SECAUCUS, N.J. —We're over three weeks
into the 2007 regular season, and like every Tuesday, it's time for the latest
edition of the WNBA.com editorial staff's Power Rankings. Detroit and Indiana
retain the top two spots, Connecticut makes a nice jump, the Silver Stars plummet
in the West and Minnesota gets out of the cellar. Take a look, and let
us know what you think in our Fan Voice.
Finally, some certainty in the No. 1 position.
The lone unbeaten team remaining, the Shock beat the previously undefeated
Liberty on Friday and the Sun on Sunday. Whether it's their depth, defense,
size, strength, shooting or experience, it seems like they'll find a way
to win. "I think we're the best team in the league," says coach
Bill Laimbeer. "At least until somebody beats us in the playoffs. I
think we're going to be the champions again."
Despite earning their first
loss of the young season, the Fever stay No. 2 after Sunday's impressive
victory over the Liberty. They didn't play poorly in Tuesday's loss to New
York, though they were outplayed. Sunday was a different story, though,
as Tammy Sutton-Brown stepped up in a big way and will likely form a dynamic
frontcourt trio with Tamika Catchings and Tamika Whitmore for the rest of
The Monarchs move up a spot after a win on Monday
over Houston and a 2-1 week that saw them score solid wins over a suddenly
faltering San Antonio squad and Seattle. Still, Sacramento can't seem to
beat Phoenix... sometimes great defense can't contain great offense. But
the Monarchs are still the best team in the West, largely because of their
consistency. Nicole Powell and Western Player of the Week Rebekkah Brunson
have played well in the absence of DeMya Walker. Coming into Monday's game,
the team had averaged over 10 rebounds a game more than their opponents.
The Liberty were the darlings
of the league, rolling to a 5-0 record, including last Tuesday's win over
the Fever, to tip off the season. But their dream start came to a screeching
halt with losses to Detroit and at Indiana. Still, it's hard not to be impressed
with the progress coach Pat Coyle has made with this team. Though they don't
have any superstars, Loree Moore, Shameka Christon and Erin Thorn have stepped
into leading roles and the team is leading the league in 3-point shooting.
They're also 5-0 when they score more than 70 points. It's still early,
but they seem like a solid bet for the playoffs.
The Sun are just about back to where they should
have been since the beginning of the season. No. 3 in the preseason
Power Rankings, Connecticut lost two of its first three before running
off a three-game win streak. Yes, they lost to the Shock on Sunday, but
they kept it relatively close throughout... and, frankly, who hasn't lost
to the Shock? Asjha Jones continues to play at a different level from past
seasons, but the team needs more consistency from last year's All-Star trio
of Katie Douglas, Nykesha Sales and Lindsay Whalen. Margo Dydek seems to
be healthy after missing a game with a back ailment.
The up-and-down trend continues
with the appropriately named Mercury. They lose at home to the winless Lynx,
then look fantastic against a tough Monarchs squad? It is difficult to predict
which Phoenix team will show up on a given night, but chances are it will
score a lot of points. They lead the league again, though they're giving
up almost as many. Things are looking bullish again for all-world player
Diana Taurasi (after she struggled for several games last week), as she's
notched a team-high 22 and 26 in the wins over Chicago and Sacramento.
The sudden retirement of All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw
is a real concern for the Sparks, who have played only five games, the fewest
in the league. Holdsclaw has been holding down the point guard fort while
Temeka Johnson recovers from offseason surgery. Can Spanish rookie Marta
Fernandez fill that void for time being? Despite the immediate concern over
a point guard, it's hard to find much fault with the Sparks' losses to Indiana
and Sacramento. And they looked incredible in slamming Connecticut in Taj
McWilliams-Franklin's return to the Mohegan Sun. Taj and Mwadi Mabika have
gotten it done at both ends of the court, and Fernandez has performed far
The Storm are another team that
we need to see more of to properly gauge. They can look like world beaters
when Lauren Jackson is in the lineup, Sue Bird is hitting from outside,
Janell Burse is on the boards and Betty Lennox and Iziane Castro-Marques
are getting their shots. But they've lost twice to San Antonio and Phoenix
is the best team they've beaten. This is a roster capable of great things,
and they could be dangerous in a short series, but they need more consistency
against the better teams in the league. It will be interesting to see how
they hold up against Indiana this week.
Rookie head coach Bo Overton has to be delighted
with his team's 4-4 mark, simply based on what was expected of them starting
the season, especially after winning only five games all of last year. The
revamped roster is starting to come together, too, as Dominique Canty is
stepping up at point guard, Chasity Melvin was in the running for Player
of the Week and holdover Candice Dupree is on her way to becoming one of
the league's elite power fowards.
A loss at Sacramento is one
thing, but falling at home to the Sky? The Silver Stars appeared heaven-sent
after early wins over Connecticut and Seattle, but they've certainly come
back down to Earth. Becky Hammon is still impressing in her new digs, averaging
18.1 points a game, but Sophia Young isn't exactly taking her game to another
level, Ruth Riley has underwhelmed at center and Marie Ferdinand-Harris
doesn't seem as dangerous as she was during her recent All-Star campaigns.
Congratulations to the Lynx for winning a game
last week and getting out of the bottom spot in the rankings, but things
are far from peachy in Minnesota. They followed up their win at Phoenix
with a close loss at L.A. and a big loss at Seattle. Despite Seimone Augustus'
consistency as a scorer -- she has led the Lynx in scoring in every game
but one -- rookie Lindsey Harding has been inconsistent. And though Nicole
Ohlde has looked solid in several matchups, she isn't the big-time, physical
dominator down low the team needs.
The Mystics have disappointed
so far in 2007. A playoff team last year and a preseason pick to make the
playoffs again, Washington has plenty of talent in perennial All-Star Alana
Beard and veteran DeLisha Milton-Jones. Tamara James has stepped up and
averaged 11.8 points over the last four games. But with an early season
featuring tilts against the Indianas, Detroits and Sacramentos of the WNBA
world, they've had a rough go, losing their last three games by an average
of only 4.7 points. Their schedule is easing up a bit over the next few
weeks, so expect to see them get in the win column before too long.
New coach Karleen Thompson has struggled since
taking over for Hall of Fame coach Van Chancellor. And the passionate fans
in Houston have struggled right along with her. The Comets fell to 0-7 with
Monday's loss to Sacramento, and aside from Tina Thompson and Michelle Snow
playing like the National Teamers they are, it's hard to find much in the
way of positives. Sheryl Swoopes is still out with a bulging disc in her
back, rookie Ashley Shields has scored only 20 total points over the last
five games and the backcourt is in need of more serious help than Barbara
Turner can provide.
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.