role in helping create a championship-caliber team

“A lot of things, come into play,” Quinn said. “Instilling confidence in our players is putting them in positions where they can be successful on the floor. It is coaching them and guiding them to play the way that I’ve envisioned them playing. It takes time.”

As this team works to find its winning rhythm, they are aware that perhaps more eyes — than ever — are on them, because of the surge in popularity of women’s basketball. But to them, it’s not daunting. In fact, it’s long overdue.

“Finally! No, it was not a surprise to me,” Muhl said. “We’ve got to give our flowers to all our vets and the people (who came) before us because, without them, women’s basketball wouldn’t have the opportunity to go even further.”

More sports: UW star basketball player is living her dream, looking toward the future

Loyd shared the same sentiment.

“It’s about time,” Loyd said. “Women’s sports have been, obviously, growing and we’ve been asking for attention for a long time and now it’s here. Now it’s our job to produce and keep doing what we’re doing.”

Quinn agreed.

“I love that we are in a time that eyes are one women’s basketball. The time is now, the time is tomorrow — in the future as well,” Quinn said. “I’m proud to be a part of this movement.”

The WNBA Storm welcome the Indiana Fever — and Caitlin Clark — to Seattle on Wednesday, May 22.

KIRO Newsradio

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Hoop dreams are high for the Seattle Storm