Sun, Comets soar into All-Star break

Updated: July 6, 2005, 10:51 AM ET
By Mechelle Voepel | Special to ESPN.com

The WNBA All-Star Game is just around the corner, which means it's time to check in with our midseason awards and predictions:

MVP: Connecticut's Taj McWilliams-Franklin

She's a leader, she's consistent, she's impacting her team in many ways ... and the Sun have the best record in the WNBA.

Rookie of Year: Washington's Temeka Johnson

She's producing with points, assists and even some rebounds at 5-foot-3. She's also playing more minutes than any other rookie. Johnson has been better than even the Mystics expected. Think LSU is going to miss her next season?

Coach of Year: Connecticut's Mike Thibault

He has kept the momentum going forward after last year's run to the WNBA Finals. What a great time to have the All-Star Game in the Nutmeg State.

Biggest surprise so far

Houston has done very well holding its own even without Tina Thompson. Sheryl Swoopes has been tremendous, and everyone has pulled a little extra weight for the Comets.

Biggest disappointment so far

With an offense averaging fewer than 60 points per game, it's a wonder the Charlotte Sting (2-12) have won any games. No. 1 draft pick Janel McCarville hasn't had the chance to have much of a rookie season thus far.

Team on the rise

OK, with the parity in this league, you might do as well pulling names out of a hat. In fact, I almost did that. But ... I'll say Houston is going to finish strongly. However, the Comets' schedule is tough. It'd be nice for them to have Tina Thompson back for August.

Predicted playoff teams

Projected "final four" playoff teams: Connecticut and Indiana; Sacramento and Houston. In September, please don't remember I said this ... unless it turns out to be right.

Second-half story lines to watch

• When will Tina Thompson return to the Comets, and how effective will she be this season? Thompson recently told W.H. Stickney Jr. of the Houston Chronicle that she'll be ready to come back "whenever I can run up and down the court about five or six times and not feel like I'm about to pass out. So I'm just going to kind of take it day by day."

• Can anybody in the East catch Connecticut? Don't count on it. The Sun are undefeated at home and play 10 of their last 14 regular-season games there.

• Will Phoenix's Sandora Irvin, the No. 3 pick overall, be given enough time on the floor to score even a single point this season?

• Could a Sue Bird fan in Seattle invent the world's most protective but least annoying face mask? There must be enough brainiacs in that city to get this done.

• Just for the fun of it, might Detroit "trade" -- cough, cough -- and then re-sign Andrea Stinson yet again this season?

Mechelle Voepel of The Kansas City Star is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. She can be reached at mvoepel@kcstar.com.

Mechelle Voepel joined ESPN.com in 1996 and covers women's college hoops, the WNBA, the LPGA, and additional collegiate sports for espnW.

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