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Originally published September 23, 2013 at 8:56 PM | Page modified September 24, 2013 at 12:39 AM

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Storm looks forward to 2014 season with Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson back on the court

The Storm exceeded many expectations this season, playing to a .500 record and advancing to the playoffs for the 10th straight season, without injured stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Unpredictable Storm

Playing without injured stars Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird, the Storm finished 17-17 and advanced to the WNBA playoffs for the 10th straight season. A look at the Storm roster as it looked at the end of the season:

Forward Shekinna Stricklen (10 points per game, 2.8 rebounds per game).

Game time: Struggled as the season wore on. Minutes replaced by Alysha Clark in the postseason.

What’s next? Signed to play in Korea.

Return status: Under rookie contract.

Forward Tina Thompson (14.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg)

Game time: Played like a spry rookie despite this being her 17th season. All-time leading scorer in league (7,488 points), second in rebounding (3,070).

What’s next? Drafted to play in Korea.

Return status: Retired from WNBA.

Center Camille Little (10.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg)

Game time: Averages dipped from her career-high 2012 season but she was a strong leader.

What’s next? Signed to play in Turkey.

Return status: Under contract.

Guard Temeka Johnson (10.2 ppg, 4 assists per game).

Game time: Effortlessly took over the point guard position and shot a career-best 87.5 percent from the free-throw line.

What’s next? Signed to play in Russia.

Return status: Under contract.

Guard Tanisha Wright (11.9 ppg, 4.1 apg)

Game time: Named to the WNBA All-Defensive first team and served as first-time co-captain for the Storm.

What’s next? Signed to play in Turkey.

Return status: Under contract.

Forward Noelle Quinn (5.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg)

Game time: Versatile player accepted any role; started 15 games, played more minutes in the postseason.

What’s next? Signed to play in Korea.

Return status: Under contract.

Forward Alysha Clark (4 ppg, 2.5 rpg)

Game time: Set a career high with nine rebounds in Game 2 and scored career-high 12 points in Game 1 against Minnesota.

What’s next? First-year assistant coach at Middle Tennessee State.

Return status: Storm owns rights.

Center Ashley Robinson (1.5 ppg, 1.4 rpg)

Game time: Signed midway through the season to add depth and height to post rotation.

What’s next? Signed to play in Korea.

Return status: Unrestricted free agent.

Forward Tianna Hawkins (3.4 ppg, 1.6 rpg)

Game time: Had a typical rookie season, offseason development on offensive versatility and defense will be key.

What’s next? Signed to play in Hungary.

Return status: Under rookie contract.

Forward Joslyn Tinkle (0 ppg, 0.5 rpg)

Game time: Signed in August to short-term contracts and appeared in six games. Mainly used as a practice player.

What’s next? Looking to play overseas.

Return status: Storm owns rights.

Guard Sue Bird

Game time: Spent the season rehabilitating from left-knee surgery, joining the team for shooting drills in September.

What’s next? Attend USA Basketball minicamp in October, but return to play will be in Russia.

Return status: Under contract.

Jayda Evans

Most Popular Comments
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Adding one qualifier to: "At 17-17, the Storm won one more game than in 2012 when... MORE
If only Tina Thompson would come back too. Storm would be unstoppable. MORE
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Monday was hard.

“I feel like we should be on a plane right now,” Storm center Camille Little said a day after her team fell three points short against Minnesota in Game 2 of its opening-round WNBA playoff series.

Instead of traveling for a decisive Game 3 at the Target Center, Little went through the mundane routine with teammates of physicals, exit interviews and autographing items for offseason promotions. The Storm advanced to a 10th consecutive playoff appearance, exceeding the predictions of most considering Seattle was without mainstays Sue Bird (knee) and Lauren Jackson (hamstring) due to offseason surgeries. But that didn’t make Monday feel any better.

“It’s never a joy to have your season end,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “But I do think our team achieved a lot this season. They weren’t placed in a real positive position early in the year but we had a lot of people step up.”

At 17-17, the Storm won one more game than in 2012 when it had both Bird and Jackson. The positive is, after all of the roster changes to quickly fill gaps this season, not much should change in 2014.

Aside from losing retiring veteran Tina Thompson and welcoming back the stars, of course.

Bird is nearly 100 percent healed. She’s going to attend a USA Basketball training camp in October but said she wants to wait until her Russian season to test the knee in full-contact practice. She’ll play in the Russian League, which is slightly less competitive than her Russian team’s parallel EuroLeague schedule.

Jackson, a 6-foot-6 center, played competitive basketball during her Australian national team’s two-game run in August to qualify for the 2014 FIBA World Championships. She’s headed to play in China this winter.

“(I’m) so happy for the girls,” said Jackson via email of the Storm. “They have done exceptionally well. I (said) earlier this year, ‘I bet they make the playoffs.’ They have so much heart and talent and Tanisha (Wright) is a great leader — so I’m happy for them but it doesn’t surprise me!”

The bulk of the Storm roster will return. Key reserve Noelle Quinn was a signed to a three-year contract, point guard Temeka Johnson to a two-year deal. Forward Alysha Clark seems to have played herself into a return season, setting career bests during the postseason and finding herself part of the final five in Sunday’s loss.

The question, really, is where everyone will fit. Will Johnson have to play off the bench with Bird back to be the starting point guard?

“That’s a huge assumption because Temeka is one of our best defenders,” Wright said. “(A three-guard lineup) is a quicker lineup. No matter what, you have three people who can attack in the pick-and-roll. I’m sure that’s going to be a lineup that, regardless of whether it’s a starting lineup, is going to be seen for sure.”

Agler likes the early debate. He was one vote shy of Coach of the Year honors this season, many marveling at his ability to find success with a roster whose only star was 17-year veteran Thompson.

Thompson might join Storm post players Shekinna Stricklen, Ashley Robinson and Quinn in South Korea this offseason. That would be her final basketball run, she said.

Really, the only thing that could shake up the Storm is the pending negotiations for the WNBA’s new collective-bargaining agreement. The current contract expires Sept. 30, but its expiration will not interrupt postseason play.

The players and league hope to quickly resolve issues like an injured reserve list and the pay scale.

“I would challenge the players to remember that there always needs to be maintenance,” Thompson said. “The WNBA, we’re not in the clear, yet. There’s still work to be done in order for this league to have longevity. Instead of coming in and taking ownership, come in prepared to work, because we need it.”

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