Storm coach Brian Agler, Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors renew rivalry in WNBA Finals
Storm coach Brian Agler and Atlanta Dream coach Marynell Meadors have known each other since the 1980s and have worked together to pull off trades. Their teams face each other in the WNBA Finals, beginning Sunday at KeyArena.
Seattle Times staff reporter
TrendsettersWith a sweep, the Storm would become the third team in WNBA history to go undefeated in the postseason. Houston (2000) and Los Angeles (2002) went 6-0. The WNBA Finals increased to best-of-five series in 2005, so the Storm will have to win seven games. A look at historical marks set by the Storm this season:
• The Storm (28-6, .824) surpassed the 2005 Seahawks (13-3, .813) for the best regular-season win percentage in Seattle pro sports history.
• The Storm went undefeated at home, joining the 2001 Los Angeles Sparks as the only teams in WNBA history to do so and becoming the first team in league history to win 17 home games during the regular season.
• The Storm won 28 games, tying the record for the most wins in WNBA history (with the 2000 and 2001 L.A. Sparks, both 28-4).
• The Storm won 13 games in a row from June 18-July 30, the longest streak in team history and the third longest in WNBA history (after Los Angeles' 18-game streak from June 26-Aug. 11, 2001 and Houston's 15-game streak, June 27-July 30, 1998).
• The Storm started the season 20-2, equaling the WNBA record for best start after 22 games (the 1998 Houston Comets started 25-2 and finished 27-3).
• The Storm won 20 games or more in three consecutive seasons (2008, 2009, 2010), joining just four other franchises to have done that.
• The Storm clinched the Western Conference title on July 27 after just 23 games.
• The Storm secured the league's best record on Aug. 10, clinching home-court advantage for all playoff rounds.
• The Storm swept Los Angeles and Phoenix 5-0, the first time the Storm has ever beaten an opponent five times in the same regular season. The Storm also swept San Antonio (4-0), going 14-0 against the four other Western Conference playoff teams.
• The Storm did not lose a season series to any opponent. Four Eastern Conference teams split with the Storm 1-1.
• The Storm beat Tulsa by 46 points, 111-65, on Aug. 7 to break the WNBA record for the largest margin of victory (previously 45 by Houston at Washington, 110-65, Aug. 17, 1998) and tying the team record for most points scored in a game.
• The Storm won 14 games (14-6) when trailing after three quarters.
Brian Agler and Marynell Meadors would never make it on a reality competition television show. Neither would pull the sly, undercutting tricks that create drama for ratings on "Survivor," "Amazing Race" or "Big Brother."
"The good thing about Brian and I is we're very honest and upfront with each other," Meadors said. "We don't play games with each other. He's very professional in his approach to everything, and I've always enjoyed working with him."
So, when Agler needed Camille Little to help his depth in the post, Meadors worked a deal, ending up with a draft choice that landed coveted point guard Shalee Lehning. When Meadors wanted former Storm forward Iziane Castro Marques to complement Brazilian countrywoman Erika de Souza as the 2008 expansion team's building blocks, she worked with Agler to pull together a three-team deal with Detroit so Agler could nab All-Star forward Swin Cash.
Buddies from the college hoops scene in the 1980s and hired by their pro teams in 2008, Agler and Meadors' squads will play in the best-of-five WNBA Finals beginning Sunday in KeyArena on ABC (KOMO, Channel 4).
On the surface, it looks to be a clash of similar styles. But overall top seed Seattle and No. 4 seed Atlanta are as different as you can get.
That's not just because Atlanta twins Coco and Kelly Miller haven't changed hairstyles since junior high while Storm posts Lauren Jackson and Ashley Robinson mix it up annually. Or because the Storm has four players on its roster who have won championships and the Dream has one player who has won, Kelly Miller with Phoenix in 2007.
Atlanta is bigger in the post and led the WNBA in rebounding during the regular season. Both teams are the same average age (26.8) but the Dream appears younger with wing Angel McCoughtry, a second-year WNBA player, zipping around the court with Castro Marques and Armintie Price.
"The way we play the game so fast, nobody can keep up with us for 40 minutes," Castro Marques said.
Atlanta started the season 6-0, then suffered its first defeat, to Seattle at KeyArena. The Dream was inconsistent until clicking in the postseason. McCoughtry, the 2009 Rookie of the Year, led the way, scoring a playoff-record 42 points in her team's Game 2 victory over New York to clinch the Eastern title Tuesday.
Seattle, motivated by five consecutive postseason exits in the opening round, is the more consistent team. The Storm had a 13-game win streak during its WNBA record-tying 28-win season. The Storm clinched the top seed with a comeback victory over the Dream on Aug. 1 at Philips Arena.
"You don't even know who they're starting," Little said of the Dream coaches, who benched seasonlong starters Lehning and de Souza during the Eastern Conference title run to open the postseason with more defensive-minded players. "For both teams it's going to be tough. They have big posts, but we have quicker ones, you could say. Swin's a big 3 (player), so you never know."
Atlanta, in its third season, is the quickest expansion franchise to reach the Finals. Seattle earlier advanced in its fourth season. But don't expect the inexperienced Dream to be rattled by anything Seattle has, including a possible KeyArena sellout. The first No. 4 seed to win a conference championship since Charlotte in 2001, Atlanta won twice on the road to advance.
"For my teammates, it's always good when you go play for someone who really appreciates women's basketball like how the fans do in Seattle," Castro Marques said. "All the odds have been against us this year in the playoffs. But right after that 6-0 run, I really believed we could be where we are right now. Yeah, Seattle beat us, but we showed how good we can be. Even with that loss, we knew how great we were."
• If necessary, Game 4 of the WNBA Finals will be played at The Arena at Gwinnett Center. The Dream had a scheduling conflict in booking Philips Arena for the 3 p.m. matchup.
• A Storm banner will hang from the Space Needle through Game 2. It's a first for the organization.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.orgSUNDAY
Atlanta @ Storm, noon, Ch. 4
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