The Storm (6-3), which lost 67-64 to visiting Atlanta on Sunday, hosts the Chicago Sky (3-5) on Tuesday at KeyArena. Seattle shot 33.8 percent from the field against Atlanta to drop to 6-3.
After Monday’s practice, Dan Hughes huddled with Storm star Breanna Stewart — who the previous night struggled through one of the most frustrating games of her young WNBA career.
The Seattle coach needed to make sure the team’s leading scorer hadn’t lost any confidence or began second-guessing herself after a miserable outing in which four of her five fouls were on the offensive end.
Stewart’s foul troubles resulted in her playing a career-low 19 minutes, 30 seconds and contributed to Sunday’s 67-64 upset loss to Atlanta. The dynamic third-year forward finished with a season-low 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting.
“I told her not to change a thing,” Hughes said. “I watched every foul. … I just said have a short-term memory towards that.
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“There were no teaching points after watching all five fouls. There was nothing where I went to her and said watch your hands here or do this there. Nothing like that at all. I slowed it down and I was really looking for something, but didn’t see it.”
In essence, Hughes expects Stewart and the Storm (6-3) to move past Sunday’s abysmal offensive outing and focus on Tuesday’s 7 p.m. matchup with the Chicago Sky (3-5) at KeyArena.
“In a player’s mind, they want to get back on the court as quickly as possible,” Hughes said. “But first we had to have a good film session and looked at the reality of yesterday. We had to do that. It wasn’t just preparation for Chicago. This was a time where we looked at ourselves and a time to be honest with ourselves.”
Normally when the Storm loses, it’s the defense that breaks down — as it did in a season-opening 87-82 defeat to Phoenix or a 94-90 loss at Dallas.
On Sunday, Seattle’s defense held stout and limited Atlanta to a season-low 67 points — 11 fewer than the Dream’s season average.
The Storm also negated Atlanta’s three-point attack (3 of 19), won the rebounding battle (44-36) and kept the Dream off the free-throw line (8 of 11).
“If we want to be the type of team that we want to be, then it’s two ends of the floor,” Hughes said. “Normally, the discussion has been about our (defense), but last night it was the other way around. We didn’t play both ends of the floor in that game so it put a stress on the system.
“The shots were fairly normal. I thought they disrupted our ability to move the basketball side to side.”
The Storm shot 33.8 percent from the field, 15.4 percent on three-pointers (4 of 26) and 58.8 percent at the line (10 of 17) — season lows in each category.
Still, Seattle players believe that game was an aberration, considering the Storm has been one of the league leaders in nearly every offensive category this season.
“It was one of those games where we were running uphill and battling all night,” guard Jewell Loyd said. “We got frustrated with calls. We got frustrated with missing easy shots. We knew it was going to be a dogfight all night. We’re looking at as we’re right where we want to be defensively and we just have to execute a little bit better offensively.”
Chicago might be the perfect opponent to help the Storm reclaim its offensive rhythm.
The Sky ranks next to last in the WNBA while allowing 86.1 points per game. Chicago is also concluding a three-game West Coast trip and has lost five of its last six games.
Still, veteran guard Sue Bird cautioned the Storm not to overlook anyone.
“Even the years when Minnesota or Los Angeles was dominant, or us in 2010, winning is never a guarantee,” she said. “The difference between winning and losing in this league is so very small.
“That’s why you have to constantly remind yourself individually and collectively as a team that you can’t get too high with the wins and you can’t get too low with the losses. You learn from each game and you move on.”