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UConn’s Mühl will see first preseason action for WNBA’s Seattle Storm

UConn’s Mühl will see first preseason action for WNBA’s Seattle Storm

Nika Mühl wants to earn a job as Skylar Diggins-Smith’s backup point guard with the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.

And that was her role in the Storm’s practice match against the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday.

Mühl came into the game twice for Diggins-Smith at that point, playing 19:58 to 20:02 for Diggins-Smith. UConn’s all-time assist leader finished with six points, three defensive rebounds and two assists for two turnovers in the Storm’s 85-59 win over the Mercury at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.

“She was solid,” Storm coach Noelle Quinn said in a Seattle Times story. “What really came through is that she’s a natural leader. She uses her voice a lot. She was solid defensively, and I think that’s important at the point guard position.”

“She orders her teammates to do what is necessary and what I need or what she needs.”

The native of Zagreb, Croatia, missed the Storm’s opening game against the Los Angeles Sparks in Edmonton on Saturday due to issues with her student visa.

Mühl was acquired by Seattle with its first pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft (14th overall, second pick of the second round) on April 15 and entered the game for the first time, receiving a nice ovation with 2:15 left in the first quarter and played the next 6:07. She missed her lone shot and was called for a blocking foul on Diana Taurasi as the former UConn star and WNBA’s all-time leading scorer capped a drive to the basket to end the first quarter.

Mühl returned with 3:51 left in the third quarter and went the rest of the way. She scored her first point on a free throw with 1:38 to go in the third and picked up her first assist a minute later when her pass led to a three-point play for former Tennessee center Mercedes Russell.

Her first field goal came with 7:09 left, when she got a friendly bounce off the rim on a 3-pointer from the corner. 90 seconds later she would add a pull-up jumper. Her second assist led to a three-pointer by former Stanford guard Kiana Williams.

She would end up with three fouls. She only learned last week that it takes six fouls to be disqualified in the WNBA, compared to five in college play.

“There is a lot more contact possible, which I like. I really like that,” Mühl told reporters at Storm’s media day on Thursday. “Six fouls, honestly, I had no idea that was happening. I’m really excited about that.”

After Tuesday’s game, Mühl signed autographs and chatted with Taurasi and former UConn guard Christyn Williams. Williams had five points in 17 minutes off the bench for the Mercury.

“You pushed me all over the field!” Mühl said to Taurasi.

“I was waiting for you,” Taurasi replied.

Mühl’s last game with UConn was a 71–69 loss to Iowa in the semifinals of the NCAA Final Four in Cleveland on April 5. She finished her career with 764 points, 453 rebounds, 686 assists and an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.12, and 187 steals in 131 games.

After totaling 149 assists in her first two seasons, Mühl broke Sue Bird’s 21-year-old single-season record of 231 assists with a remarkable 53. She followed with 253 assists as a senior, which gave her the top two for a single season. in UConn history. On March 23 against Jackson State, the two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year broke Moriah Jefferson’s UConn career record when she recorded her 660th assist.

With Bird’s No. 10 retired by the Storm, Mühl will wear No. 1.

The Storm have 16 players on their roster. The WNBA regular season cap is 12.

Seattle’s plays its regular season opener on Tuesday when it hosts Napheesa Collier and the Minnesota Lynx.