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Storm Clinch Playoffs

August 31, 2013

Preseason predictions.

Many predicted the Storm would be one of the worst teams in 2013.

With San Antonio's loss to Los Angeles, however, Seattle has clinched its 10th-consecutive playoff berth Saturday evening.

In a season filled with adversity, many wrote the Storm out of the mix before the season had even tipped off. There are 11 players and three coaches who did not.

Brian Agler, a strong contender for Coach of the Year, has guided his squad to a 15-15 record and a chance to jump into third place before the regular season comes to a close on Sept. 15. The Storm has won five of its last seven games, completed a series sweep against Western Conference foe Phoenix Mercury and has racked up an 8-5 record in the second half the season.

“Our team this year is in the playoffs because of the leadership within our team,” said Storm head coach and general manager Brian Agler. “Our team would not give up. We showed great character, resiliency and persistence. Their goal was to make the playoffs. Now we will reset our goals.”

Seattle, the only team in the league with all five starters averaging double-digit scoring, has posted a 6-4 record vs. Phoenix, Los Angeles and Minnesota this season; the other three teams slated for playoffs.

Tina Thompson, a 17-year veteran, leads the Storm in points per game, (14.0) and rebounds per game, (6.0). This is the first season since 2010 with Los Angeles that she has averaged double-figures, notching four double-doubles this season.

Surrounding Thompson are center Camille Little and guard Tanisha Wright, who have stepped into larger scoring roles since the one-season hiatus of point guard Sue Bird and center Lauren Jackson. When Little, Wright and Thompson combine for more than 30 points, the Storm is 14-2.

Wright, the captain, was drafted by the Storm in 2005. This season is just the third of her career that she is averaging double-digit points (11.5) and is her second-best; she averaged 12.2 points per game in 2009 and 10.1 in 2011.

Little has done the same. She is averaging a career-best 11.4 points, which includes her time with Atlanta and San Antonio.

KeyArena, the Storm's home venue for the past 14 years, is widely regarded as one of the toughest places to play in the WNBA. With Seattle's announcement on Friday, Aug. 30 that the team will play at the Tacoma Dome for the first round of playoffs, this will be the second time Seattle has played a game away from KeyArena.

Since Agler took the helm before the 2008 season, the Storm has posted the best home record in the league, with 79 wins and just 20 losses in the regular season. The Storm is 8-3 at KeyArena in the playoffs. The Storm now sits in a position to possibly jump into third place in the West before season’s end.

A 10-year streak of qualifying for playoffs is a long stretch and is certainly expected to be filled with challenges. Regardless of the adversity and changes the Storm has had to endure in 2013, it has proven it is a contender. With Bird and Jackson out, the team stepped up and answered the call.

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