WNBA.com Power Rankings: June 23, 2009

Like every week during the season, it's time for the latest edition of the WNBA.com Power Rankings. The injury bug has stricken a number of teams during this young season and has definitely had an effect on where their teams stand in the rankings.

First, you have the young Minnesota Lynx losing their leader in Seimone Augustus for the year to an ACL tear. Then, there is the Sparks - who are already without reigning MVP Candace Parker - losing Lisa Leslie for up to six weeks. Add the Sacramento Monarchs to the list as they have struggled without their floor general Ticha Penicheiro in the lineup the past four games.

On the other hand, Washington and Indiana have been able to maintain their level of play despite losing key players in Marissa Coleman (six weeks, ankle) and Yolanda Griffith (season, Achilles’ tendon) early on in the season.

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.

Note: These rankings reflect games played through June 22.

2009 WNBA.com POWER RANKINGS: June 23

TEAM (last ranking) W / L NOTES
1
Seattle (5)
5-2 After ranking them at No. 5 last week, I mentioned that the Storm had a chance to prove me wrong with games against Minnesota and Phoenix, and the Storm did just that with a pair of impressive wins over the Lynx and Mercury. The Storm features the league leaders in scoring (Lauren Jackson at 23.4 ppg) and assists (Sue Bird at 7.4 apg). Rounding out the Big Three is a healthy Swin Cash, who had her best game of the season against the Mercury with 22 points and seven rebounds. The win ties Seattle and Phoenix atop the West standings with 5-2 records, but the Storm get the edge here after winning the head-to-head matchup on Sunday in Phoenix. Also, keep in mind that the Storm have played five of their seven games on the road, while the Mercury have played six of seven at home.
Looking back: 6/19 vs. MIN (W, 90-62), 6/21 @ PHX (W, 93-84)
Looking ahead: 6/26 vs. LA, 6/28 @ LA
2
Phoenix (2)
5-2 The Mercury keep a hold on the No. 2 spot after completing a 2-1 week, with their only loss coming to the Power Rankings leaders from Seattle. The Mercury saw opposing superstars fall in their games against Minnesota (Augustus) and Los Angeles (Leslie) and took advantage with a pair of wins. However, when the Storm came to town, the Mercury were unable to overcome the three-headed attack of Jackson, Bird and Cash and suffered their first home loss of the year. A key to the Mercury's early success has been the help that All-Stars Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter have received from their teammates. The Mercury have six players averaging in double figures this season; no other team has more than four. The supporting cast will need to keep up that level of play on the road as the Mercury head out for a three-game road trip.
Looking back: 6/17 vs. MIN (W, 104-80), 6/19 vs. LA (W, 89-80),
6/21vs. SEA (L, 93-84)
Looking ahead: 6/23 @ SA, 6/25 @ WAS, 6/27 vs. MIN
3
Washington (1)
4-1 The Mystics suffered their first loss of the season this week with a road loss in Atlanta, but rebounded with a home win over Chicago the next night. Eastern Conference Player of the Week Alana Beard scored 31 points against the Sky and will need to continue to perform at a high level while the Mystics await the return of rookie Marissa Coleman (second leading scorer at 12.7 ppg), who is out with an ankle sprain. The Mystics feature just one other player averaging in double figures in scoring with Crystal Langhorne scoring 11 points a night off the bench. The Eastern Conference leaders host the Mercury (who are tied for the Western Conference lead) on Thursday.
Looking back: 6/19 @ ATL (L, 91-83 ), 6/20 vs. CHI (W, 81-72)
Looking ahead: 6/25 vs. PHX, 6/27 @ CHI
4
Indiana (6)
4-2 The Fever continue their steady climb up the Power Rankings as they continue to rack up the wins - four in a row and counting - with a home-and-home set against the New York Liberty (winners of two straight) coming up this weekend. The Fever have to feel good with their a 4-2 record considering the loss of center Yolanda Griffith and the slow start by All-Star Tamika Catchings. Catchings, who is shooting just .295 percent on the season, looks to build on a solid performance against Detroit on Sunday (15 pts, 4-7 FG, 6-6 FT, 3 reb, 6 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk). Indiana has looked to Katie Douglas early on in the season and she has responded by averaging 17.7 points on .530 shooting from the field and .429 from long range.
Looking back: 6/19 @ DET (W, 66-54), 6/21 vs. DET (W, 82-70)
Looking ahead: 6/26 @ NY, 6/27 vs. NY
5
Connecticut (9)
3-2 The Sun rises to the No. 5 spot this week behind a 2-1 week. After dropping a close game to the Sky on the road, Connecticut responded when Chicago came to Mohegan Sun three days later with a 30-point win. The addition of free agent Tan White has paid immediate dividends for the Sun, who play just one game over the next week, which will give White time to get acclimated to coach Mike Thibault's system and give rookie center Chante Black time to heal her sprained left elbow.
Looking back: 6/16 @ CHI (L 78-75), 6/19 vs. CHI (W, 91-61),
6/21 vs. SA (W, 71-58)
Looking ahead: 6/27 vs. ATL
6
Chicago (4)
3-3 Chicago slides a couple of spots in the rankings following a 1-2 week. After opening the week with a win over Connecticut at home, the Sky suffered its worst loss of the season when they faced the same Sun squad three days later on the road. That loss was followed by another road defeat at the hands of the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Mystics. After winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors for her play in the season's opening week, Candice Dupree struggled last week (in two games against Connecticut, Dupree scored a total of five points on 1-of-15 shooting). She will need to get back on track for the Sky to remain near the top of the pack in the East.
