Storm coach Jenny Boucek is reportedly under fire in a story citing unnamed players critical of the team's performance.
The Storm embarks on it’s longest road trip of the season, a five-game cross-country trek that begins Sunday at Minnesota, which leads the WNBA with an 18-2 record.
Seattle swings through Texas for a pair of games in 24 hours – at Dallas on Friday and San Antonio on Saturday. The Storm then heads to Connecticut to face the surprising Eastern Conference powerhouse on August 8 before finishing the trip with an Aug. 12 game at Phoenix.
It’s a challenging stretch for any team, especially the Storm, which is 2-6 on the road this season, including wins at Dallas and San Antonio.
With 12 games remaining in the season, Seattle’s road trip will almost certainly have an impact on its postseason aspirations and could determine if Jenny Boucek remains with the team.
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The third-year Storm coach came under fire in a recent story by Summit Hoops, which cited unnamed players who criticized Boucek’s coaching acumen and decision-making.
In the story, Storm general manager Alisha Valavanis declined to give Boucek a vote of confidence or commit to her for the remainder of the season.
“I am working closely with our head coach on how we can recalibrate, how we can do everything possible to make a playoff run,” Valavanis said.
For a team comprised of All-Stars Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird and a young rising star in Jewell Loyd, missing the postseason could be detrimental for Boucek, who is 36-54 since taking over. The Storm was 10-24 in 2015 and missed the playoffs. Last year, Seattle was 16-18 and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
The Storm seemingly shelved any acrimony within the team on Friday with its most dominant offensive performance of the season during a 109-93 win against Dallas at KeyArena.
Seattle was two points shy of tying a franchise scoring record while setting a team record by shooting 61.5 percent from the field. The Storm tied franchise records with 40 field goals and 29 assists while every starter scored at least 14 points.
“This was huge,” 15-year veteran Sue Bird said. “I generally don’t look at the standings until I absolutely need to. I have an awareness of them, but I’m not following the game-by-game scenarios. But I think we all knew that this was going to be a huge game. This had playoff implications.”
Seattle is tied with Atlanta for eighth in the standings at 10-12. Only eight teams advance to the postseason in the 12-team WNBA.
With the exception of San Antonio (3-20), each of the team’s on Seattle’s road trip are jockeying for a playoff spot. Connecticut (13-9) and Phoenix (12-10) are chasing a top-four finishes, which guarantees a first-round bye.
Back when the Storm started 4-1, they were considered a shoo-in to make the postseason and a darkhorse contender for the WNBA title.
Two months later, Seattle is inexplicably closer to the league’s bottom feeders than the WNBA elite.
“We know the formula,” Boucek said after Friday’s win. “This is nothing knew. We know what our formula is. It’s just been moments when I think for mental reasons we’ve gotten away from it. It’s not been physical.
“We got the wind knocked out of us with a lot of heartbreaking losses and it made us a little bit wobbly. But we’re very clear on how we need to play and how we can have success in this league. It’s just overcoming some of those obstacles mentally. Together. And rebuilding that confidence and our mojo.”