Before scattering to various points around the globe, the Storm gathered one last time Wednesday morning for exit meetings with coach Noelle Quinn. 

The disappointment from a 97-92 loss to the Las Vegas Aces in Game 4 of the WNBA semifinals, which eliminated them from the playoffs, was still fresh in their minds and will linger for days — if not weeks and months — during the offseason. 

“It hurts,” said 35-year-old Briann January, who is retiring from the WNBA. “It hurts a lot to end a season like that with a team that we have. But I’m still grateful for a season like this.” 

Despite falling short of their goal of capturing the Storm’s fifth WNBA championship, Quinn was somewhat upbeat about the resiliency of a team that was besieged by COVID-related absences at the start of the season, which contributed to a 5-5 start. 

“It’s disappointing to not complete the ultimate goal, which is to win a championship,” she said. “We did accomplish some positive things. There’s some growth in a lot of players. A lot of growth in me as a coach and as a person. Trying to just focus on that and close the book on this chapter with our exit interviews. I’ll take a few days off, (then) get my offseason preparation going and get back rolling with our prep for next season.” 

In this first of two season reviews, we take a look at two key acquisitions that went right and wrong this season for the Storm.

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Gabby Williams found a home

Admittedly, Williams was just about done with the WNBA following an ugly breakup with the Chicago Sky, a contract suspension that forced her to miss the 2021 season and a couple of trades that led her to the Storm in February. 

“Not speaking of Seattle specifically, but overall my vision of me in the WNBA really changed after my year here in Seattle,” she said. “It was complicated in Chicago.  

“Now after having this year and having so much fun in Seattle, getting to play the basketball I wanted to play, growing as a player and playing with amazing teammates in front of amazing fans and the staff — being taken care of the way I was — it did change my outlook on the W in general. And it is a league that I do wish to stay a part of, of course if I’m able to.” 

It took some time, but Quinn found ways to best utilize Williams, a 5-11 forward who is one of the league’s most athletic and versatile players. The Storm used her as a primary defender and a secondary ballhandler who initiated the offense. 

Williams offset her 25% three-point shooting with a career-high 111 assists, which ranked fourth among WNBA forwards behind Alyssa Thomas, Candace Parker and Emma Meeseman. 

Among that quartet, Williams had the second fewest turnovers (52). 

Williams’ 179 rebounds is third on the team and ranks second among WNBA players under 6 feet. 

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“Gabby is just scratching the surface,” guard Jewell Loyd said last month after Williams connected with her on a behind-the-back pass for a layup during an 89-77 win against Minnesota. “When we get out in transition, it’s a problem.” 

Still, Quinn delivered the highest endorsement of Williams when she included her along with Stewart, Loyd and Magbegor while talking about Seattle’s core players who need to return next season. 

Tina Charles didn’t deliver a championship

The Storm took a big swing when they signed Charles, who negotiated a contract divorce from the Phoenix Mercury following a messy 6-10 start. 

Bringing in the 6-4 center who was the 2012 WNBA MVP, eight-time WNBA All-Star and one of the league’s all-time greats was supposed to elevate the Storm’s title prospects. 

In reality, they never got any better with Charles. 

Before her arrival, the Storm were 11-7 and fourth in the WNBA standings. During 18 games with Charles, Seattle was 11-7 and finished 22-14 for the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. 

In the postseason, the Storm went 3-3 and Charles was wildly inconsistent while making an impact rebounding, including setting a Storm record with 18 boards in Game 1 of the semis. 

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But Charles struggled with her shot, particularly at the free-throw line where she was 4 of 14 in the postseason, including two missed foul shots in the final seconds of regulation that contributed to a heartbreaking overtime loss in Game 3. 

On Tuesday night — the biggest game of the season — Charles finished with two points on 1-for-7 shooting in 23 minutes. 

The Storm spoke glowingly about Charles, who was the only player that opted out of media interviews Wednesday. 

“I don’t think we get to the semis without her,” said Sue Bird who helped recruit Charles to Seattle. “I don’t think we finish fourth without her. That is both a sign of her talent, but also a sign of to nobody’s fault (Mercedes Russell) not being able to play. You can’t go through a season with three post players. That’s just not a reality. That would have been really difficult. We would have been scrambling to figure things out for the remainder of the season. … To add a player of her caliber, it’s literally the only reason we got to where we got.” 

Quinn said: “I was appreciative of her professionalism and what she brought. Obviously, we didn’t finish the ultimate goal, which is to win a championship, but I thought she conducted herself in a positive manner throughout.” 

The move adversely impacted promising third-year center Ezi Magbegor who was averaging 12.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, a league-leading 2.7 blocks and 30.3 minutes per game before Charles’ arrival. 

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In the last 15 regular-season games, Magbegor averaged 6.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 0.7 blocks and 19.4 minutes. 

“I had to adjust to the bench role,” Magbegor said.  

“I feel like I could have done more for my team at times, especially towards the back end of the season,” said Magbegor who had difficulty adjusting to the bench. “As a professional, you have to be quick to adjust to that role. That’s on me. Going forward, being able to adjust quicker.” 

But when it mattered most, the Storm, which became the first team to start four No. 1 overall draft picks, needed more from its newest star. 

“It’s disappointing when you stack a team like this and get two veteran seasoned players off of waivers, you expect to win,” said center Jantel Lavender, who joined the Storm after negotiating a contract divorce from Indiana. “When you come together with a team that has so much talent, it’s a lot of work you have to do outside of being good basketball players. You got to really come together a little bit more. Sometimes, it gets overlooked with talent that you have to be together like all the time. This team came together so sporadically. I just think we didn’t have that a lot. And that matters in games like yesterday.”