Stewart’s arrival and the expected ascension of Jewell Loyd, last year’s Rookie of the Year, is likely to reduce shots for Langhorne. If that happens, Langhorne isn’t complaining.
Ultimately Crystal Langhorne might be remembered as the one who bridged the eras between the two greatest post players in Storm history — recently retired superstar Lauren Jackson and No. 1 overall draft pick Breanna Stewart.
But the nine-year veteran isn’t done writing her legacy.
“Sometimes I still can’t believe it,” Langhorne, a former Maryland star, said when asked about her longevity. “I’m so happy to still be playing this game. It’s just crazy. I’m one of the oldest people on the team. Wow.”
At 29, Langhorne is the second-oldest player on a Seattle team that’s undergoing a youth makeover.
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Ten of the 17 players on the preseason training-camp roster have fewer than four years of pro experience. At the moment, the team’s nucleus appears to be Stewart and second-year vets Jewell Loyd and Ramu Tokashiki.
Conceivably Langhorne, who led the Storm in scoring and rebounding the past two years, will need to adjust to a different role entering her third season with the Storm.
But then, maybe not.
“Lang is somebody in years past who has established herself as a scorer, and a scorer on the block in particular,” said Sue Bird, a 14-year veteran. “She can score and really score down low. She’s a player that we look to go to whether it’s in pick-and-rolls or just setup plays. When you have a player like that, you want to utilize that.”
A two-time WNBA All-Star, Langhorne arrived to Seattle in a draft-day trade two years ago that sent Tianna Hawkins, the Storm’s 2013 first-round draft pick, and the No. 7 overall pick in 2014 (Connecticut point guard Bria Hartley) to the Washington Mystics.
Langhorne was brought in to replace Jackson, who sat out due to injuries. Even though she hasn’t been as productive as the presumptive Hall of Fame center, Langhorne carried the Storm during a downturn that included two missed playoffs after a 10-year postseason run.
In 2014 she tied for high-scoring honors at 12.9 points per game while averaging 7.4 rebounds. And in 2015, she averaged 11.1 points and 5.7 rebounds to pace the Storm.
Stewart’s arrival and the expected ascension of Loyd, last year’s Rookie of the Year, are likely to reduce shots for Langhorne.
If that happens, Langhorne isn’t complaining.
“I’m excited to play with Breanna,” she said. “She’s just a different player. Athletically she’s long. She’s mobile. She can shoot. She can do so many things. She’s a multifaceted player. Playing with someone like her is only going to make it easier for me.”
It remains to be seen if Langhorne’s relative lack of size — she’s 6 feet 2 — will be a detriment for a team that ranked last in the WNBA last year in rebounding (30.4 per game) and rebounding differential (minus 3.6).
She surrenders nearly three inches to the top centers in the league and is dwarfed by Phoenix’s Brittney Griner (6-9) and Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles (6-6).
Still, the Storm expects to improve offensively from a versatile frontcourt that’s likely to include Langhorne, Stewart and Tokashiki. Seattle ranked next to last in scoring in 2015, averaging 70.4 points.
“Lang is a very important piece,” coach Jenny Boucek said. “How she plays this year is going to be one of the most important facets of our team.”