SECAUCUS, N.J. —Like every Tuesday during
the season, it's time for the latest edition of the WNBA.com editorial staff's
Power Rankings. The defending champion Shock seem to be getting stronger as
the season moves along, and they easily stick in the top spot. The Mercury rise
up to No. 2, while the Fever also take a step back in the right direction. Take
a look at our list, and let
us know what you think in our Fan Voice.
A no-brainer. The defending champs have won
four straight and nine of their last 10 in jumping out to a 4½ game
lead in the East. Wins this week against San Antonio and Chicago only bolster
their top ranking, as super-sub Plenette Pierson led the team in scoring
in both games and seems to have gone a long way toward replacing Cheryl
Ford's scoring in the lineup.
Yes, the Mercury lost a 111-101
shootout to the Storm on Saturday night, but they're still red-hot, having
won six in a row prior to the weekend setback. Phoenix has clinched its
first playoff spot in six years, thanks in large part to Western Conference
Player of the Week Diana Taurasi, who has regained her scoring touch. Phoenix's
potential playoff opponents will be having nightmares until the final seeding
The Silver Stars' two losses this week were to
Detroit and Phoenix, so you can't take too much away from them. Becky Hammon
(foot sprain) and Vickie Johnson (Achilles' tendon strain) missed Saturday's
win over Los Angeles, but Marie Ferdinand-Harris had 11 points and nine
rebounds, Helen Darling chipped in with nine assists and Peak Performer
Shanna Crossley posted a career-high 26.
The Sun's only loss in their
last 11 games came on July 24 to the Shock, so this is a team primed for
a playoff run. Now that Nykesha Sales is back, they should be 100 percent
healthy. Katie Douglas has been one of league's best players in the second
half, Asjha Jones has been solid down low and Lindsay Whalen is a gutsy
leader on the floor.
Coach Brian Winters told the Indianapolis
Star Sunday that there is currently no timetable for the return of All-Star,
do-everything forward Tamika Catchings. With Catch, the Fever are a deep,
defensive and deadly team capable of taking down anyone in the league, including
rival Detroit. Without her, they are a team struggling to earn home-court
advantage in the first round of the playoffs. With Catchings recovering from her foot
injury, though, Tan White has stepped up her scoring and Tamika Whitmore
has seemingly taken to the sixth-woman role.
The Monarchs can play defense:
Their 70.4 points allowed per game puts them second behind the Fever for
best in the league. But their 73.3 points scored per game is third worst
in the league. Their offensive issue reared its ugly head in Sunday's 63-55
loss to Indiana, in which Sacramento shot just 30 percent from the floor.
Their frontcourt of Rebekkah Brunson, Nicole Powell and Yolanda Griffith
has been solid on the boards, but the players need to put the ball in the
basket more consistently.
The Storm earned a huge win Saturday night as
Betty Lennox, Lauren Jackson and Iziane Castro Marques combined for 70 points
as they topped the Mercury 111-101. But there was bad news out of Seattle
Monday, where it was announced that both Jackson (ill relative) and Janell
Burse (injured wrist) will miss both games this week as the Storm travel
to Minnesota and Detroit. Seattle has nearly sewn up a playoff spot, but
it could get interesting if they were to go on a prolonged losing streak
and either Houston or L.A. were to catch fire.
Currently a game up in the fight
for the fourth and final playoff spot in the East, the Mystics control their
own fate. But after weekend wins at home over New York and Chicago, they
take off on a four-game West Coast swing that could make the difference
between the postseason and the draft lottery. Eastern Conference Player
of the Week Alana Beard has been great, but she'll need more consistent
scoring around her to lock up that fourth spot.
The Sky are falling at a most inopportune time.
Losers of three straight to Eastern foes Connecticut, Detroit and Washington,
Chicago next faces... three more Eastern foes in Indiana, Connecticut again
and New York in games that will make or break their playoff dreams. With
Candice Dupree, Chasity Melvin, Stacey Dales and sixth woman Jia Perkins
to go along with rookie sensation Armintie Price, this is a team that won't
go down without a fight.
Despite a home win last week
against the Lynx, the Liberty are still struggling down the homestretch.
They've lost eight of nine, including Friday's setback in Washington, largely
due to their inability to score: their average of 70.2 points a game is
the lowest in the league. The emergence of Janel McCarville has been a huge
boon in the second half for the Liberty, but to get the wins they'll need
to make the playoffs, Erin Thorn, Cathrine Kraayeveld and Ashley Battle
will need to shoot both more and more consistently from the outside.
Believe it or not, but the Comets are still in
the playoff race. Granted it would take a minor miracle to catch the stumbling
Storm, but it's possible. Tina Thompson has been one of the league's most
consistent players all season long, scoring in double figures in 26 of Houston's
28 games. But her help has been far less reliable. Michelle Snow, Tamecka
Dixon and Hamchetou Maiga-Ba have been good at times, but they'll need to
step up in a big way over the season's final two weeks.
The Sparks have lost 12 of their
last 14 games, not exactly a recipe for making the playoffs. But the possibility
remains, especially with games remaining against Phoenix (two), San Antonio,
Seattle and Houston. Mwadi Mabika has stepped up her scoring in recent tilts
and Taj McWilliams-Franklin is still a force down low, but they need more
reliable scoring from Temeka Johnson and rookies Sidney Spencer and Marta
The young Lynx are looking to the season's final
five games as an audition of sorts for next season. Coach Don Zierden has
said as much. And with two games against Seattle and tilts against Detroit
and San Antonio, it's unlikely to be an easy audition for stand-in point
guard Noelle Quinn. In all likelihood, Lindsey Harding will return to the
point next year if she's healthy, but a more experienced Quinn will be capable
of stepping in at her more natural off-guard position. With All-Star Seimone
Augustus at the three, they could have a solid trio on which to build their
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.