NEW YORK, July 23, 2008 — Like every week during the season, it's time for the latest edition of the WNBA.com Power Rankings. With nearly every team looking terrific one day and losing the next, it's getting tougher and tougher to make these delineations. But San Antonio keeps the top spot... narrowly. The Monarchs continue to rise, while the Fever and Lynx take minor tumbles.
As always, there are plenty of close calls this week,
but that's the beauty of these rankings: there's always room for discussion.
Take a look at our full list below, then let
us know what you think in our Fan Voice. Post your own Power Rankings and
discuss them with your fellow fans.
|2008 WNBA.com POWER RANKINGS: July 23|
TEAM (last week's ranking)
|16-8||A somewhat confounding home
loss to Minnesota over the weekend is all that separates the Silver Stars
from being the obvious No. 1, but they still get the top spot because of
even worse losses by the teams below. While the trio of Becky Hammon, Sophia
Young and Ann Wauters continues to play out of this world, San Antonio allowed
Minnesota to score 87 points, 14-plus more than their defensive average
of 72.8 a game (good for third best in the league). One point of concern
for San Antonio: Dan Hughes' bunch is just 7-8 against the rest of the (incredibly
tight) Western Conference and their first three games following the Olympic
break are at Phoenix, at Los Angeles and at home against the Sparks.
Looking ahead: 7/24 vs. CHI, 7/25 @ MIN, 7/27 @ DET
|16-8||The Storm had won seven straight before a shocking
mauling on Sunday by the Mystics in D.C. They bounced back admirably on
Tuesday with a big win on the road against the tough Lynx. Both Swin Cash
and Sue Bird seem to be stepping up with Lauren Jackson having returned
to Australia for national team training, but with Yolanda Griffith out (consussion
symptoms) and Sheryl Swoopes leaving Tuesday's win in the second quarter
with what appeared to be a hamstring issue, Seattle could be very shorthanded
in its remaining two games before the Olympic break. Camille Little and
Shyra Ely may have to step up to keep the Storm near the top in the West.
Looking ahead: 7/25 @ PHO, 7/27 vs. SAC
|16-9||The last two games have brought
the Shock's first two losses at the Palace all season long, and things now
look even worse with stud forward Cheryl Ford out for the rest of the season.
With Ford healthy, the Shock were perhaps the most complete team out there.
How much does that change now? Without Ford and possibly Plenette Pierson
for a few games, much more pressure will be placed on the streaky Kara Braxton
and youngsters Tasha Humphrey and Olayinka Sanni. But with veteran and youth
talent, skill inside and out and the ability to both slash to the hoop and
batter opponents down low, they'll be in the Eastern race 'til the end.
Looking ahead: 7/24 @ HOU, 7/27 vs. SAN
|14-10||Despite the win over the Shock, the Sparks are
a team that had lost seven of its last 10 coming into Tuesday. And like
Detroit, a significant amount rests on possible suspensions to key players
Candace Parker and DeLisha Milton-Jones. Others could miss time, too. When
L.A. comes to play and when Parker and Lisa Leslie are on their games, they
can dominate in the paint like no other tandem in the league. Leslie's defensive
dominance (five blocks) against the Shock was absolutely game changing.
Though Michael Cooper says the team still needs a point guard, Shannon Bobbitt
has done a more than serviceable job and Temeka Johnson rejoined the team
Tuesday after missing a couple of weeks due to the death of her grandmother.
Looking ahead: 7/24 @ CON, 7/25 @ NY, 7/27 @ MIN
|14-10||The once league-leading Sun
righted their five-game streak of wrongness with a home win Sunday over
the Sky. Asjha Jones posted a double-double, putting up 23 and 10, while
point guard Lindsay Whalen looked like the MVP candidate she's been all
season long, scoring 20, grabbing eight boards and handing out six assists.
Its a win," said head coach Mike Thibault. "It wasnt
real artistic at times but we played much better.... We were much better
defensively and we needed to be. ... We outrebounded them and we kept our
turnovers down. Thats a good start towards getting back to normalcy."
Looking ahead: 7/24 vs. LA, 7/27 @ WAS
|13-11||The Monarchs are the current holders of the "hottest
team in the league" title, having won five straight. They've topped
L.A., Phoenix and Detroit during that stretch, so it's safe to say the wins
haven't been cheap ones. They've stepped it up on the defensive end and
while no one player has taken over offensively (aside, perhaps, from Olympian
Kara Lawson), they're getting contributions from someone every game: Nicole
Powell, Rebekkah Brunson, Ticha Penicheiro, Laura Harper and Scholanda Robinson
among others. And with DeMya Walker returning to the fold, things are looking
up in Sacto.
