SECAUCUS, N.J. —Just like every Tuesday,
it's time for the latest edition of the WNBA.com editorial staff's Power Rankings.
Indiana stays on top but the defending champion Shock make the leap back up
to No. 2. Despite being without Becky Hammon for the last week, the Silver Stars
take over the top spot in the West. Take a look at our list, and let
us know what you think in our Fan Voice.
Best record in the league? Three All-Stars (Tamika
Catchings, Anne DeForge and Tammy Sutton-Brown)? Another 2-0 week that included
wins over L.A. and Chicago? Yes, the Fever are still No. 1. They're balance
is remarkable, their defense is allowing the fewest points per game in the
league and they have a viable MVP candidate in Catchings.
The Shock have really struggled
of late, losing four of five before Sunday's incredible 111-82 win over
Phoenix in which they broke the all-time records by scoring 40 points in
the third quarter and 72 in the second half. Yes, it's only one game, but
Bill Laimbeer has to be pleased with the offensive outpouring, including
double-digit games from subs Shannon Johnson, Plenette Pierson and Ivory
Maybe Becky Hammon doesn't mean as much to this
team as most experts (OK, we) thought. Hammon has missed the Silver Stars' last three
games, but the team has gone 3-0, thanks in large part to Western Conference
Player of the Week Erin Buescher, who has posted 23.0 ppg and 9.7 rpg in
Hammon's absence. Sophia Young has also stepped up her game as the Silver
Stars now have the best record in the Western Conference.
The Monarchs fall a few spots
after a 1-1 week that saw them narrowly beat the Lynx and fall to the Liberty
at home. They struggled mightily from the field against New York, but All-Star
Rebekkah Brunson and Nicole Powell have both been playing at a very high
level. They're still solid on defense as well, allowing the second fewest
points per game in the league, and are outrebounding their opponents by
a league-best 6.1 boards a game.
All had been right in the desert until Sunday's
humbling loss to Detroit. But the four wins leading up to it were still
impressive, and Penny Taylor's recent dominance earned her a spot on the
Western All-Star Team. They're leading the league in points scored and points
allowed and it's clear that when the Mercury are on, particularly with their
shooting, they can play with anyone. But if they're off, their defensive
looseness enables teams to run up the score.
Wow, talk about strength of
schedule! In the span of three days, the previously struggling Liberty,
losers of eight of their last 11 games, went into Detroit and topped the
defending champs, then dumped the defending Western Conference champion
Monarchs at home. Janel McCarville has been very solid since claiming a
starting spot from rookie Jessica Davenport and shooting guard Erin Thorn
has finally returned from her ankle injury.
The Storm had been raging before the announcement
last Tuesday night that point guard Sue Bird was going to undergo surgery
on her knee, which she did on Friday. Still, Bird helped Seattle to a win
Tuesday and the Storm pounded the Comets on Friday before they fell in San
Antonio on Saturday. Stepping in for Bird, however, youngster Tanisha Wright
posted a team-high 23 in Saturday's losing effort. All-Star Lauren Jackson
has been positively incredible, but she'll miss Bird, her biggest provider
down low, for another few games.
The Sky continued their up-and-down
season with another drop this week after losses to Washington and Indiana.
All-Star Candice Dupree has kept up with her amazing start and is tied for
second in the league -- behind only Lauren Jackson -- with six double-doubles.
Newly re-signed Cathy Joens led the Sky with 16 points in the loss to the
Fever. She could continue to see playing time until Dominique Canty returns
to the lineup. This team has overachieved this season, but don't rule out
a playoff appearance just yet.
The Sun averaged 109.5 points in their two games
this week, but lost a double-overtime thriller to the Mercury on Friday
night. The return of Nykesha Sales has definitely put some punch back into
their offense, Katie Douglas earned another well-deserved All-Star nod and
Asjha Jones will join her in Washington. Despite their record, the Sun will
be dangerous down the stretch and could beat anyone if they put it together
for a three-game playoff series.
Sorry, Sparks fans, but the Tom Petty classic Free Fallin' comes
to mind. After keeping the ship more or less steady following the retirement
of Chamique Holdsclaw, the sail seems to have fallen off. Now the losers
of nine of 11 games, the Sparks are struggling. Taj McWilliams-Franklin
has been dealing with nagging injury issues and Tameka Johnson hasn't
yet returned from a family emergency. Though rookie starters Marta Fernandez
and Sidney Spencer have done well and second-year guard Sherill Baker
has averaged 10.8 points a game since coming over from the Liberty, there
simply isn't enough talent elsewhere to compete with most of the other
teams around the league.
After their terrible 0-8 start, the Mystics have
gone 6-4 and are successfully ramping up to host the All-Star Game this
weekend. Alana Beard and DeLisha Milton-Jones will be the Mystics' player
representatives for the East. With Nikki Teasley, the solid Nakia Sanford
and the maturing Monique Currie, Washington has built a good core of players.
Tree Rollins seems to be making the right moves, and the Mystics now stand
only two games out of a playoff spot.
The Comets finally move out
of the cellar thanks in large part to Sunday's 12-point win over the Lynx.
Perennial All-Star Tina Thompson has kept up her blistering pace and her
18.4 ppg is well above her already stellar career average. Hamchetou Maiga-Ba
and Crystal Smith have developed some chemistry in the backcourt with the
recently re-signed Tamecka Dixon and Sancho Lyttle has proven to be a solid
complement to Michelle Snow up front.
An 0-3 week drops the Lynx to No. 13, but there
are still positives in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Second-year guard Seimone
Augustus has earned her second All-Star selection, Nicole Ohlde posted a
season-high 21 points in Friday's loss to the Monarchs and Lindsey Harding
continues her maturation into a big-time WNBA point guard.
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.