Sky-Storm Preview

If having the reigning WNBA most valuable player wasn't enough, the Seattle Storm revamped their roster by adding three of the league's biggest names.

The new-look Storm hope to rebound from a disappointing 2007 when they host the Chicago Sky in Saturday night's season opener.

Last season, Seattle finished fourth in the Western Conference with a 17-17 record and were swept by eventual WNBA champion Phoenix in the semifinals despite league MVP Lauren Jackson pacing the Storm.

The 6-foot-5 Jackson, who averaged league-bests with 23.8 points and 9.7 rebounds per contest, will have a star-studded supporting cast this season in Seattle, which was the WNBA's second-highest scoring team averaging 80.4 points in 2007.

In addition to re-signing veteran guard Sue Bird (10.4 ppg, 4.9 assists per game last year), the Storm traded the No. 4 pick in last month's draft to Detroit for All-Star forward Swin Cash, who averaged 12.9 points and 5.8 rebounds while winning two titles in six seasons with the Shock.

The club also signed three-time MVP Sheryl Swoopes and 1999 MVP Yolanda Griffth via free agency, to make up for the losses of Betty Lennox and Iziane Castro Marques to expansion Atlanta.

"I think a lot of teams around the league look at this team and say, 'Wow, that's a nice roster,'" Swoopes told the Storm's official Web site. "On paper it is, but it doesn't matter what it looks like on paper. All that matters is when we step out on the floor."

Though the 38-year-old Griffith enters her 10th season and Swoopes, 37, missed all but three games in 2007 with a back injury, Seattle's lineup includes five Olympic medalists, six former WNBA champions and four members of the league's All-Decade team.

Griffith, a former league champion, spent her entire career with Sacramento, while Swoopes was a member of four championship teams in 10 seasons with Houston.

Former San Antonio assistant Brian Agler takes over as head coach and director of player personnel after Anne Donovan resigned from both posts.

"It's very comfortable," Bird said. "It's nice to have some veterans around. Hopefully the transition can be easy."

The Storm hopes a lineup loaded with big names and some solid depth provided by guard Tanisha Wright and forward Shyra Ely will help a team that struggled to overcome injuries and a bench that averaged just 11.7 points in 2007.

"I think opening night, this place is going to be rocking," said Cash, who joined Bird, Swoopes and Griffith on the 2004 gold-medal winning U.S. Olympic team. "It's going to be a new team, new look, new year. Everyone's just really excited."

While Chicago wasn't as active as Seattle in the offseason, the Sky also have some high expectations after showing significant improvement in the franchise's second season last year.

Behind two-time All-Star Candice Dupree (16.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and WNBA rookie of the year Armintie Price (7.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.9 apg), Chicago finished 14-20, just two games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after going 5-29 in its inaugural season.

With former assistant Steven Key - the team's third head coach in three seasons - guiding the club, the Sky used the No. 2 overall pick to draft LSU's 6-6 All-American Sylvia Fowles, who averaged 17.4 points and 10.3 rebounds last season.

"I think I'm going to have great success in Chicago and I'm looking forward to it," Fowles told the league's official Web site.

Seattle is 4-0 all-time against Chicago.

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