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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

1. Tennessee

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?

2. Connecticut

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.

3. Maryland

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.

4. Oklahoma

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.

5. Rutgers

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

6-2 center,Maryland

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

5-11, Stanford

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

5-9 guard,Duke

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

6-4 center,Duke

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

Duke

Tough act to follow, Part One: Maryland and UNC get a new twist on their great rivalries.

2. Gail Goestenkors

Texas

Tough act to follow, Part Two: Easy to improve on 18-14, but her Duke success means high expectations.

3. Van Chancellor

LSU

He has won as a pro and an Olympic coach and knows the SEC as well as anyone.

4. Joanne Boyle

Cal

Turning down Duke means you have to like what you have; she can go from primo recruiter to proven winner.

5. Amanda Butler

Florida

Jeremy Foley took a chance on young, unproven alum Butler, left; needs more than a 2-12 SEC record.

 



5 Cinderellas

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.

2. Louisville

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.