A sellout crowd is expected as the Seattle Storm play at the Connecticut Sun on Friday.

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Breanna Stewart is headed back to Connecticut. But the atmosphere will likely be different than when the Storm rookie led the University of Connecticut to four consecutive women’s NCAA championships.

Seattle will play the Connecticut Sun on Friday. A team spokesman said Wednesday the Sun’s 9,320-seat Mohegan Sun Arena is a near sellout. If sold out, Stewart will join Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore as former UConn stars to draw a sellout crowd for their first games back in the state as part of a visiting team.

“The thing I remember most is there were anti-Sue Bird signs,” said Bird, who had a team-high seven assists in a two-point win at Connecticut in 2003. It was the Sun’s inaugural season in the state.


Storm @ Connecticut, 4 p.m.

“It was probably a good sign for the league,” Bird continued. “But I remember thinking, ‘Is this the state of Connecticut, still?’ It’s going to be a crazy crowd for (Stewart), too … there’s going to be a lot of people, a lot of attention, a lot of stuff.”

Stewart, a versatile 6-foot-4 forward, was named Most Outstanding player during all four of the Huskies’ title runs. She’s a three-time AP player of the year and the fifth UConn player to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft.

The Storm tried to minimize Stewart’s commitments for her anticipated return. The matchup is the beginning of a four-game road trip, Seattle’s longest in the first half of the season.

And while Stewart is eager to see her parents — they are traveling from Syracuse, N.Y., to see her play in person for the first time as a professional — the league Rookie of the Month for May says she is focused on the game’s outcome.

Seattle is 1-2 on the road entering Friday’s game and a combined 7-30 on the road the past three seasons. The Storm (3-5) defeated Connecticut 93-81 at KeyArena in May, Stewart contributing 11 points.

The Sun is winless (0-4) at home.

“It’ll be a nice homecoming,” Stewart said after practice Tuesday. “Sometimes I forget that I’m so far (away) that my parents aren’t in striking distance. So it’ll be a fun atmosphere, but I’m focused on trying to get a ‘W.’ ”

Stewart is averaging 16.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game for the Storm. The stats are comparable to her decorated college career, and Seattle coach Jenny Boucek doesn’t believe the Connecticut crowd will notice much difference in the player they affectionately call “Stewie.”

“They are going to see her (get) challenged more,” Boucek said. “But every time something happens that’s surprising for Stewie, she gets excited about what it’s going to bring out in her game.”