Storm welcomes three new names to Seattle
by Jourdan Rodrigue @JourdanRodrigue
Crystal Langhorne was sitting on her couch in Maryland watching the WNBA draft when she got the call that she’d been traded to the Seattle Storm for first round pick Bria Hartley (UConn) and forward Tianna Hawkins.
“It’s a crazy night,” the former Mystics forward said. “It’s different for sure, but I’m excited about the opportunity. I know Seattle is a great organization with great coaches and great players and I’m excited about joining.”
It was a powerful move for a powerful player in 3-time All-Star Langhorne, 6’2”, who is extremely versatile with capabilities at both forward and center. That versatility was something for which the Storm organization was on the lookout after familiar franchise face Lauren Jackson announced that her injury would place her on the bench for the 2014 season.
“I can be big sometimes,” Langhorne laughed. “You can’t ever take the place of Lauren Jackson but I just want to rebound the ball well and give us some low-post scoring.”
A native of Queens, New York, Langhorne moved up the map to play for Maryland from 2004-2008, where she accumulated such honors as becoming Maryland’s all-time leading scorer and the leading rebounder among both men and women’s players, becoming the only player in NCAA history to lead the nation in FG percentage three times, and becoming a WBCA All-American and two-time AP and USWBA All-American. She kept her game on the East Coast when she was drafted by the Mystics in 2008, where she accumulated a .558 FG% with 12.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game through 2013.
She’s consistent, experienced, and versatile, and now, Langhorne will move over 2,700 miles to the West Coast to bring her skills to KeyArena.
“(The Storm) is a very well-coached team,” she said. “They play really well together and they play good team basketball.”
Though the trade may have shocked some, including Langhorne herself, her experience and versatility make her extremely valuable to the team—something she hopes to show the famous Seattle fans upon starting the season.
“My friend (Ashley Robinson) told me about the StormCrazies,” Langhorne said. “I’m really excited about meeting them…and I’m excited to help contribute and help the team win.”
A couple thousand miles and a few years of experience away from Langhorne, 21-year-old Michelle Plouffe had a slightly more traditional draft experience than her new teammate.
“I was sitting in my living room with my team and it was pretty nerve-wracking watching the whole thing,” she said. “When my name actually got picked I didn’t know I was picked because they were doing an interview with some of the first round picks, and then I saw my name at the bottom of the screen, and I was like ‘Wait. Did I just get picked?’ Then we waited until all the numbers went back through the ticker until it got to mine, and I said ‘Wait a second…that’s my name by the number nineteen…did I just get picked?’ and then we waited again until the numbers went through again to be sure...then we all jumped around screaming!”
Plouffe’s excitement mainly stemmed from the feeling of being rewarded for such hard work throughout the years. Originally from Alberta, Canada, she went to Utah to play in college and became one of three Utes to rack up over 2,000 career points and 1,000 career boards. In the 2013-2014 season, Plouffe was selected to the Pac-12 All-Conference team and averaged 18.3 points per game with 10.4 rebounds per game.
Like Langhorne, Plouffe is a versatile player. At 6’4”, the forward says she knows she could contribute to the team with her ability to shoot the ball well and post up against bigger players. And as far as fitting in with the team and its city goes, she’s not concerned.
“I’m really excited to be a part of the franchise,” she said. “They have a great history of support in Seattle and I love the city (her sister, Andrea, played for the University of Washington from 2004-2007). They have great coaches and have had so many great players come through the franchise in Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson, and Tina Thompson (among others), so I’m just excited to try and make the roster and be a legitimate part of an organization that has done so well in the WNBA’s history.”
And perhaps the giddiest of all the new acquisitions was Stanford grad Mikaela Ruef. She recently got her Master’s degree in engineering, so if that wasn’t enough of an accomplishment, she’ll now be able to add “drafted to a professional basketball team” to her resume.
“I am so excited,” she said. “ I can’t even describe it in words. This has been my dream since I was a little kid.”
Ruef, a 6’3” forward, averaged 7.1 points per game and a .419 shooting percentage in the 2013-2014 season. She also earned Regional Most Outstanding Player honors after putting up 14 points and 11 rebounds in wins over Penn State and North Carolina.
A former Pac-12 player, Ruef has nothing but love for the city of Seattle. She most recently visited hotspots like Pike Place Market during Stanford’s trip to the Pac-12 tournament, and she said she felt a passion for basketball from the locals right away.
“The fans there are great and we’ve always had good crowds when we go there,” she said. “If I could’ve picked anywhere to go, it would be Seattle. I can’t even tell you how excited I am. Words fail me.”
The Seattle Storm will host their season opener on Friday, May 16th against the Los Angeles Sparks. Visit stormbasketball.com for ticketing information.
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