By: Kylan Watson
This afternoon the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) officially kicked off its unique 22-game season with a match-up between the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty. The game marked the debut of Sabrina Ionescu for the Liberty, and the return of Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird for the Storm. It lived up to the billing as the Storm spoiled Ionescu debut and beat the Liberty 87-71 to kick off the season.
The Storm had strong showing and were led by Breanna Stewart who was returning from an Achilles injury she suffered last summer which caused her to miss the 2019 season. She picked up right where she left off scoring 18-points and grabbed eight rebounds. Stewart showed her improved skillset during the game and it allowed her teammates to flourish. Guards Sue Bird, Jewell Lloyd, and Jordin Canada were the main beneficiaries. All three were able to attack the basket and take advantage of wide-open perimeter shots as well.
The Storm also benefited from forcing the Liberty into 19 turnovers, which allowed them to start the fast break and force the Liberty players into foul trouble.
Sabrina Ionescu really struggled in her debut dealing with the pressure from the Storm defenders. She forced the ball at points and turned it over four times. She also went 0-7 from the three-point line, and only had 10-points in her debut. But, during the game she was willing her team back into it making tough plays, forcing turnovers, and getting her teammates involved when she could. This experience will only help her to become a better player.
That is what the Liberty hope she will become as they need her to lead a relatively young team. Tonight, experienced trumped youth, but expect the Liberty to give teams a challenge as they learn to play with each other.
As for the Storm they now have their two-headed monster back in Bird and Stewart and players who have grown in the absence of both players. The Storm will be a huge threat in this shorten season and may very well be a championship contender because of their length and depth.