By Colin Davenport
After two weeks of training camp, the Seattle Storm took to the Key Arena floor Tuesday morning, and defeated the defending champion Phoenix Mercury 73-59.
Fittingly the first points of 2015 were scored by #1 pick Jewell Loyd, who was on the receiving end of an outlet pass from Sue Bird. It was a symbolic passing of the torch. It also was a demonstration of what the rest of the WNBA has to go up against this season. The two connected later in the game when Bird threw a 3/4 court alley-oop to Loyd who finished her signature play with ease.
Seattle jumped out to an early lead, thanks to a balanced attack led by Renee Montgomery, who scored eight of her 12 points in the first half. She also finished the game with 4 assists.
"I think we are a movement offense and we just want to create for each other," said Storm coach Jenny Boucek. "We want to play efficient basketball and that is our goal."
In a show of just how fluid new offense will be, the Storm had 14 assists on their first 18 field goals. During that span, nine Storm players converted field goals, and the team committed just four turnovers. All 14 Storm players saw action during the contest with 13 of them scoring.
The standout players of the game were Loyd and Japanese rookie forward Ramu Tokashiki. Loyd finished with a team high 15 points on 7-12 shooting. While Tokashiki finished with eight points, six rebounds and two blocks, including one on Brittney Griner, who was allowed to play, despite her regular season suspension for domestic violence.
"With us being young, we bring a lot of life back into the game," Loyd commented after the win. "We were able to spread out the floor and get it going easily."
Another bright spot for Seattle, came in the form of training camp invitee and former Washington Husky standout, Jazmine Davis, who contributed five points and a block In her 11 minutes of action. Despite being guarded full court by the 6'4" DeWanna Bonner, the 5'7" Davis seemed unfazed, getting to the rim seemingly at will.
Even when Griner was in the paint, she was undeterred. Her second field goal of the night was a driving field goal over the outstretched arms of both Griner, and former Storm player Noelle Quinn.
Bird, fresh from having her first full off-season as a pro, contributed seven points, seven assists (five in the first half) and four rebounds. The new uptempo offense is suiting her game perfectly.
"That is definitely is going to be our style, and we haven't been that way for a couple of years," said Bird. "Its nice to change it up and with the people in the room, it really fits."
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the #3 pick in the draft struggled early due to nerves. "I was a little nervous and I was trying to get used to everything and everybody. But once we played the first half we got into a good rhythm and flow."
She finished with four points and three rebounds in just over 14 minutes of action. Like Loyd, Mosqueda-Lewis' first WNBA basket came off a Sue Bird assist.
The Storm conclude their preseason Thursday at Phoenix.