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2002-2003 Women's Schedule Analysis

11/22 East Carolina 7:00PM

2002 Recap: 5-21, # 247 RPI

The Scoop: To say that 2002 was a disappointing year for ECU is an
understatement. They were a decent 16-12 in 2001 but then had a record so
abysmal that it forced a coaching change. And it should come as no great
surprise that their new coach doesn't exactly have Pat Summitt's credentials:
Sharon Baldwin moved over from Mercer, after taking a horrendous team
and leading them to a winning record (16-13). ECU averaged 191 fans per
game in 2002 at home, which more than anything showed that something had to
be done to inject some new life into the program. To be fair, last year's
Pirate squad had 8 freshmen, 4 sophomores and only 2 seniors. The good news
for Baldwin is that leading scorer Courtney Willis is back for her junior
season. The bad news is that Willis only averaged 12.8 ppg and that second
leading scorer Kim Enoch is gone. ECU averaged an anemic 55.7 ppg last year,
due in part to a deliberate slowdown attempt as their opponents only averaged
55.8. The Pirates had no true playmaker, which showed in their 20+ turnovers
a game, nor could they shoot (33% from the floor, 29% from three). They
were a decent rebounding unit and forced 10 steals a game, showing that this
group at least has decent defensive fundamentals. Soph Jennifer Jackson
has potential as a shooter, hitting at a 34% clip last year. ECU is also
undersized, with Willis tying for tallest player at 6-2. Shanita Sutton,
one of the other 6-2 players, will have to step up her rebounding to replace
Enoch, who led the team with 7 boards a game. Starting off with Duke on
the road will be tough for Baldwin and her charges, though new coaches bring
new optimism and they will certainly have a "what have we got to lose"
attitude. If Duke isn't sharp early on, ECU could hang with them for a
few minutes. In the end, Duke should have too much of everything for ECU
to handle.

11/24 Tennessee 2:00PM ESPN2
(Jimmy V Women's Basketball Classic: ESA, Raleigh)

2002 Recap: 29-5 (NCAA Final Four), # 1 RPI, # 6 Final Poll
2003 Preseason Ranking: # 1

The Scoop: This could be one of the best games of the year. Tennessee and
Duke will most likely be 1-2 to start the polls and both have a great shot
at going to the Final Four. I would have to give Tennessee a slight edge
at this point of the season because they'll have fewer new players to
incorporate into their lineup at this stage, though this should be a classic
battle. Of course, Tennessee easily handled Duke last year by an 89-68 score.
They did it by hammering Duke on the boards, with forwards Gwen Jackson and
Shyra Ely doing most of the damage. Monique Currie also had one of the worst
games of her career, as none of her shots were falling. Duke learned a lot
from that game and didn't lose again for a long time after the loss. UT
continued to have their usual outstanding season, beating 14 top-25 teams
while only losing twice to UConn (including once in the Final Four) and once
to quality teams like Texas, LSU and Vanderbilt. With UConn depleted of
its experience, the Lady Vols feel like they can seize the national title
that they haven't won since 1998.

Tennessee lost one important player: 6-5 dunkin' machine Michelle Snow.
She had a love-hate relationship with coach Pat Summitt, who liked her
athleticism but was displeased with her effort on defense at times. Snow
did average 12.3 ppg and 6.5 rpg, and blocked nearly 2 a game. UT also
had two players transfer: junior April McDivitt, a guard whose importance
waned with the emergence of Loree Moore; and power forward Michelle Munoz,
who simply wasn't satisfied with getting just 10 minutes a game. Losing
McDivitt's experience hurts a little, but the team belongs to warrior Kara
Lawson, one of the toughest guards in the country. While just an average
shooter (33% from three), she led the team with 15.1 ppg and also grabbed
4.9 rpg. Lawson (whom Duke recruited heavily) is the team's heart and soul.

Also in the backcourt is Moore, a pass-first, defensively oriented guard.
She averaged around 4 apg and led the team with 80 steals, and also scored
5.7 ppg. The Vols have a formidable pair of forwards in Ely and Jackson.
Ely was one of the better frosh in the country last year, averaging 9.3 ppg
and 5.4 rpg. I expect those numbers to go up this year. Jackson managed
to beat her injury problems and averaged 10.5 and 6.2. When Jackson & Ely
were on, it was hard to stop their quickness and aggressiveness. Other
returning players expected to contribute are forward Brittany Jackson
(6.5 ppg and 38% 3FG), center Ashley Robinson (who is a candidate to
start at 6-5 and who averaged 4.7 ppg and 2.6 rpg) and guard Tasha Butts
(who averaged 4.3 and 3.0). Summitt loves to use as much of her bench
as possible, so expect to see all of these players against Duke.

