Breanna Stewart sat in the visitors’ locker room at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night in an unfamiliar position.
Stewart had just put on a dynamic exhibition, scoring 24 points with 16 rebounds and playing all five positions, but her Seattle Storm had nevertheless lost, 78-74, to the Liberty. The Storm (7-12) had dropped three straight before they defeated the San Antonio Stars on Friday.
Over the last four years, Stewart had experienced a total of five losses when wearing the blue and white jersey of the University of Connecticut. Her senior class was the first to win four national titles, and Stewart was named the most outstanding player in the Final Four each time.
As Stewart has quickly discovered, there is a difference between stardom in college and life in the W.N.B.A. Losing is frustrating but not quite unexpected, she said. She is still, however, acclimating to the demands of being the top overall pick in the league’s draft in April. Having entered the W.N.B.A. with a pedigree as one of college basketball’s greatest players, Stewart also carries expectations that she will be a pillar on which the Storm can build for the next decade.
“It’s funny — I think that sometimes I forget that I’m a rookie,” she said. “I forget this is my first two months in the league, just because of the expectations I have on myself, along with other things surrounding that.”