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NEW YORK, August 27, 2008 — As we get set to restart the WNBA regular season on Thursday after the monthlong Olympic break, it's time for the latest edition of the WNBA.com Power Rankings. After several weeks without WNBA action, not much has changed. But while trades and signings should help teams like Connecticut, Detroit and L.A., injuries to key players make the immediate future very unclear for Seattle and Sacramento.

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: August 27
TEAM (last week's ranking)
W/L
NOTES
1 18-9 The Silver Stars have the best mark in the league and had only one player overseas in Beijing. Becky Hammon played well for Russia in earning a bronze medal, but she didn't play so many minutes that she'll be negatively affected come playoff time. Look for a rested Sophia Young to be firing on all cylinders heading into the postseason.
Looking ahead: 8/28 @ PHO, 8/30 @ LA
2 16-10 Mike Thibault recently returned to his squad in Connecticut with a new lesson learned from his time with the USA Olympic squad: "The players bought into some roles that weren't their normal roles," he said in a teleconference Monday. If he's able to instill that approach in his first-place Sun, there's good reason to think they'll be the favorites in the Eastern Conference. The return of Aussie Olympian Erin Phillips adds depth to their backcourt.
Looking ahead: 8/28 @ IND, 8/29 @ ATL, 8/31 vs. SEA
3
16-11 The Shock made the deal of the Olympic break, getting veteran post Taj McWilliams-Franklin from Washington for talented youngsters Tasha Humphrey and Shay Murphy. But with the move, it's clear that coach/GM Bill Laimbeer is aiming to win now. Taj should adequately replace -- and could surpass -- the output of injured forward Cheryl Ford and brings presence and leadership to a roster already chock full of both. With a month of rest for Deanna Nolan and the new face in the frontcourt, the road to the WNBA Finals could well lead through the Palace of Auburn Hills again this season.
Looking ahead: 8/29 vs. NY, 8/31 @ CHI
4 15-12 The Sparks' entire frontcourt of Lisa Leslie, DeLisha Milton-Jones and Candace Parker spent most of the month of August in Beijing. Though jet lag may play a minor part early, coach Michael Cooper is more concerned about the strain on Parker. "In the last two years, she has played a lot of basketball," he said Tuesday. But an imminent signing will bolster L.A.'s frontcourt even more and a month of practicing together should only help Cooper's backcourt. It should help that five of the Sparks' final seven games are at home.
Looking ahead: 8/28 vs. SAC, 8/30 vs. SAN, 9/1 vs. MIN
5
15-10

One of the league's hotter teams heading into the Olympic hiatus, winning six of seven games, the Liberty crept into second place in the East by percentage points. And while they seem to have a relatively mild schedule over their final eight games, it will take solid play from Shemka Christon and Janel McCarville to earn home-court advantage, even for the first round of the playoffs. Last season's experience in the postseason should also help veteran guards Loree Moore and Erin Thorn as well as newly healthy Jessica Davenport.
Looking ahead: 8/28 vs. CHI, 8/29 @ DET, 9/2 @ HOU

