A lot has happened in the past week for the Seattle Storm. The biggest news was sadly confirmed this past Wednesday that MVP Breanna Stewart ruptured her right Achilles tendon while playing overseas in Europe just one month before the WNBA season starts. It happened when Stewart went up for a shot and appeared to come down on the foot of Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) who was playing for the opposing team.
The defending champion Seattle Storm will be without their star player for the entirety of the 2019 season. Stewart underwent surgery to repair her torn Achilles in Los Angeles on April 18th. The surgery was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache and Dr. Kenneth S. Jung. The hope and expectations are that Stewart (24) will make a full recovery and should be available for the 2020 WNBA season.
We will cover several scenarios for the on-court ramifications of losing Stewart for the season in an upcoming feature article.
The organization was dealt another devastating blow. when Coach Dan Hughes announced that he was recently diagnosed with Cancer on Friday. We covered that story and you can read all about that here: Coach Dan Hughes announces Cancer Diagnosis.
Free Agency News
In more positive news, the organization announced that they have signed 3 undrafted rookies just coming out of college to training camp contracts. The three players are Zykera Rice (Gonzaga), Presley Hudson (CWU), and Receé Caldwell (California).
Rice (6’1″ Forward) averaged 15.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. She led Gonzaga in points, rebounds, and blocked shots and was named to the All-WCC First Team. Rice led Gonzaga to a 68-51 NCAA March Madness first-round victory over Little Rock before losing to Oregon State in the 2nd round.
Hudson (5’6″ Guard) averaged over 20.4 points, 5.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. She was a four-year starter at Central Michigan University. Known as a sharp-shooter at CMU, Hudson made over four hundred (407) three-point field goals in her college career including 112 in her senior season, which was good for 6th in the nation. She was also Top 5 in the nation in Free Throw shooting at 94.4%.
Caldwell (5’8″ Guard) averaged 10.0 points and 4.6 assists per game in her lone season at Cal. Caldwell’s college career has taken her around the country. She started at UCLA, before transferring to Texas Tech where she had a collegiate career high of 14.5 points per game in 2016-17. An injury plagued 2017-18 led to her transferring again to the University of California where she helped lead the Cal Bears to an NCAA tournament bid alongside Kristine Anigewe. California throttled North Carolina in the first round of the tournament 92-72 before falling to the eventual champion Baylor in the second round of the tournament.
These latest additions put the Storm’s 2019 roster at 17, not including Breanna Stewart, Ramu Tokashiki, or Ezi Magbegor who aren’t expected to count against the roster. Seattle will need to cut the roster down to 12 before the season starts on May 25th.
WNBA League News
In a major announcement on Monday, April 22nd the WNBA and CBS made a joint statement that the WNBA has entered a multiyear deal with CBS Sports where they will air 40 games per season starting in 2019.
“Through our partnership with CBS Sports Network, the WNBA is joining an elite lineup of premium sports programming.” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We thank CBS Sports for making such a meaningful commitment to women’s basketball and for providing another platform to showcase the world-class athletes of the WNBA.”
This adds to and does not replace the current TV contract the WNBA has with ESPN, which includes 16 regular season games across ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2.
This comes at a pivotal time in the history of the WNBA. The league is looking to find ways to expand audiences, bring in new fans, and ultimately add to their revenue streams. The player’s union has opted out of their CBA which expires after the 2019 season and hopes to find a new resolution to the extremely low pay and percentages the players currently get.
More revenue is also key to the league expanding beyond the current 12 teams; something that many fans have been clamoring for over the past few years.
CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus statement read:
“We are truly excited to partner with the WNBA, bringing the country’s premier women’s sports league to CBS Sports Network. This partnership is one of the biggest and most impactful women’s sports programming arrangements ever at CBS Sports, offering national exposure of 40 games per year. This agreement provides great live content throughout the summer in prime time and on weekends and aligns two great brands in the WNBA and CBS Sports. We look forward to working with the WNBA for many years to come.”
The Storm will be featured in six nationally televised games on CBS Sports Network. They are scheduled for the following dates:
May 29th Seattle at Minnesota – 5:00 pm
May 31st Seattle at Atlanta – 4:30 pm
June 14th Seattle at Washington – 4:00 pm
June 21st LA at Seattle – 7:30 pm
July 12th Dallas at Seattle – 7:00 pm
Sep 5th Seattle at LA – 7:00 pm
That adds to the already announced five nationally televised games via ESPN:
May 25th Phoenix at Seattle – 12:30 pm (ABC)
June 16th Seattle at Connecticut – 12:30 pm (ABC)
July 23rd Seattle at Las Vegas – 7:00 pm (ESPN2)
August 14th Seattle at Washington – 5:00 pm (ESPN2)
September 3rd Seattle at Phoenix – 7:00 pm (ESPN2)
Ultimately, this is a really important deal. The WNBA needs a lot more exposure and needs to gain a much larger following than the one it currently has. A lot of basketball fans that actually take the time to give the league a chance generally end up becoming huge fans of the teams and the league.
The more fans the league can bring in with expanded media and television coverage, the more revenue they will be able to bring in. Hopefully, one day that will allow the teams to pay these players a much higher rate than they are currently making and maybe the players can avoid having to play basketball year-round which should help reduce injuries and strains on their bodies.