SECAUCUS, N.J. —With apologies for the
brief delay, 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 hold solid at No. 2. Elsewhere, the Sun, Mystics and Comets take
a step up, while the floundering Sparks continue their free fall. Take a look
at our list, and let
us know what you think in our Fan Voice.
Two wins last week only solidify the Fever's
spot atop the rankings. MVP candidate Tamika Catchings had a fittingly MVP-caliber
All-Star Game on Sunday and will lead this team well into the playoffs.
Tammy Sutton-Brown's size adds another dimension to this team offensively,
and Anna DeForge can hit the big shot when her team needs her to, like she
did for the East with 39 seconds left on Sunday.
The defending champs toppled
the upstart Sky twice last week in a home and away, and it appears that
they're well beyond their struggles of the previous weeks. Swin Cash had
a big game last week and looks to be stepping her game up to the levels
of All-Stars Cheryl Ford and Deanna Nolan.
The Silver Stars will feel the loss of Erin Buescher,
who went down for the rest of the year with an ACL tear last Wednesday,
but they managed to win in Phoenix without her. Rookie Camille Little may
be the beneficiary of more playing time and has shown she can hack it at
this level, Becky Hammon has come back from her injury with a vengeance
and late All-Star addition Sophia Young is stepping up her game of late.
Like Buescher with the Silver
Stars, the loss, even temporarily, of Rebekkah Brunson, will sting in Sacramento.
With her out of the lineup, Adrian Williams should see more of the court,
Nicole Powell will likely play a larger role and Yolanda Griffith may need
to kick it up a notch at the offensive end.
While a 10-point loss to the Monarchs hurts,
they're still in position for a playoff spot in the uber-tough West. They'll
continue to give up their fair share of points, currently the most in the
league, but their offensive firepower is undeniable. If Penny Taylor can
keep up the scoring pace with Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter in the
lineup, they'll win a lot of games in the second half.
Everyone thought the loss of Sue Bird would hurt, and it did in Wednesday's
loss to the Sun, but the night before Seattle pounded the Sparks and remain
in a virtual tie for the third spot in the West. Iziane Castro Marques
and Tanisha Wright were big with Bird out of the lineup and Lauren Jackson
has been her normal MVP self. With Bird likely returning later this week,
they'll be primed for a late-season run to the playoffs.
The Liberty were the one team in the league without
an All-Star representative in Washington, so perhaps the several days of
rest will help in the immediate future. Another possible result is that
the balanced team comes together even more and plays with a chip on its
collective shoulder the rest of the way. The real question in N.Y. is whether
Cathrine Kraayeveld, Erin Thorn and Loree Moore can keep posting great numbers
after their above-par first halves.
The Sun are officially hot.
After wins last week in Seattle and Sacramento, they're also officially
back in the playoff hunt and currently sit fourth in the East. With All-Stars
Katie Douglas and Asjha Jones heating up offensively, Nykesha Sales back
from injury and Lindsay Whalen leading the way, they will be a force to
be reckoned with before the year is through.
Losers of four straight, the Sky seem to be coming
back to Earth after overachieving massively throughout the first half of
the season. Jia Perkins has gotten hot at the offensive end and Candice
Dupree is a real star in the making. But a tough schedule and a relative
lack of depth on the bench could be their undoing.
After losing their first eight
games of the season, the All-Star hosts have since gone 7-4 and are working
their way back into playoff contention. Alana Beard continues to impress
and would be in the MVP mix if the Mystics were higher in the standings.
Nakia Sanford has had several big games of late and appears to be developing
into a solid pro post.
The Comets are on the way up as well. After an
0-10 start, they've gone 6-4 in their last 10 and beat Minnesota last week
behind 24 points and nine boards from Michelle Snow. And if the All-Star
Game is any indication, Tina Thompson can still play. The playoffs remain
a tall task at this point, but if Tamecka Dixon can continue to provide
scoring and experience in the backcourt, they could make a bit of a run.
Life hasn't been so peachy in
the City of Angels, where they've lost six straight and 10 of 12. All-Star
Taj McWilliams-Franklin appears to be back and healthy and rookie Sidney
Spencer continues to impress as a starter, but the Sparks simply haven't
been able to put the ball in the basket, as shown by their 82-47 loss to
Seattle last week in which they shot 29.9 percent from the floor.
Also losers of six straight, the Lynx have been
hurt significantly by the loss of point guard and Rookie of the Year candidate
Lindsey Harding. Fellow rookies Noelle Quinn and Shay Murphy will likely
see more time in Harding's absence, but they have yet to show that they
can score and distribute at the level of the 2007 Draft's top pick. Seimone
Augustus is a monster, but she needs more help around her.
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.