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The latest news and analysis on college and pro women's basketball.

June 21, 2010 at 11:41 PM

Monday dribble: WNBA power rankings, BBQs, and murals

CashWhiteHouse.jpgThere might have been a time when news that Sunday’s weather in Seattle was the darkest in June ever would have brought an even gloomier feel. But if you sought solace in the Storm instead of Monday’s dud summer solstice, you were pretty happy.
In fact, the players were probably the only ones glad to feel some cool weather — 56 degrees — after burning up on the road with their play and in the heat. The Storm finished the rough stretch of three games in four days at 2-1, earning some respect on the road against the Eastern Conference.
But while Seattle hung close with Indiana in a seven-point loss and put its foot down against New York (eight-point win) and San Antonio (21-point win), the remainder of the Western Conference continued its confusing crumble. From injuries to perplexing losses, the drop-off had reporters wondering if the Storm would be the WNBA’s version of the Cleveland Cavaliers — good until another postseason collapse because no one provided the needed challenge.
Doubt it. Seattle is answering that by challenging its self. F Camille Little says practices are harder than games sometimes and PG Sue Bird notes all the ways the team has won — including when it’s not playing its best — is the signifier of a championship squad. She should know since she went undefeated in leading the University of Connecticut to a NCAA title in 2002.
So, excuse the Storm for hanging over the Northwest a little longer than expected. Seattle is supposed to see the sun on Tuesday, but the women are remaining atop the power rankings for another week.
Here’s how the fifth edition stacks up:
Team (Record/Last week’s ranking) Comment
1. Seattle (11-2/1): Anyone else think it’s creepy how Jana Vesela is also from Czech Republic, wears No. 7 and is an unsung hero like Kamila Vodichokova during the Storm’s 2004 title run?
2. Connecticut (8-3/4): Ah, sold. Rookie Tina Charles is going to be a pill as a pro. Phoenix and LA sans Candace Parker don’t have the best post play, but doubt that mattered.
3. Indiana (8-4/5): Rematch at KeyArena on Friday could be a WNBA Finals preview. Fever probably only team in league that can play 1 through 11 without any drop-off.
4. New York (4-6/6): Love PG Nikki Blue, but not over Kennewick High PG Leilani Mitchell. Liberty still confusing, but addition of Plenette Pierson a season-saver.
5. Atlanta (9-4/2): The Georgia peach is looking spoiled. Star Angel McCoughtry griping, Iziane Castro Marques not sharing, and coach Marynell Meadors grasping — oh, my!
6. Washington (7-4/3): Mystics forward Jacinta Monroe out six to eight weeks with broken left hand. Add Alana Beard’s season-ending ankle injury and Washington needs one more medical setback to qualify for league’s injury-replacement rule.
7. Phoenix (5-5/7): Again, only Seattle appears set in the West. While the Mercury are self-imploding, they can clean up rubble and still build something beautiful this season because the conference stinks.
8. Minnesota (2-9/12): G Seimone Augustus has played in four games, averaging 18 points. Give her and this roster time and all that preseason hype the Lynx received should make some sense.
9. San Antonio (4-7/9): It’s a shame to play 10 minutes of basketball and not grab one rebound. Unless shooting 100 percent. However the Silver Stars weren’t in the third quarter of a 21-point loss to Seattle on Sunday.
10. Chicago (4-8/8): Spiraling on a four-game losing streak. Sylvia Folwes-Charles rematch would be entertaining if Chicago could figure out how to use its 6-foot-6 center.
11. Los Angeles (3-7/10): How bad is L.A.? Coach Jennifer Gillom feels Courtney Paris might help after losing 2008 MVP Candace Parker to season-ending shoulder surgery.
12. Tulsa (3-8/12): And then there were two remaining Detroit players. The Shock is on a five-game losing streak with Atlanta and Seattle on the docket this week. Ouch.
IMMORTALIZED: Bird was on the mind of Southeast Senior Center and teens from the gang prevention group Youth 180 when they joined to paint a mural in South Seattle. The Olympian is one of the local icons featured. You can learn more about the artwork from this KING-5 clip.
Bird’s image is a popular one in Seattle, of course. She was the billboard ad from Tukwila to Ballard prior to the season tipping off and was voted to grace the NikeTown billboard downtown in 2003, replacing Sonics legend Gary Payton.

PRESIDENTIAL BBQ: I’ll hopefully have more details from Storm practice on Tuesday, but after F Swin Cash scored a game-high 22 points in the win against San Antonio, she caught a red-eye to Washington, D.C. to attend a picnic hosted by President Obama. Cash, pictured above courtesy of her Twitter account, also was able to tour the White House.
The event regarded the President’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. He spoke of a redesigned site, Fatherhood.gov., asking supporters to help find ways to have an impact on responsible parenting. Obama spoke of his own father’s absence.
Cash, who has participated in readings to children at the White House, has her own foundation working with children.
FIRST GIG: Former Washington standout Michelle Augustavo was happy via e-mail, sharing news that she’s been hired as an assistant coach at Sacramento State University. Augustavo, whose father is a coach, previously served as an intern for Seattle University coach Joan Bonvicini.
Augustavo just finished a camp and returned to Seattle on Sunday. She’s packing up her things to prepare to move to California, heading on the road for recruiting July 8.
“I’m really excited to have already started calling recruits, etc.,” she said in the e-mail.
Augustavo has long wanted to coach, experiencing several styles in her college career. She said Washington coach Tia Jackson was one of her best mentors.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY FIBA: Friday marked the 78th anniversary of the international governing body FIBA. The acronym is actually from the French naming -e Federation Internationale de Basketball — when a group under first president Leon Bouffard gathered in Geneva in 1932. Men’s basketball joined the Olympics four years later and in 1953, FIBA organized its first women’s World Championships.
Today, basketball is the most popular indoor sport in the world with over 450 million people regularly participating in the sport on all levels.
POW: The WNBA named Augustus and Charles its Players of the Week.

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