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Seattle Storm ready for home opener

WNBA Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird high-fives her teammates during pre-game introductions as they prepare to face off with the Los Angeles Sparks in preseason action on May 12th at the KeyArena.
WNBA Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird high-fives her teammates during pre-game introductions as they prepare to face off with the Los Angeles Sparks in preseason action on May 12th at the KeyArena.
Virginia Lopez/TomboySportsPhotography/2014

The Seattle Storm of the WNBA have prepared for their 2014 season opener against the Los Angeles Sparks and they know their fans are just as prepared to pump the team up for a great game.
The home court advantage is big for any team but Seattle fans, known as the Storm Crazies, have built this advantage to a whole new level of support, belief and loudness.
For the fifth year in a row Seattle has been voted the "Best home court advantage" in the WNBA by the league's general managers.
The fans are such an integral part of the Storm's game that discussions about roster moves, stats and defense go hand-in-hand with talk about how much the fans mean to the players, coaches and game results.
Seattle guard Sue Bird, who missed last year to surgery, echoed a common theme among the team: the support they feel and the importance of their fans.
"It felt great to hear the crowd (at our preseason game). It felt great to be in KeyArena again, put this jersey on," said Bird. "In reality it’s been two years since I've played for this team it doesn't feel like that at all, it feels like I never left. And it's good, that’s how comfortable I am here, that's how at home I am here."
Home is where Seattle plays best, rarely losing when they are at the Key and always looking forward to getting back in front of their fans as forward Alysha Clark explains.
"Just being in the arena with the fans, that is my favorite part," said Clark. "Last year opening night when we played...the key was rockin'. We feed off of that type of energy so I’m anxious to get back into it. I’m anxious to get back in front of our fans and have them cheering us on. That’s what I’m most looking forward to."
The Sparks have become a Storm rival and when they come to town the fans turn up the intensity and noise even louder.
"I really feel like this is going to be filled up," said forward Shekinna Stricklen. "I think it’s going to be a great night. I think it’s going to be fun, the energy is going to be loud and I think everyone is just going to be excited and I think it’s going to be a really good game."
The reputation of the "crazies" is know throughout the league and coming to the Key isn't always looked forward to by opposing players.
“This is the worst arena to play in being an away team," said newly acquired Jenna O'Hea who used to play for Los Angeles.
“The beat LA chants just ring loudly in here whenever the Sparks come," said O'Hea. "So I’m looking forward to them cheering for me now and I know that they love their Australians."
That sentiment is echoed by forward Crystal Langhorne who came to the Storm via a trade on draft day.
"Every time I’ve come to play here the crowd was always amazing," said Langhorne. "The Storm crazies were always so loud. So I’m excited about playing in front of them and them cheering for me now."
The coaches also feel the fans support and know that when it comes to truly being a real home court advantage the Storm have a lock on the number one spot.
“It’ll be extremely energetic in here. Everybody in the league, because they need to and they want to get fan support, says that their fans are the best," said head coach Brian Agler. "I mean everybody says that, until they get here and then they find out what reality is. The Storm crazies, the city of Seattle love the Seattle Storm. They're very passionate about our team and our organization and all 17 nights when we play here there’s a unique energy and buzz that goes on in this arena and I think they appreciate how hard we play and how hard we compete and how we play together as a team."
But it may be two words uttered by assistant head coach Jenny Boucek that sums it up best for the team and fans when she simply said, "It's magical."

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