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NEW YORK, July 29, 2008 —
Like every week during the season, it's time for the latest edition of the WNBA.com
Power Rankings. As the league heads into its monthlong Olympic break, surprisingly
little has been settled. Any of three teams -- currently all within a half-game
of each other -- could take the top spot in the East. Meanwhile, the entire
Western Conference, from top to bottom, is separated by a scant six games. Every
race is too close to call, which just means that the post-Beijing action will
be more heated than ever.
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.
Sunday's hard-fought win in Detroit cements
San Antonio's claim as the No. 1 team to this point. With Sophia Young continuing
her breakout season and Becky Hammon inching closer and closer to her form
of last season, there's no reason to think the Silver Stars will falter
No LJ? No big deal. The Storm, led by Olympian
Sue Bird, went 3-2 while the reigning MVP trained with her Aussie mates.
Camille Little, in particular, proved that she was up for the starting challenge
by averaging 11.8 points and 7.8 boards a game in Jackson's stead.
With Thursday's thumping of
L.A. and Sunday's slamming in Washington, the Sun have established themselves
as the cream of the Eastern Conference crop to this point. Eastern player
of the week Asjha Jones has been on fire of late, Lindsay Whalen is having
her finest all-around season, Tamika Whitmore is getting her early season
mojo back and Sandrine Gruda is starting to live up to the hype.
Yes, the Sparks were hit hard by the suspensions
following the melee with the Shock, but they simply haven't played with
the same consistency as they did early in the season. Candace Parker will
get her stats, Lisa Leslie is still a dominant presence down low and DeLisha
Milton-Jones is remarkably versatile in her role... but coach Michael Cooper
needs a more reliable presence from his backcourt.
Yes, the Libs have been up and
down so far in 2008. But they've won six of their last seven (the only loss
coming outdoors to the Fever) and seem to be hitting their collective stride
at the right time. Shameka Christon and Janel McCarville are the clear offensive
leaders in the Big Apple, but with Cathrine Kraayeveld, Tiffany Jackson
and Ashley Battle capable of lighting up the scoreboard on any given night,
this is an unpredictable team that no one wants to see in the postseason.
Like the Sparks, last week's suspensions hurt
the Shock. But more painful was the loss of power forward extraordinaire
Cheryl Ford for the rest of the way. Detroit has lost four straight, and
despite the steady (if not spectacular) play of Deanna Nolan and Katie Smith,
they'll need Kara Braxton, Tasha Humphrey and Olayinka Sanni to step into
larger roles at both ends. The recent signing of Kelly Schumacher adds some
frontcourt depth, as well.
The Monarchs won seven straight
contests before falling in Seattle on Sunday. "It would have been great
to head into the break on an eight-game streak," said Kara Lawson Monday,
"but we're still pretty happy with where we are. We're back in the
mix." And in the ridiculously tight Western Conference, where they
stand just three games out of the top spot, that's about all you can ask
The winners of five straight heading into the
break, the Comets have claimed the title as the league's hottest team. And
with Tina Thompson just adding to her Hall of Fame career, the veteran presence
of Shannon Johnson, the increasingly consistent Michelle Snow, Roneeka Hodges,
Sancho Lyttle and rookie Matee Ajavon, this is another team no one wants
to see across the court in the first round of the playoffs.
The Lynx earned two solid wins
this week -- in Indy and at home against the Silver Stars -- before falling
to the Sparks to end their pre-Olympic campaign. And while superstar Seimone
Augustus heads to China with the USA Basketball squad, there is a bit of
concern over the health of rookie star (and Sixth Woman of the Year candidate)
Candice Wiggins. But if Wiggins can get back to 100 percent during her month
off, count on the Lynx being in the playoff mix in the West.
The Fever haven't been scoring particularly well
of late, especially without floor general Tully Bevilaqua. But with a breakout
game from Tamika Catchings in Sunday's win over Phoenix, not to mention
being in the fourth and final playoff spot in the East despite their subpar
play of late, Indiana has to be thinking positively heading into the regular
season's final stretch.
Who could have seen the defending
champs sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference heading into the
monthlong Olympic break? Not many. But who thinks this squad -- which features
the league's two top scorers, not to mention the potentially returning Penny
Taylor -- is incapable of a mad run to finish the regular season, heading
into the playoffs on an uptick? I'm not counting them out.
The Mystics have improved under interim
coach Jessie Kenlaw, but they're still not where they expected to be coming
into 2008. Alana Beard is still a rising superstar, and though her scoring
is down a smidge, she's finding other ways to contribute. Veteran Taj McWilliams-Franklin
has been this team's rock all season long and is having yet another terrific
year at the age of 37.
Candice Dupree is making her
case, nearly every night, for being the league's best player you've never
heard of. In her last three games, the Temple alum is averaging 22.7 points
and 7.3 rebounds in an astonishing 37.3 minutes a night. Also, the Sky have
continued to struggle despite the return of rookie Sylvia Fowles to the
court. But once Big Syl gets healthy, they'll likely play the role of spoiler
after the Olympic break.
Let's face it, the Dream aren't going to make
the playoffs. But they have a lot of positives to build on looking ahead.
Iziane Castro Marques has been hot of late and can be a solid scorer, Ivory
Latta can light it up from the outside and the inside combination of Alison
Bales, Kasha Terry and the newly healthy Erika Desouza has a ton of upside.
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.