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BOB'S CORNER: Seattle set to storm back

BOB'S CORNER: Our erstwhile USA correspondent BOB CRAVEN has been beset with computer-related issues for the past week but still somehow managed to file this "quickie" for us because, let's face it, you can't keep a good man down.

Seattle Storm fans haven't been used to slogging through a WNBA season like the last one - one that was drenched in L's. 

They finished the season at 11-29 after losing Sue Bird to retirement and seeing Breanna Stewart sign with the NY Liberty as a free agent. 

That's the fewest number of wins since their inaugural season 20 years ago. This is a team that has won four WNBA titles since 2004 and has made the playoffs all but three times in the past 19 seasons.

Team management was essentially silent until just recently.  Now, the Storm might be headed back to being a title contender as management has brought in the makings of a championship with recent back-to-back signings. 

The first was of Skylar Diggins-Smith to a two-year contract.  She is a six-time All-Star who sat out all of last season, but who averaged almost 20 ppg and 5.5 assists the previous year. 

Then second, a few days later, as of eight-time All Star and former league MVP Nneka Ogwumike. 

Last season she averaged 19 points and 8.8 rebounds per game and has played her entire career with the LA Sparks, leading them to a league title in 2016.

In a normal year, moves such as this would almost guarantee a very high finish in the race for the league title - except for the fact that since last year, the league now has two "super teams" who ran away from all the others and who both have everyone coming back. 

But the Storm are at least now in the conversation for a top team with these two quality additions, plus All-Star holdovers Ezi Magbegor and Jewell Lloyd, last season's league top scorer.

In another WNBA news note, Washington Mystics star Elena Delle Donne looks like she will be stepping away from basketball for the entire season. 

A two-time league MVP, she has been at an impasse with the club regarding her contract for the upcoming season.

UCONN's women's coach Geno Auriemma recently joined former Duke men's coach, Mike Krzyzewski, and current Stanford women's coach, Tara VanDerveer as the only D-I coaches ever to achieve 1,200 career wins.

And Auriemma reached that number faster than either of the others. 

Auriemma is in his 39th season.  Krzyzewski coached for 47 years and VanDerveer is in her 45th.  Of the three, only Auriemma has done it all at a single school. 

He still "fondly" remembers a game early in his career where the UConn men and women played a double-header, and only 50 people showed up to watch the women in the early game.

Press reports locally have the Washington basketball community concerned. 

Scott Pollard is 48 and a graduate of a high school in the eastern part of Washington, about a 4-hour drive from where I live. 

He was a high school All-American who went to college at Kansas, where he helped them reach the NCAA Sweet Sixteen four straight seasons. 

He then went on to play 11 seasons in the NBA, winning a championship with the Celtics in 2008.

However, due to a genetic condition that was likely triggered by a virus he contracted three years ago which causes his heart to beat an extra 10,000 time a day, he now needs a heart transplant - an already dire predicament that is made more difficult by the fact that there are almost no donors that can supply him with a pump big and strong enough to deliver sufficient blood to his extra-large body. 

He was recently admitted to intensive care at the Vanderbilt U. Medical Center in Tennessee while he waits for a donor.  Half of his siblings have the same condition, and his father died of it in his 50s when Scott was 16.

A handful of hoops anniversaries from the last few days:

--Joe Fulks of Philadelphia scores 63 points in a 108-87 win over Indianapolis to set an NBA scoring record which would last for almost 10 years.
1952--The Baltimore Bullets play an entire 48-minute game without making a single substitution in a win over the Ft. Wayne Pistons 82-77.
1960--Bill Russell sets an NBA record and becomes the first player ever to collect 50 rebounds in a game (he had 51).
1969--LSU's Pistol Pete Maravich scores 66 points in a 110-94 lost to Tulane U.

Feb 17

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