Looking back: 6/16 vs. CON (W, 78-75), 6/19 @ CON (L, 91-61),
6/20 @ WAS (L, 81-72)
Looking ahead: 6/23 @ ATL, 6/27 vs. WAS
7
Minnesota (3)
4-3 The Lynx are a tough team to judge this week as they had to deal with the devastating loss of Seimone Augustus, who was playing at a MVP level to open the season. After defeating the Monarchs behind Augustus' 30-point performance to open the week, Minnesota lost their star the next night in Phoenix. The Lynx went on to lose that game 104-80 and fell two days later in Seattle 90-62. The two blowout losses definitely hurt the Lynx here, but considering they came against the two best teams in the league immediately following the loss of Augustus make them somewhat forgivable. Before we drop the Lynx any further than No. 7, we need to give coach Jennifer Gillom and the Lynx time to make the adjustment to life sans Seimone.
Looking back: 6/16 @ SAC (W, 86-83), 6/17 @ PHX (L, 104-80),
6/19 @ SEA (L, 90-62)
Looking ahead: 6/23 vs. NY, 6/27 vs. PHX
8
Atlanta (8)
3-3 The Dream split a pair of home games (coincidentially both finished with the same final score, 93-81) over the past week and hold steady in our No. 8 spot in the Power Rankings. The emergence of Sancho Lyttle, who is averaging team highs in both points (14.5) and rebounds (8.3), has helped the Dream stay in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings at 3-3 (tied with Chicago and Connecticut). Three games against East foes await the Dream this week giving them a chance to break away from the pack.
Looking back: 6/19 vs. WAS (W, 93-81 ), 6/21 vs. NY (L, 93-81 )
Looking ahead: 6/23 vs. CHI, 6/26 vs. DET, 6/27 @ CON
9
New York (13)
2-3 New York finally broke into the win column this week and by doing so climbed out of the Power Rankings cellar. The Liberty got a little help in picking up their first win when Becky Hammon and Vickie Johnson both missed San Antonio's trip to The Garden on Friday. The Liberty took advantage by outscoring the Silver Stars 31-10 in the first quarter and cruised to the win from there. The more impressive win came two days later in Atlanta as the Liberty scored a season-high 93 points to hand the Dream their first home loss of the year. The outside-inside attack of Shameka Christon (16.5 ppg) and Janel McCarville (13.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg) has helped New York gain some momentum heading into this week's games against Minnesota and Indiana.
Looking back: 6/19 vs. SA (W, 77-61), 6/21 @ ATL (W, 93-81)
Looking ahead: 6/23 @MIN, 6/26 vs. IND, 6/27 @ IND
10
San Antonio (7)
1-3 The Silver Stars suffered a pair of losses this week, but keep in mind that they were without the services of their starting backcourt of Becky Hammon (overseas commitment with Russian National Team) and Vickie Johnson (death in the family). When those two players return (Hammon should play Tuesday, while Johnson status remains unknown), the Silver Stars will be back at full strength and ready to get back on track. Luckily for San Antonio, they have only played four games so far this season, which means they have plenty of games left to make their climb back toward the top of the Western Conference.
Looking back: 6/19 @ NY (L, 77-61), 6/21 @ CON (L, 77-61)
Looking ahead: 6/23 vs. PHX, 6/26 vs. SAC
11
Los Angeles (11)
2-4 The Sparks concluded a four-game road trip in Phoenix last week and headed home with four consecutive losses and without the services of Lisa Leslie, who suffered a knee sprain and hip bruise in the Sparks' 89-80 loss to the Mercury. In their first home game since the season opener, the Sparks got back into the win column with a 20-point win over Sacramento. However, as we look at the week ahead, the Sparks will be short-handed when they face the Western Conference-leading Seattle Storm in a home-and-home set on Friday and Sunday. With Leslie out up to six weeks and Candace Parker still three weeks away from a possible return, the Sparks will need to find a way to get enough wins to stay within striking distance until their two stars return.
Looking back: 6/19 @ PHX (L, 89-80 ), 6/21 vs. SAC (W, 67-47)
Looking ahead: 6/26 @ SEA, 6/28 vs. SEA
12
Detroit (10)
1-4 The Rick Mahorn era got off to a rocky start in Detroit as the Shock lost their first two games under their new head coach. Both losses came at the hands of the Indiana Fever, with the second loss being the tougher one to swallow as the Shock were outscored 28-10 in the final quarter as the Fever rallied from a 17-point deficit for the win. The good news for Detroit this week was the return of Cheryl Ford to the lineup. She has averaged just 6.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 21.0 minutes in her first two games, but should continue to improve as she gets more and more comfortable being back in game situations.
Looking back: 6/19 vs. IND (L, 66-54), 6/21 @ IND (L, 82-70)
Looking ahead: 6/26 @ ATL, 6/28 vs. SAC
13
Sacramento (12)
1-5 Sacramento's 20-point loss to the Sparks on Sunday cemented their spot at the bottom of the rankings this week. The Monarchs scored just 47 points against the depleted Sparks. The Monarchs continue to be without their floor general Ticha Penicheiro, who has missed four straight games with a sprained right thumb. Nicole Powell has been the bright spot for Sacramento in the early going, averaging career bests in points (16.8) and rebounds (6.2). Powell will need some help if the Monarchs - who embark on a four-game road trip beginning Friday - are to climb the rankings.
Looking back: 6/16 vs. MIN (L,86-83), 6/21 @ LA (L, 67-47)
Looking ahead: 6/26 @ SA, 6/28 @ DET

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