SECAUCUS, N.J., August 2, 2011 -- Blame deadlines.
Had we just waited a few more hours to release last week's Race to the MVP rankings -- had we just taken a little more time to see how things would unfold in a matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2 on the Top 10 list before giving a firm nod to Sylvia Fowles in the top spot -- we might have done things differently last time around. But deadlines are deadlines.
And wrong is wrong.
Maybe Tina Charles was just feeling it last Tuesday night when the Sun took on the Chicago Sky. Maybe she was extra-motivated after her Sun had gone 1-2 against the Sky on the year. Or maybe – the most likely scenario – she used these rankings as bulletin-board material (although nobody uses printers or bulletin boards anymore). Either way, Tina Charles dominated that game, with 21 points and 15 boards in a Connecticut win.
Fowles didn't play badly, by any means. If this were a boxing match, Charles wouldn't have won by knockout, but she certainly would've won by decision.
So, without further delay and our heads hung low, we present this week’s rankings:
Last ranking: 2
Three games, three double-doubles. If you're looking for consistency, look no further than Tina -- "The Glass Cleana," as she's known around these parts -- Charles. That gave her six double-doubles over the course of July and 11 on the season. She's also scored in double-figures in 14 of her last 15 games and eight times in a row. Welcome back to the top spot, "Sun Block."
Last ranking: 1
When Fowles took over the No. 1 spot from Charles a few weeks ago, we wrote that it wasn't a reflection of Charles' play as much as it was of Fowles'. Same goes this time. Although Fowles had two uncharacteristically poor (read: under 50 percent) shooting nights over the past three games -- before she went 5-for-11 against Connecticut, she'd shot 50 percent or better in 11 of 12 games -- she still averaged 14.67 points per game and 10.33 rebounds a game over the past week.
Last ranking: 4
It's just really very hard to stop Taurasi these days. Although her team suffered two losses last week -- to the Storm on July 26 and to the Silver Stars two days later -- she scored 26 and 27 points in those games, respectively. Then, despite struggling from the field during most of the game, she hit a layup and fired in a dagger from 3-point range over the final 40 seconds to send the Phoenix to a win over the Sun on July 30.
Last ranking: 7
When Hammon’s on, good luck getting in the way. The Western Conference Player of the Week is coming off a 7-day stretch that saw her completely take over. She scored 22 points and added five rebounds and three steals against the Mystics, then scored 33 points – a season-high for San Antonio – in a big win over the Mercury a game later. Oh yeah, she also had time for seven assists, four rebounds and two steals in that one. And her 15 points and six assists would have been enough to send the Silver Stars to a win over conference-leading Minnesota, had Whalen not sunk that buzzerbeater to keep San Antonio in second.
Last ranking: 5
Another week, and just more evidence that Catchings could be the most well-rounded player in the league. She scored 16 points and pulled down six and nine rebounds, respectively, in wins over Connecticut and Washington, and then added 11 more boards despite scoring only four points in a win over the Sparks on July 31.
Last ranking: 9
What a July it was for Augustus, the new Western Conference Player of the Month. In arguably the best shape of her career, her play's reflecting it, with another great stretch of games last week. After scoring 22 against the Sparks, she went out and scored 16 and 16 against the Storm and Silver Stars, respectively. And not only did she contribute buckets, she tossed in five boards against Seattle and four assists against San Antonio to help her team to crucial wins.
Last ranking: 12
After two straight Player of the Week Awards and a Player of the Month nod on Tuesday, it's safe to say that as McCoughtry goes, so follow the Dream. As she struggled through injuries earlier in the season, Atlanta's record reflected it. She averaged 15.1 points a game in June (although it came on 38 percent shooting), and the Dream got off to a 3-6 start. In July, she's upped that pace to 23.2 per game, and the Dream have gone 5-3, including 5-1 over their last six to jump back into the Eastern playoff race. Oh yeah, she averaged 31.67 points per game last week.
Last ranking: 3
Brunson, who'd risen into the Top 3 in The Race last week, takes a tumble this time around after icing up last week. After seven straight double-digit-scoring nights in a row before the Sparks game on July 26, she didn't have a single one last week, combining for only 20 points over three games -- the number she'd the Lynx' win over the Fever on July 15 alone. She did pull down 13 rebounds in the win over the Silver Stars, but as Brunson's teammates took bigger roles, she faded into the background a bit.
Last ranking: 8
Taylor labored a little in both of Phoenix's losses last week, but when her team needed her most – against the Liberty, after three straight losses – she shone. With 29 points, she kept the Mercury in the game before Taurasi wrapped things up at the end.
Last ranking: 13
After a sluggish stretch, Whalen charges back into the Top 10 thanks to a week that saw her average 16.0 points per game and a league-best 5.7 assist per game over her last three games -- all Lynx wins -- including last-second baseline jumper to stun the Silver Stars and send Minnesota to a 70-69 win on Sunday. In a duel with one of the best point guards in WNBA history (SA's Becky Hammon), Whalen stood tallest.
Last week, Lauren Hill of Mount St. Joseph University courageously took the floor for her first college game, refusing to let an inoperable brain tumor keep her from achieving her dream – and WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Tamika Catchings were on hand to lend their support.