6
17-9 The loss of reigning MVP Lauren Jackson (for 4-6 weeks as she undergoes ankle surgery tomorrow) hurts. A lot. There has also been speculation about Swin Cash going under the knife as well to help fix nagging issues with her back. Whether that happens or not, the Storm have a tough row to hoe without their superstar. Sue Bird, fresh off a gold medal with the U.S. in Beijing, will be under a good deal of pressure to lead this squad and to contribute more scoring than normal. Second-year forward Camille Little, too, will continue to play a vital role in LJ's absence.
Looking ahead: 8/28 vs. HOU, 8/31 @ CON, 9/2 @ ATL
7
Houston (8)
14-12 Winners of five straight heading into the break, the Olympics clearly came at the wrong time for the Comets. And while Tina Thompson was one of the U.S. team's stalwarts in Beijing, Hamchetou Maiga-Ba injured her ankle while playing for her home country of Mali and her immediate status remains unknown. The good news, however, is that the Comets have shown amazing resilience all season long. And with youngsters like Sancho Lyttle and Matee Ajavon in the mix, they'll be a team to watch the rest of the way.
Looking ahead: 8/28 @ SEA, 8/30 @ SAC, 9/2 vs. NY
8 15-12 Like Seattle, Sacramento has been heavily bitten by the injury bug. Rebekkah Brunson had arthroscopic surgery three weeks ago and could be ready to begin practicing next week. DeMya Walker, who surprised many by re-signing with the Monarchs on July 21, is cleared to practice and could be suiting up for live action shortly. Also, according to the Sacramento Bee, point guard Ticha Penicheiro has been sporting a shoulder brace after an elbow from Nicole Powell popped her clavicle out of place. Chelsea Newton and Kim Smith are also working through sprained ankles. Despite the injuries, Sacramento will be tough down the stretch, especially given the success of Kara Lawson in Beijing.
Looking ahead: 8/28 @ LA, 8/30 vs. HOU
9
13-13 Seimone Augustus is returning. Candice Wiggins has been tearing it up. Fellow rookies Nicky Anosike and Charde Houston have had a month to rest after coming straight to the WNBA following their senior seasons in college. Lindsey Harding is seemingly healthy. Could Minnesota be on the verge of its first playoff appearance since 2004? The next eight games, five of which are away from home, will tell the tale.
Looking ahead: 8/30 vs. WAS, 9/1 @ LA, 9/3 @ PHO
10
Indiana (10)
12-14 A seemingly healthy Tamika Catchings returns to the Fever, as does Aussie point guard Tully Bevilaqua. Both played well in Beijing, though both should be rested enough to come in and play big minutes as Indiana pushes for a playoff spot in the East. Those two, combined with a rested Katie Douglas, Tammy Sutton-Brown and Ebony Hoffman, makes up arguably the league's toughest defensive starting five. And we all know that defense wins championships...
Looking ahead: 8/28 vs. CON, 8/30 vs. ATL, 9/2 @ WAS
11
Phoenix (11)
12-15 The defending champs struggled, losing three of four heading into the Olympic break. They stand, shockingly, in last place in the West, but are just three games back of the Monarchs for the fourth and final playoff spot. USA stars Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter have returned to the States and will no doubt be looking to build off of their gold-medal performances in Beijing, but this is a different group of teammates. The loss of center Tangela Smith until the middle of September hurts mightily and will likely force rookie LaToya Pringle into a more prevalent role at both ends of the court.
Looking ahead: 8/28 vs. SAN, 9/3 vs. MIN
12
10-16 Team President and Managing Partner Sheila Johnson said during the break that "The Mystics have been operating for too long without a long-term plan. In the three years that I have been (here), our thinking has been far too shortsighted and our player-personnel decisions are far too needs-based. That all ends today." The trade of McWilliams-Franklin to Detroit doesn't appear to help the Mystics immediately, but the addition of Humphrey and Murphy should pay dividends for years to come. And there's no guarantee the playoffs are out of reach this season, as Washington sits just two games out of the fourth spot in the East.
Looking ahead: 8/29 vs. CHI, 8/30 @ MIN, 9/2 vs. IND
13
Chicago (13)
8-17 Rookie center Sylvia Fowles was in many people's estimations the most dominant women's player in Beijing. For any team. She led the gold-medal-winning USA in scoring and rebounding per game... and she's just 22. It may take a game or two to get back up to speed with her Sky teammates, but now that Fowles is back to 100 percent physically, the trio of Candice Dupree, Jia Perkins and Big Syl should make this team a contender for years to come.
Looking ahead: 8/28 @ NY, 8/29 @ WAS, 8/31 vs. DET
14
Atlanta (14)
3-24 The only team officially eliminated from the playoffs, the Dream's motivation the rest of the way will be different from that of other teams around the league. They're looking to next year and beyond, but that doesn't mean they can't play spoiler to those teams with postseason hopes. Second-year guard Ivory Latta continues to improve with every minute on the court as does rookie Tamera Young. Brazilian center Erika Desouza should also be back and healthy, which will provide a boost to Atlanta's already huge frontcourt.
Looking ahead: 8/29 vs. CON, 8/30 @ IND, 9/2 vs. SEA
More »

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