August 12, 2010 -- With just five games remaining on their regular season slate, the Connecticut Sun's prospects for making the postseason are looking bleak. After playing above-.500 ball for most of the season and holding the top spot in the Eastern Conference on occasion, the Sun currently sit at 14-15 and three games out of the fourth and final playoff berth in the East. Making the task even tougher is the simple fact that Connecticut is in a tailspin and the teams above them are playing solid ball. The Sun have dropped seven of their last nine, while Indiana, Atlanta, New York and Washington look primed to be the four teams that make it to the second season in the conference.
If the Sun fail to make the playoffs, it would be unfortunate for many reasons, but the one that would stand out is that WNBA fans would be deprived of seeing Tina Charles partake in her first playoffs after a dominant rookie season. While the Sun continue to slip, Charles' play hasn't outside of a mini sub-par stretch in late July. During the month of August, Charles has averaged 17.2 points per game, which is on pace for her best monthly clip of the season, and 13.4 rebounds, which is just behind her 14.0 average accomplished in June. She's also shot .525 from the field this month, dished out 1.8 assists and blocked 2.0 shots -- all represent her best monthly numbers of the season.
What those numbers show when lined up with Connecticut's results is that Charles is doing everything she can to help put the Sun in the playoffs, but she can't do it by herself. Obviously, it's very rare for one player to lead a team to the promised land in the WNBA, let alone a rookie, and we just might have the best proof of that yet.
Skinny: With this being the second-to-last WNBA.com Rookie Rankings of the season, we'll hold off until next week with going over the ridiculous accomplishments for Charles this season. Still, we should note a couple milestones she is close to catching and one she has already surpassed. On Sunday, Charles set the rookie record for double-doubles in a season, previously held by L.A.'s Candace Parker, by claiming her 18th versus Washington. The last double-double also tied her with Natalie Williams (2000) for the most ever by any player in season. She's also 14 boards away from breaking the all-time mark for most rebounds in a season, held by Cheryl Ford (363 with Detroit in 2006). Not too shabby. Previous ranking: 1
Skinny: It took her almost the entire season, but Wright has reclaimed the No. 2 spot in the Rookie Rankings. Yeah, this might not be the best rookie class ever, but let's not take anything away from the progress Wright has made during her initial WNBA campaign. What teams are looking to see out of rookies is growth, and that's exactly what Wright has shown the Minnesota Lynx. Scoring was never the issue for Wright, but rather the rate at which she got those points. Look no further than her season field-goal percentage of .355 for proof of that. But over the past six games she has been remarkably efficient, shooting .508. Minnesota has posted a 4-2 record over those six games. Previous ranking: 3
Skinny: Prince salvaged what was looking to be a disappointing week by scoring 16 points on 8-of-15 shooting Tuesday in the Sky's much-needed victory over Phoenix. Prince also collected six rebounds and four assists as Chicago snapped a five-game slide that has all but squashed its playoff hopes. This seems like a good opportunity to note that good things seem to happen when Prince is given the chance to shine. During the Sky's five-game losing streak, Prince received over 20 minutes in just one of those games (25 in a 97-96 defeat to Phoenix). She played 24 minutes in the team's triumph Tuesday. Previous ranking: 2
Skinny: Much like Prince, Griffin had a bit of Jekyll and Hyde week. The forward was instrumental in the Sun's big win over Washington on Sunday, collecting seven points and seven rebounds. However, that performance was sandwiched by two abysmal offensive showings. She failed to score and grabbed only two boards in the team's defeat to Seattle on Thursday, then in Tuesday's setback to the Mystics she was saddled with a donut in the scoring column once again after missing on all four of her field-goal attempts. Here we are in mid-August and you get the sense that neither she nor head coach Mike Thibault really knows where she fits in with this team. Previous ranking: 4
No. 5: Jayne Appel, San Antonio Silver Stars (5th pick)
Skinny: San Antonio's Jayne Appel makes her debut in the Rookie Rankings, but not exactly with a bullet. The Silver Stars big has been stuck in Honorable Mention limbo for much of the year and has flirted with cracking the Top 5 for a few weeks now, but her increased presence on the boards, along with Kalana Greene's drop in production, has finally allowed her to break though. Appel is not going to bowl you over with her numbers -- her highlight this week was six points and five rebounds versus L.A. -- but keep in mind she started the year off injured and has been slowly progressing as the Silver Stars remain in playoff contention. Previous ranking: NR
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.