Silver Stars are on fire
Posted July 17, 2012 1:00 PM
The San Antonio Silver Stars remain at the top of the ranking boards this week as the WNBA breaks for Olympic action.
On a 9-game winning streak flirting with all-time record territory, the Silver Stars are worthy of the coveted #1 position.
But don't get it twisted, the Minnesota Lynx, Connecticut Sun and Los Angeles Sparks are worthy of the top spot too making this week probably one of the hardest listings to sort this season. Nevertheless, time to rank 'em!
|2012 WNBA.com POWER RANKINGS: 7/17|
|TEAM (last week)||W / L||NOTES|
San Antonio (1)
The San Antonio Silver Stars set a franchise record with their current 9-game winning streak, and that groove is likely to continue based on the way they're playing. Becky Hammon is channeling her "inner-Aaliyah" by proving age ain't nothing but a number for this 35-year-old putting up clutch numbers in the double figures night after night. (Check out her killer moves that made 3 out of the week's top 10 plays from last week). But the Silver Stars are far from being a one-woman team. Sophia Young, Danielle Robinson, and Shenise Johnson are all playing superbly as well morphing the Silver Stars this season from a struggling lower-tier team to a well-oiled machine likely to streamroll their way into playoffs territory.
Upcoming Games: 8/17 @Tulsa, 8/19 @Phoenix
The Connecticut Sun started the season amidst a crowded race of tough teams in the East but since then have broken free from them to easily dominate the conference. The 1-2 punch of Tina Charles and Mistie Mims helped the Sun beat the Sky in overtime 80-78 during their last pre-break game. Charles and Mims both had double-doubles in the game with 25 and 19 points respectively (Mims' career high). It's the team's fifth win in a row this season making them easily the top team in the East right now, if not the league considering they too are 15-4 like the Minnesota Lynx.
Upcoming Games:8/16 @ New York, 8/18 vs. New York
Los Angeles (2)
The Los Angeles Sparks are on a blitz equating to a five-game winning streak including a heart-pounding win against the Fever on the road last week. Rookie Nneka Ogwumike had a career-high double double of 22 points and 20 rebounds in the game backed up by 19 points a piece by Candace Parker and Kristi Toliver. Parker, who was just named the WNBA's player of the week for what seems like the umpteenth time this season, has been playing superbly as the MVP title this year is likely hers to lose.
Upcoming Games: 8/18 @ Seattle, 8/21 vs. Indiana
It feels very, very weird to place the Lynx this low on the rankings board and frankly I'm not sure if its fair. It has more to do with the other three teams being on more-stellar runs. The Minnesota Lynx snapped their losing streak rebounding by winning back-to-back games against the Tulsa Shock before the Olympic break. Maya Moore scored a career high of 26 first half points in the second Shock game which included 19 points in the second quarter. At 15-4, they are still as ferocious as they were when they took the title last year. They may be #4 on the rankings board now, but that is almost certain to change once game play resumes next month. It's easy to get wrapped up in headlines and focus on the team's losing streak and forget that this is team is same group of juggernauts that shook up the league last year and are likely to do it again come playoffs time.
Upcoming Games: 8/17 vs. Washington, 8/19 vs. Tulsa
The Indiana Fever may be several games behind the Connecticut Sun in the conference standings, but they are still one of the top teams in the East. Despite losing to the Sparks in the last game before the break, it was a nail-biter all the way until the last final throes of the game and the Fever only lost by three points. Tamika Catchings, the league's MVP last year, is played superbly putting up 27 points and six rebounds in the game. The problem with the Fever is most of their wins this season have been against lower ranked teams. They might be losing to these higher ranked teams by only a few points proving they are worthy competitors, but nonetheless a loss is still a loss. They have a solid foundation -- they just need a little bit of a push to get themselves over their plateau.
Upcoming Games:8/16 vs. Washington, 8/18 vs. Atlanta
This ranking was hard to sort out too considering the Atlanta Dream have been playing very similar to the Seattle Storm this season. They have the same record, a star scorer who is easily one of the best in the league, and a mixed bag of impressive wins and headscratching losses. But I'm going to have to rule in favor of the Dream - considering the fact they beat the Storm last week by 11 points. The Dream's Angel McCoughtry may have been out for the third game in a row for a knee injury, but the other women on the Dream got it together to shut Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm down. The Dream never trailed in the game with Sancho Little put up 21 points Lindsey Harding had 15 and Tiffany Hayes and Aneika Henry both threw up 13 each. It shows the team's chemistry is gelling nicely even without McCoughtry and once she returns to the team after the break, this team is likely to get even better.
Upcoming Games: 8/17 @Chicago, 8/18 @Indiana
Opening the season with a disastrous 1-6 record at one point seems like eons ago as the Storm continue to rebound. The team picked up two wins against the Phoenix Mercury last week which where the Storm's bench and rookies really stepped up. Veteran Katie Smith scored the game-high of 19 points in the second win against the Mercury while rookie Shekinna Stricklen backed her up with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Once Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson return to the team after the Olympics are over, expect this team's stock to rise.
Upcoming Games: 8/16 vs. Phoenix, 8/18 vs. Los Angeles
It goes without saying at this point that the Sky are struggling with the injury loss of their star player Epiphany Prince. But what else has been bring the Sky down as of late are turnovers. Last week the Sky had a chance to shut down the Connecticut Sky - one of the best teams in the league - but mistakes equating to a total of 19 turnovers took the game to overtime where they ended up losing by two points. Yes, 19 turnovers. We'll see if the team can get it together when action resumes in August.
Upcoming Games: 8/17 vs. Atlanta, 8/19 @Washington
Washington breaks into the single digits on the ranking boards this week after snapping a four-game losing streak and picking up their first road win all season against the New York Liberty. The Mystics shut down the Liberty 70-53 with Crystal Langhorne putting up 24 points and Monique Currie another 16. That being said, the team still has a 4-14 record so time will tell if this win is an indication the team is truly rebounding from a poor finish last season.
Upcoming Games: 8/16 @ Indiana, 8/17 @Minnesota
New York (9)
At first glance it sounds seems like the New York Liberty are playing superbly. During the game against the Mystics, Cappie Pondexter put up 22 points and was backed up by Essence Carson with eight points and eight rebounds. But the team ended up losing by 17 points. It was also the team's 7th loss in their last 10 games. There's not much to go on thinking things will get better for the Liberty after the Olympic break, but hey there is still half a season left to turn things around.
Upcoming Games: 8/16 vs. Connecticut, 8/18 @ Connecticut
The Tulsa Shock may have been handed back to back shattering losses last week to the Minnesota Lynx, but at least several players on the team are stepping up this season. In the second loss against the Lynx, Glory Johnson's scored a career-high of 30 points and 14 rebounds. For the Shock, putting up those kind of numbers are spectacular against any team, especially the Lynx. But obviously it wasn't enough to win and at the end of the day these kind of numbers don't mean much if it doesn't translate to victory.
Upcoming Games: 8/17 vs. San Antonio, 8/19 @ Minnesota
The Phoenix Mercury upped their losing streak to six games last week including double-losses to the Seattle Storm. Its safe to say the Mercury are playing poorly with the absense of their star player Diana Taurausi, who is likely to return in action after the Olympics break. Things are likely to turn around quick once she gets back because her teammates Sam Prahalis, DeWanna Bonner and Avery Warley are putting up solid numbers while she's been gone to round out the team nicely. But at 4-15, the Mercury need to turn the ship around quickly.
Upcoming Games: 8/16 @Seattle, 8/19 vs. San Antonio