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Winds of Change: storm.wnba.comís 2008 Preview

Over the last three seasons, the Storm starting five of Sue Bird, Betty Lennox, Iziane Castro Marques, Lauren Jackson and Janell Burse started a combined 60 games, broken up only because of injuries and briefly in 2006 when Castro Marques went to the bench. While the combination proved effective on offense, the Storm was unable to advance past the first round of the playoffs.

As the Storm entered the 2007 off-season, it was evident changes would be made, but no one had any idea how sweeping they would be. In a three-month period, the Storm was sold to a local ownership group, Force 10 Hoops L.L.C., chose Brian Agler as the team's new head coach and director of player personnel after Anne Donovan resigned and added three All-Stars and WNBA champions to the roster in a dramatic makeover.

The Storm was not alone, however. The winds of change blew throughout the WNBA, with even championship contenders completing off-season makeovers. The league welcomes one of the most highly-anticipated rookie crops in league history, headlined by Tennessee forward Candace Parker (Los Angeles), LSU center Sylvia Fowles (Chicago) and Stanford guard Candice Wiggins (Minnesota). All-Stars changed hands, with Katie Douglas headed to Indiana and Tamika Whitmore to Connecticut, DeLisha Milton-Jones back in Los Angeles and Taj McWilliams-Franklin in Washington. Meanwhile, Lisa Leslie returns to the Sparks after a one-year absence to give birth to daughter Lauren.

This is also an Olympic year, which means players juggling their commitments to their WNBA squads and their national teams. The defending champion Phoenix Mercury returns its lineup largely intact - except for invaluable forward Penny Taylor, who will not play the first half of the season but may rejoin the Mercury after playing in Beijing. Other players, like Castro Marques and Jackson, will miss some time to join their national teams for qualifying tournaments or pre-Olympic training.

Add it all up, and you have the makings of a fascinating season both in Seattle and around the WNBA. Storm.wnba.com breaks it all down in its 2008 preview, looking at the Storm and at the league as a whole. If it helps, feel free to read the articles while listening to the Scorpions song Wind of Change.

Monday:
Fresh Start: Cash Begins Anew in Seattle

Tuesday:
Bird Returns to Revamped Storm

Wednesday:
The Centerpiece: Storm Looks to Relieve Pressure on Jackson
Eastern Conference Preview

Thursday:
The Veterans: Griffith and Swoopes Hope for Familiar Result With New Team
Western Conference Preview

Friday:
Is This "The Perfect Storm?"
WNBA/Awards Predictions