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Women's basketball: Tipping things off
A list of fives to help get you ready for the upcoming college basketball season, which begins Monday.
By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 5, 2007
5 Must-see early games
1. Arizona State at North Carolina, Nov. 11
The West Coast hasn't had a Final Four team since Stanford in 1997, so this is about the Pac-10 getting some conference clout in the heart of ACC country.
2. Tennessee vs. Oklahoma in Tampa, Nov. 15
Individual showdowns don't get bigger than Candace Parker vs. Courtney Paris. It's the Sooners' chance to validate themselves nationally.
3. Maryland at Rutgers, Dec. 3
Both teams have tons back from squads that reached recent championship games; this is a test to see if Rutgers can find the same chemistry that carried it in March.
4. Pittsburgh vs. Duke in New York, Dec. 8
The first Maggie Dixon Classic could be a breakout for brother Jamie's school; if Duke's freshmen haven't meshed yet, watch for a Panthers upset.
5. California at Stanford, Jan. 26
Why did Joanne Boyle stay at Cal? With only one senior, the Golden Bears are contenders now and as loaded for 2009 as anybody. They can prove it on this night.
5 Favorites for Tampa
Start with the defending champs, who have four starters back, led by junior Candace Parker (19.6 ppg, 9.9 rpg) and speedy senior guards Alexis Hornbuckle and Shannon Bobbitt. Can they repeat?
Three years without a Final Four appearance? Geno Auriemma is a hoops Joe Torre, trying to get back to his threepeat days of 2002-04. Sophomore Tina Charles and freshman phenom Maya Moore lead an experienced lineup ready for a title.
The nucleus from the 2006 champs is still together, with senior center Crystal Langhorne leading a balanced frontcourt and junior guard Kristi Toliver bringing the swagger that gave the Terps a title in Boston.
Athletic genes? Junior twins Courtney and Ashley Paris saw dad Bubba play for the 49ers. Sophomore Abi Olajuwon is Hakeem's daughter. And Ben Roethlisberger's sister Carlee is a freshman forward.
Everybody's back from last year's run to the championship game. Those freshmen have considerably more experience, and C. Vivian Stringer has strong leadership from seniors Matee Ajavon and Essence Carson and junior Kia Vaughn.
5 Super seniors
1. Sylvia Fowles
6-6 center, LSU
Dominant player goes for her fourth Final Four, but with new coach Van Chancellor, she could double-double her way to the title the Tigers keep missing.
2. Erlana Larkins
6-1 forward, North Carolina
Great rebounder at 9.4 per game, should improve on 12.9 ppg and make first-team All-ACC for third year in a row.
3. Crystal Langhorne
Scoring dropped to 14.9 as a junior, but she led the nation in shooting percentage: 70 percent from the field. No, that's not a typo.
4. Candice Wiggins
Maybe the game's best outside shooter, hitting 44 percent of her 3-pointers last season. She and 6-4 soph Jayne Appel are a legit inside-outside threat.
5. Matee Ajavon
5-8 guard, Rutgers
Stats aren't jaw-dropping, but she's a leader and a tournament player, having averaged 15.9 points in the conference and NCAA tourneys.
5 Newcomers to watch
1. Maya Moore
6-0 forward, Connecticut
Two-time Naismith national player of year went 125-3 in high school in Georgia.
2. Jasmine Thomas
Taking over for Lindsay Harding isn't easy, but Thomas could be Duke's next big-time star.
3. Italee Lucas
5-8 guard, North Carolina
Ivory Latta is gone, and Lucas starts a new backcourt era in Chapel Hill.
4. Krystal Thomas
From Orlando, she joins 6-5 Chante Black inside, so Duke has little dropoff from Alison Bales.
5. Jantel Lavender
6-4 center, Ohio State
Second in scoring and rebounding for U.S. under-19 team that won a world championship.
5 Coaches under pressure
1. Joanne P. McCallie, left
Tough act to follow, Part One: Maryland and UNC get a new twist on their great rivalries.
2. Gail Goestenkors
Tough act to follow, Part Two: Easy to improve on 18-14, but her Duke success means high expectations.
3. Van Chancellor
He has won as a pro and an Olympic coach and knows the SEC as well as anyone.
4. Joanne Boyle
Turning down Duke means you have to like what you have; she can go from primo recruiter to proven winner.
5. Amanda Butler
Jeremy Foley took a chance on young, unproven alum Butler, left; needs more than a 2-12 SEC record.
1. Arizona State
Last year's run ended in the Elite Eight to Rutgers; watch out for Briann January and two big transfers inside. Cal and Stanford will have their hands full with the Sun Devils.
Former Maryland assistant Jeff Walz has the Big East's best scorer in junior forward Angel McCoughtry, right; can the Cardinals become a Big East challenger to UConn and Rutgers?e_SClB3. Pittsburgh
Three true stars in physical center Marcedes Walker, speedy guard Shavonte Zellous (from Orlando) and shooter Mallorie Winn, who missed last year with an injury.
4. George Washington
Midmajors in the women's game have it harder than the men, but 6-4 junior center Jessica Adair could lead G-Dub to the Sweet 16 and perhaps beyond.
5. Florida State
Made last year's Sweet 16 as a No. 10 seed, but it could be a top-four seed this time, hiding in the shadow of the ACC's Big 3.