Coach Hughes, Seattle Storm bracing for big week ahead
NEW YORK (AP) Everything seems to be going right for new coach Dan Hughes and the Seattle Storm.
Seattle is off to its best start since 2010 when the Storm were also 10-4. The Storm have benefited from a favorable schedule with nine of their first 15 games at home – the most of any team in the league.
They have gotten solid play from Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Natasha Howard allowing Hughes to give veteran guard Sue Bird games off to rest.
”We haven’t had a winning season since 2011,” Hughes said in a phone interview Tuesday before his team faced Minnesota. ”I feel like there’s more progress to make. We’re an improved defensive team … our numbers have gone from 11 or 12 to mid-pack. I feel like as a team we have a higher ceiling.”
About the only thing that went wrong in Seattle’s last game, a rout of Dallas, was that Hughes was knocked down in a sideline collision with Wings forward Kayla Thornton. The 63-year-old coach went back to the locker room to be evaluated for a few minutes before returning.
It’s the second time he’s been involved in a sideline collision in the past few years. In 2015, while coaching San Antonio, he was accidentally knocked over the sideline chairs by a hustling Danielle Robinson. He was carted off on a stretcher that game.
”I never saw this one” coming, Hughes said. ”Danielle Robinson, I tried to brace her from going into the chairs. … Some people can coach their whole career and never have a collision on the sidelines, mine has been a little different.”
Hughes, who is in his first season in Seattle, was quick to note that Thornton came over to make sure he was ok and Dallas coach Fred Williams came over at the half to also check on him.”
After facing Minnesota on Tuesday, Seattle will play Los Angeles and Connecticut.
”This whole stretch, playing Dallas, Minnesota on the road, LA coming home to Connecticut those are all good teams,” Hughes said. ”It measures what we’re doing well and what we’re not every game.”
The Storm moved up to second in the power poll this week.
POWER POLL: A look at this week’s WNBA poll:
1. Los Angeles (10-3): A blowout loss on the road to Dallas was followed up with a rout of New York thanks to 25-point effort by Riquna Williams off the bench.
2. Seattle (10-4): Breanna Stewart leads the league in scoring at 21.9 points a game.
3. Phoenix (10-5): Looking to end a two-game losing streak as they continue a four-game road trip in New York.
4. Washington (8-5): Will try and make up some ground on top teams with four-game homestand.
5. Connecticut (8-5): The Sun’s bench has been productive lately with the play of Alex Bentley, Rachel Banham, Brionna Jones and Betnijah Laney. Their efforts havn’t translated into wins though as the team has one victory in its last five games.
6. Minnesota (7-6): The Lynx have won four straight after getting off to worst start (3-6) in Maya Moore era.
7. Dallas (6-6): Wings showed they can play with the league’s best, routing Los Angeles before getting beaten by Seattle.
7. Atlanta (7-6): The good news is that Brittney Sykes returned from a leg injury. Dream hope to have Tiffany Hayes back soon (ankle).
9. Las Vegas (5-10): Moriah Jefferson practiced last week and should return some from microfracture surgery in her right knee
10. New York (4-8): A disappointing 0-2 western swing leaves the Liberty still searching for answers.
11. Chicago (4-9): Finally have a healthy roster now that Stefanie Dolson’s back. Look for the Sky to string together a few wins.
12. Indiana (1-13): Fever are playing teams tough, just can’t put together 40 solid minutes to get victories.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
Maya Moore averaged 22.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and four assists to help Minnesota win all three of its games this week. Elena Delle Donne, A’ja Wilson, Sylvia Fowles and Angel McCoughtry all received votes this week.
Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry had a career-best 39 points against New York on June 19. She was 19 of 22 from the free throw line – the second highest totals in WNBA history in each category. She also added 14 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Not a bad game for the veteran forward, who took last year off to rest. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough for the Dream, who lost to the Liberty 79-72.
”I’m starting to feel more comfortable out there with my teammates,” McCoughtry said.
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Sparks at Storm, Thursday. The top two teams in the power poll meet for the second time this season. Seattle routed Los Angeles earlier this month.
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To find the poll online: https://collegebasketball.ap.org/ap-wnba-power-poll-week-7-0