Summitt also has two highly-regarded frosh coming in: 6-5 Tye'sha Fluker
and guard Shanna Zolman, both top ten recruits. Fluker is expected to
compete for the starting center position, though after seeing her play it
may take awhile to adjust to the physical play in college ball. Zolman was
recruited to shore up Tennessee's biggest weakness: outside shooting. While
the Lady Vols weren't a bad perimeter team, they weren't a great one either,
shooting 34% from three as a team. McDivitt was their best shooter at 40%.
Zolman shot over 50% from the bonus stripe in high school and certainly
isn't shy about taking that shot. She may well be the missing piece in
their national championship puzzle.

Tennessee has no real weaknesses. Lawson provides great leadership and
a player who isn't afraid to take the big shot. Robinson and Fluker provide
size, while Jackson and Ely provide quickness inside. Moore is a true
distributor. There is solid bench support and experience. This team has
been to the Final Four and has also experienced some crushing losses.
Duke's advantage in this game is that it will be played in Raleigh, away
from UT's overwhelming home advantage. Tennessee is one of the big reasons why
Duke recruited Mistie Bass and Brooke Smith: to help on the boards. Every one
of Duke's post players must step up and control the boards or UT will win
this one again. One big difference from last year's game is that Duke now
has the depth to match Tennessee's, player for player. Beard, Tillis and
Currie don't have to do everything in this game, and Duke will only
succeed if the bench makes some significant contributions. I think the other
thing that will help Duke is the confidence that they gained by making it
to the Final Four and winning the ACC in such a dominant fashion. They are
no longer the green group that was intimidated by UT last year. I fully
expect this game to go down to the wire, and wouldn't be at all surprised
to see the two teams meet again in the NCAA Tournament.

11/28 Hampton TBA Paradise Jam Tournament, US Virgin Isl.

2002 Recap: 17-14, # 165 RPI

The Scoop: The Lady Pirates have long been one of the best programs in the
MEAC. It was a bit of an upset to see them fall in the MEAC finals to
Norfolk State, the team that was carved up by Duke in the first round of
the NCAA's last year. Hampton does have one interesting attribute to discuss
for openers: they seem to have the largest roster in Division I. They
have 11 players returning and add 8 new players, which would seem to be 4
over the limit of 15. It's possible that not all of these players are on
scholarship, but that's still quite a large roster to deal with. Hampton
returns their best player in 5-5 guard Lashondra Dixon. While she's the
point guard, she took almost as many shots as the next two highest players
combined. She earned it, though--she played 36 minutes a game, scoring 17.6
and grabbing 4.7 rebounds while dishing out 3 assists per game. She also
had 2.5 steals a game. The downside is that she only shot 31% from the field
and turned the ball over 4 times a game. Second leading scorer Lineni Noa
is gone after averaging 13.7 ppg. But the inside tandem of Halisi Johnson
(10.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Nicole Brathwaite (9.1, 6.8) return and will probably
get some more touches. Both are slightly undersized for the post at just
6-1. Beyond that group, there wasn't a whole lot of offensive production,
as the team averaged just 65.4 ppg. They did force 11 steals a game and
24 turnovers a game overall, holding opponents to 62.3 ppg. Still, this
team didn't shoot well (34.7%, 23.5% from three) and was sloppy with the
ball (nearly 20 turnovers a game). The one thing to remember is that this
is a proud program that is happy to take on big name teams. They lost
by just 3 points to Virginia, beat Kansas and played against Tulane and
Virginia Tech. There's also no telling how good their frosh will be. This
is a game that Duke should win, but the Devils should expect a tough defense
and must watch the ball. They must also make sure that Dixon is contained;
otherwise, that could give Hampton some confidence.

A word on the Paradise Jam: there are actually several sub-tournaments
going on here, with Duke part of the exempt status 3-game tournament with
4 teams. This means that Duke definitely will play Hampton, Old Dominion
and Arkansas in a three day span--quite a big challenge for all involved.
Depth will certainly be a key factor in these games, which will be a perfect
time to see what Duke's frosh are made of.

