With off-season challenges mounting, champion Seattle Storm look to return to the postseason

EVERETT, Wash. -- It's been one thing after another for the Seattle Storm this off-season.

First, the team lost league MVP Breanna Stewart to an Achilles injury, then they found out that head coach Dan Hughes is battling cancer. If that weren't enough, star player Sue Bird is out for the year. She has to have surgery on her left knee.

They're also without their usual court, as renovations are underway at KeyArena. Five of this season's home games will be played at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, while the remainder will be played at the University of Washington’s Alaska Airlines Arena.

But the reigning WNBA champions can't let this long list of challenges affect their drive to get back to the postseason. And that task officially starts Saturday when the Storm take on the Phoenix Mercury for their home opener in Everett.

The players have tried to keep the off-court distractions as just that -- off the court.

"It's super easy to kind of, you know, read the headlines and kind of feel bad for yourself and the team, but I think we have done a really great job of just making sure that we're all together," Storm guard Jewell Loyd said. "Every year, every team is different, but I think our mindset is the same -- to come out aggressive and just bring it every single day."

The Phoenix Mercury is a team that Seattle's incredibly familiar with. The Storm had an amazing series against Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner last fall for the WNBA semifinals, so you know they'll be out for the win and putting the Storm to the test from the get-go.

If you're headed out to the game Saturday, remember to get there early. The Storm will be presented with their championship banner and rings. That ceremony starts at noon sharp and won't be televised.

There's a special train to the Storm game that will leave Seattle's King Street Station at 10:30 a.m. That will get you there in plenty of time.

The Storm's season opener starts at 12:30 p.m.