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SECAUCUS, N.J., May 21, 2008 �
Like every Tuesday (or, occasionally, Wednesday) during the season, it's time
for the latest edition of the WNBA.com Power Rankings. The regular season is
only four days old, so we admit we're grasping at straws here. But after Saturday's
epic opener, an eye-opening upset on Sunday and Tuesday's big Western Conference
showdowns, we're starting to see how things might shake out.
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.
WNBA.com POWER RANKINGS: May 21
TEAM (last week's
||News flash: The Sparks are really,
really good. The return of Lisa Leslie did wonders for Michael Cooper's
bunch in La-La Land. And everyone knew Candace Parker was going to be great,
but 32 points, 12 boards and eight assists great? In her first-ever game?
Temeka Johnson appears to be fully healthy, Marie Ferdinand-Harris seems
to have been invigorated by the move west and Sidney Spencer continues to
amaze from the outside. The Sparks are the team to beat right now.
||The Storm looked hapless in
the first half against Sacramento Tuesday night, shooting below 30 percent
from the field. But Sue Bird, Swin Cash and Lauren Jackson turned it on
in the second half -- all three finished with 17 points apiece -- and Seattle
ran away from the hard-fighting Monarchs. Sheryl Swoopes added 10 points
and seven boards in the victory, and even though Yolanda Griffith didn't
put up big numbers, new coach Brian Agler must be simply delighted at the
speed with which his roster of stars is coming together.
||Most so-called experts, including
yours truly, thought Connecticut would have a rough go in 2008 without the
services of Katie Douglas, Nykesha Sales, Margo Dydek, et al., but the Sun
have been impressive in their two wins. Tamika Whitmore has been brilliant
in each of the victories, Lindsay Whalen just keeps solidifying her status
as one of the league's top point guards and rookies Amber Holt and Jolene Anderson are providing better-than-expected boosts. Yes, it's early, but
Mike Thibault is the Coach of the Year so far.
||Aside from All-Star forward
Sophia Young, the Silver Stars looked a bit lethargic offensively in struggling
to an opening day loss to Sacramento. But they looked downright impressive
in topping the Mercury by six on Tuesday night. Young is averaging 23.5
points and 5.5 rebounds per game through their opening two contests and
despite a minor shooting slump, Becky Hammon is contributing as well. Ruth Riley appears reinvigorated by the new season and Erin Buescher seems to be
nearing 100 percent. Once Ann Wauters reports from overseas, the Silver
Stars should be a force to be reckoned with.
||Break up the Lynx! OK, so they've
scored one win over the big, bad Detroit Shock... But the rookie stars in
Minnesota are stepping up more quickly than even coach Don Zierden could
have imagined. Third-round pick Charde Houston had 21 points in just 16
minutes in her pro debut, third overall pick Candice Wiggins had 15 points
off the bench and Nicky Anosike got the start at center and put up 11 and
four boards of her own. Combine that output with that of All-Star forward Seimone Augustus, and you have a formidable group of youngsters. They're still a
bit of a longshot to make the playoffs in the super-tough West, but they'll
surprise some teams in 2008.
||If it weren't for a second-half
collapse against Seattle on Tuesday, the Monarchs would be higher on this
list. Still, Sacramento dumped San Antonio on opening day and looked great
through the first half last night. Kara Lawson has stepped into a starting
role without a hitch -- though she could be re-relegated to sixth woman
when two-guard Chelsea Newton returns from injury -- and Rebekkah Brunson
continues her development into one of the league's top power forwards. Nicole Powell has impressed from outside, Adrian Williams-Strong has been very
solid at the five and rookies Laura Harper and A'Quonesia Franklin have
already become significant parts of coach Jenny Boucek's rotation.
||The Shock took care of business
in their opener against Houston, but looked surprisingly overmatched against
Minnesota on Sunday. Sure, it's never easy playing the second of back-to-back
games, but Deanna Nolan has struggled mightily so far in 2008 and neither
Sheri Sam nor LaToya Thomas has paid dividends to this point. Still, Katie Smith, Cheryl Ford and Plenette Pierson are holding down the fort, so the
Shock remain among the East's elite.
||Tamika Catchings will miss at
least one more game for the Fever, but they didn't seem to miss her a whole
lot in their win over the Mystics on Saturday. Katie Douglas had 24 in her
return to her home stateand looks to be fitting in wonderfully in Lin Dunn's
system. Tan White needs to get more involved in the offense, but Alison Bales and Khadijah Whittington both contributed nicely off the bench. And
Indy wins with defense, defense and defense, so regardless of the Fever's
lack of offensive punch, they'll be in nearly every game because of the
fierce, aggressive perimeter defense played by Tully Bevilaqua, Douglas
and Catchings, when she returns.
||What?!?! The defending champs
are 0-2? Yes, it's hard to believe, but the Mercury have fallen to Los Angeles
on opening day and last night in San Antonio. Are they missing Aussie All-Star
Penny Taylor? Certainly. Are they going through growing pains with new coach
Corey Gaines? Perhaps. But fear not: The Mighty Merc started 7-7 in 2007
before making a huge second-half run. And Cappie Pondexter and Diana Taurasi
are respectively averaging 27.5 and 22.0 points per game. Things will heat up soon in
||The Liberty struggled in their
opener Sunday against Connecticut, though they showed during a second-half
run that they're a quick, confident team that can be exciting to watch when
it's on its game. But Janel McCarville's recent arrival from overseas coupled
with the injury to Jessica Davenport left New York looking confused inside.
Shameka Christon had 14 points, but seven turnovers in the loss to the Sun.
Second-year forward Tiffany Jackson remains lightning quick around the basket
and she has shown signs of having matured during her offseason in France.
||Sylvia Fowles certainly can't
be happy with her regular season debut, a six-point loss to Seattle in which
she played just 15 minutes before fouling out with six points, seven rebounds
and four blocks. But once she gets used to the refereeing style, Fowles
will be among the top Rookie of the Year candidates. Candice Dupree also
struggled against the Storm, going 2-11 from the field and
posting just seven points. Veteran Chasity Melvin showed her value, leading
the way with 15 points in the opener, and Armintie Price and Jia Perkins
will surely contribute more as the team gels.
||Washington is probably
better than the 12th best team in the WNBA, but they were less than inspiring
in their season-opening loss in Indianapolis, posting a league-low 53 points.
Nakia Sanford looks ready to take her game to the next level and Taj McWilliams-Franklin
and Monique Currie will get their points. But the missing ingredient right
now is All-Star guard Alana Beard, who could make her return to the lineup
later this week. Point guard Nikki Blue also needs to improve on her 0-5,
0-point opener against the Fever.
||The Comets were down only one
at halftime against the defending Eastern Conference champs, but they struggled
in the second half and ended up falling by 19. Tina Thompson remains her
dominant self and newcomers Mwadi Mabika and Matee Ajavon posted 12 points
apiece in their Houston debuts, but there isn't much scoring punch beyond
||We knew the Dream would struggle
in their premier season in the WNBA. And they certainly lived up to expectations
in their opener, falling 100-67 in Connecticut. Veteran guard Betty Lennox
provided some solid scoring and will continue to do so and Stacey Lovelace
was good down low, but Atlanta's younger players need to step up and perform.
Iziane Castro Marques had nine points, but needs to be more involved offensively.
Jen Lacy was 2-8, Ivory Latta was 1-5 and Kristin Haynie shot 0-5 from the
field, and that's just not gonna get it done at this level.