Veterans take control early at Storm training camp. Seattle opens the exhibition season May 3 against Phoenix.

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The Storm returns every starter and its top nine scorers, which in theory should make things easier on third-year coach Jenny Boucek.

And for the most part, the veterans led the way Sunday on the first day of WNBA training camp.

“I thought it was a great first day,” Boucek said. “I thought they did a wonderful job of setting the tone. We had great leadership from out vets and I think that’s why the practice was able to move as quickly as it was because our vets were setting great examples.”

Boucek said the Storm, which finished 16-18 last season, wants to build on a seventh-place finish in the 12-team league. She also touched on starting training camp without star point guard Sue Bird, who underwent a left knee scope this month and will miss the next few weeks.

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(On this year’s goals) “Expectations are dangerous because they’re all relative. Every team in the league got better. This league is the hardest in the world pound for pound and we got great respect for the league. Our focus is to just get better every day. How we end up stacking up we’ll find out. But we just want to be better than we were last year. We want to be better every day than the day before and we’ll see where that leads us.

(On newcomer Carolyn Swords) “It’s a different look than we’ve had. We feel like it’s going to help us against certain teams and certain matchups. And also to give teams different looks. Stewie floating around at different positions helps us. Her versatility is something that we want to maximize. So the more different looks we can give maximizes her talents and that really helps our team.”

Storm coach Jenny Boucek reflects on first day of practice.

(On not having Bird for practice) “It’s a challenge and it’s an opportunity. I’ve been working with Sue off and on now for – what is it? – 14 years. It’s a comfort zone for me. She’s obviously one of the best point guards to ever play the game. I think the best point guard to ever play. Not having her out there is a little bit of a challenge because she has a way of modeling things and bringing out the best in people. And so we didn’t have that on the court. But it’s also an opportunity because Sue is not unfortunately going to be able to play forever. And we’ve got now players that are going to need to grow into bigger roles and bigger leadership voices. So it’s a challenge on one hand, and it’s a great opportunity for our team.”

(On having Bird on the sidelines at practice) “She’s essentially an assistant coach at this point. Mabye she’s more like the head coach. But she’s a tremendous leader. But she does lead a lot by example, so while it’s helpful to have her here we really appreciate all the feedback she gives them (the young point guards). She also will model a lot of things that you can’t put into words.”