The Storm is opening a four-game road swing with one goal: play better defense.
Defending has been the team’s signature since coach Brian Agler was hired in 2008. But Seattle allowed opponents to average 80.5 points in its season-opening losses to Los Angeles and Phoenix last week.
“If we don’t score, then the other team shouldn’t score either,” said Storm forward Camille Little after Phoenix shot 55.9 percent from the field to beat Seattle 81-64 on Saturday.
Agler held two long practices before the team left Wednesday for its trip. Seattle (0-2) plays back-to-back games at Connecticut (0-3) Friday and Washington (0-1) Saturday. Seattle plays at New York (1-1) Tuesday and finishes the trip at Atlanta (2-0) on May 30.
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The Sun and Mystics are two of the more inexperienced rosters in the league. Connecticut plays rookie post Chiney Ogwumike, the No. 1 overall draft pick, while Washington starts a second-year center in Emma Meesseman.
Seattle isn’t as focused on the scouting report as it is on finding its own groove, however. All-star Sue Bird is returning after missing last season due to a knee injury. She’s leading the lineup, with All-Star forward Crystal Langhorne as her new post in place of three-time MVP Lauren Jackson (knee).
Off the bench, Bird has a new backcourt teammate in Temeka Johnson, a nine-year veteran. Three-point specialist Jenna O’Hea is also learning how to play power forward for the first time in her career.
“There’s always a comfort level that comes when you’ve played with people an extended period of time, and this group hasn’t been able to develop that just yet,” Bird said. “But we’ve got to figure it out quick. Before you know it, it’s 15, 20 games into the season, so obviously we’ve got to do it fast.”
In addition to the new teammates and roles, Agler is still evaluating the roster and rotations. He’s even thinking about tinkering with the starting lineup to get the team playing better.
The offense averaged 66.5 points and 16.5 turnovers in the opening two losses. Little is the team’s leading scorer (11 points per game), while Langhorne is the leading rebounder (5.0).
Yet, Agler still expects the defense to be consistent with a veteran group.
“I’ll be surprised if we don’t get it going,” he said of having the time on the road to build chemistry. “There’s a lot of things to take into consideration in terms of it being early in the year and having new people.
“But we have some people who’ve been here a period of time and they understand what the expectations are, so we’ve got to address that first. If you don’t have the energy and excitement to play, what you do X’s- and O’s-wise doesn’t matter.”
• Langhorne, a seven-year vet, is playing for the first time against a former team. She was drafted by Washington in 2008 and became a two-time All-Star for the Mystics, leading Washington to three postseason appearances.
“People told me when the game was (scheduled) before I could even look,” said Langhorne of fans and friends looking forward to her return. “I’m not going to focus too much on them because it’s just another game that I want to win.”
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067