Looking ahead: 7/24 vs. PHO, 7/26 vs. IND, 7/27 @ SEA
|13-10||Depending on the night, you
could see two very different Liberty teams. There's the one that dusted
Eastern rivals Detroit and Connecticut in succession last week and topped
a tough Mystics squad early Wednesday. Then there's the one that shot 28.6
percent from the floor in the Outdoor Classic and scored just 55 points
in a loss to the Fever. If Shameka Christon is on her game and Janel McCarville
and Tiffany Jackson are taking their marks to the hoop, New York can play
with anyone. But if Christon, Cathrine Kraayeveld, Loree Moore and Ashley
Battle struggle from the outside, it can be downright ugly. Regardless of
the ups and downs, expect the Libs to be there when the postseason tips
Looking ahead: 7/25 vs. LA, 7/27 @ ATL
|12-12||Houston's up-and-down season has continued...
but since the Comets are on a three-game winning streak, including a high-scoring
win Tuesday over the defending champs, they're deserving of the No. 8 spot.
Tina Thompson? Still a superstar at age 33. Michelle Snow and Sancho Lyttle?
Coming on to complement Tina very solidly on the front line. Karleen Thompson's
backcourt isn't young, but don't tell that to Tamecka Dixon and Shannon
Johnson, who are producing quite nicely.
Looking ahead: 7/24 vs. DET, 7/26 vs. CHI
|11-13||After Tuesday's narrow loss
in Houston, the Mercury sit in the Western Conference cellar, a fact that's
hard to fathom with the knowledge that two Mercury players have led the
league in scoring nearly the entire season. And while Diana Taurasi and
Cappie Pondexter continue to put up numbers, if the guards struggle from
the outside, they're simply not good enough defensively to try and outscore
Looking ahead: 7/24 @ SAC, 7/25 vs. SEA, 7/27 vs. IND
|11-12||The Fever are loaded with talent in Katie Douglas,
Tammy Sutton-Brown and the nearly 100 percent Tamika Catchings. But something
appears to be missing from Indiana's equation. Losing point guard Tully
Bevilaqua to the Australian national team doesn't help: "We are really
challenged now to play without our starting point guard," said coach
Lin Dunn after Wednesday's loss to Chicago. "We knew we needed to depend
on (Tan) White and (LaToya) Bond. I thought they played pretty well, but
we have to knock down some shots."
Looking ahead: 7/24 vs. MIN, 7/26 @ SAC, 7/27 @ PHO
|11-12||The Lynx may be sitting near
the bottom of the Western Conference, but a few points here and a few points
there and they're sitting much closer to the top. Rookies Candice Wiggins,
Charde Houston and Nicky Anosike were all big in Tuesday's second-half comeback
against the Storm, but with Seimone Augustus struggling with her shot, the
Lynx simply don't have enough offensive punch to make up for it. Minnesota
is a young, scrappy team that will go out and fight every night, and whether
they qualify for the postseason or not, this is a breakout season for this
franchise and coach Don Zierden.
Looking ahead: 7/24 @ IND, 7/25 vs. SAN, 7/27 vs. LA
|9-15||Let's be honest, the Mystics were
not a good team the final two games under Tree Rollins, falling 77-56 to
New York and 99-62 to Detroit before the longtime NBA player was replaced
at the helm by assistant Jessie Kenlaw. But the team -- and its owner --
appeared reborn on Sunday as Washington rolled to an impressive 89-57 triumph
over Seattle. Taj McWilliams-Franklin continued her terrific campaign with
22 on the afternoon, and though Alana Beard only had nine points, she handed
out a career-high-tying nine assists. Will Kenlaw's success continue? Washington
lost a nailbiter to New York on Wednesday and we'll find out more against
Atlanta and Connecticut.
Looking ahead: 7/25 @ ATL, 7/27 vs. CON
|8-15||The Sky are sixth in the East,
ahead only of the expansion Dream, but Steven Key's bunch is unquestionably
on the rise with wins this week over both Connecticut and Indiana. Perhaps
more significantly, Chicago will benefit from the return of No. 2 draft
pick Sylvia Fowles. Big Syl made her court comeback on Tuesday, scoring
two points, grabbing five boards and blocking a shot in just under 12 minutes,
and she'll continue to be worked in slowly. But this is a young team with
a lot of talent: Candice Dupree is truly one of the league's most consistent
power forwards and Jia Perkins is capable of going off for 20 on any given
Looking ahead: 7/24 @ SAN, 7/26 @ HOU
|3-22||Another week, another win for the up-and-coming
Dream. They surprised a solid Fever squad in Indiana last Wednesday, but
have fallen in three straight, including Tuesday's disappointment against
Sacramento in which leading scorer Betty Lennox notched a season-low one
point in 17 minutes. The good news for Atlanta is that Kasha Terry has played
well (15 points, nine rebounds on Tuesday) since her insertion into the
starting lineup and the two-headed monster of Alison Bales and Katie Feenstra
combined for nine blocked shots.
Looking ahead: 7/25 vs. WAS, 7/27 vs. NY