11/29 Old Dominion TBA Paradise Jam Tournament, US Virgin Isl.

2002 Recap: 28-6 (NCAA Elite Eight), # 16 RPI, # 15 Final Poll
2003 Preseason Ranking: # 21

The Scoop: ODU has long been one of the major powers of women's college
hoops. Beating the Lady Monarchs in the 1999 run to the championship game
was almost as meaningful to me as beating Tennessee; that's how consistent
a program they've had. 2002 didn't look like it was going to be a vintage
season for ODU, however. Sure, they dominated the always-weak CAA, but
they lost most of their significant non-conference matchups. They were
whipped to the tune of double digits by both UNC and NC State and upset by
a mediocre Virginia Tech team. Then they were introduced to a world of pain
by both UConn and Tennessee. Only a narrow win over Penn State redeemed
their non-conference schedule. But as the team stormed through the CAA,
they started to gel. And given very little chance to do much of anything
in the NCAA's, they proceeded to upset #2 seed Purdue and #3 seed Kansas State
on their way to the Elite Eight. They may well have gone even further if
they hadn't run into unbeaten UConn again.

The bad news for ODU is that they lose 4 of their top 6 players. The good
news is that they went nine deep last year and return 5 of 9. The losses
were considerable: leading scorer and 2nd leading rebounder Lucienne Berthieu;
leading rebounder (not to mention 2nd in assists and 3rd in scoring)
Hamchetou Maiga; assist leader (& 5th leading scorer) Sharron Francis; and
versatile 6-3 center Tiffany Thompson, who shot 42% from three and averaged
nearly 3 assists per game. All four players were selected in the WNBA draft,
with Berthieu going #12 overall. The good news is that second leading scorer
Okiesha Howard is back, going for 12.1 ppg. Other significant returnees include
wing Monique Coker, a slashing type who can rebound; playmaker Shareese
Grant; and three point specialist Myriah Spencer. The Lady Monarchs will
also have the services of 6-6 redshirt frosh Corrina Turner, out with an ACL
tear last year. Another redshirted player who could see significant playing
time is Max Nhassengo, a 5-10 wing. Incoming players include 6-4 JuCo center
Cassandra Calwell, top 40 guard Lawona Davis and top 100 guard Shantel Wilson.
ODU will have plenty of size and athleticism. They will need to get some
consistent outside shooting, someone to take over the rebounding load inside,
and a lot more experience. By the end of the year, I would expect them to
be an outstanding team. In November, I expect Duke's athleticism and offensive
firepower to give them an edge, though the Monarchs held their opponents to
35% from the floor, blocked 5 shots and got 10 steals per game, and were
efficient themselves, shooting 48% from the field. Coach Wendy Larry will
likely go deep into her bench and try to control the tempo; it should be
an interesting matchup and one of the more challenging of the year for Duke.

11/30 Arkansas TBA Paradise Jam Tournament, US Virgin Isl.

2002 Recap: 20-12 (NCAA 2nd Round), # 29 RPI
2003 Preseason Ranking: # 14

The Scoop: Arkansas should prove to be one of Duke's toughest foes this
year. Last year's young squad got better and better as the season went
on, and the 2003 edition returns the top three scorers from that team as
well as a top-10 recruiting class. The team went through a lot of growing
pains at the hands of their SEC foes, not to mention surprising losses to
the likes of Northern Iowa and SMS. Their toughest stretch came in
January, when they lost 5 out of 6, including in OT at Mississippi State.
But then they surprisingly crushed top 10 South Carolina and whipped
Vanderbilt, both at home, and went on to record victories against top 25
Georgia and USC again in the SEC Tournament. After knocking off Clemson
in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, they lost to homestanding
Kansas State in the second round.

Arkansas only has one major loss to deal with: point guard Amy Wright.
She led the team with 6.3 apg and also scored 6.4 ppg. Frosh Rochelle
Vaughn is a good candidate to take over at that position. But the real
talent on the team is the big three of forward Shameka Christon and
guards Dana Cherry & India Lewis. Christon averaged an impressive 16.6 ppg
and 6.5 rpg and also shot 31% from three. She was also the team's best
defender, leading them in blocks and also getting 2 steals per game.
Lewis was the team's mad bomber, hitting 33% of her 258 attempts from
long range, good for 13.9 ppg. Cherry was a slasher who scored 13.2 ppg
and grabbed 4.8 rpg for the Ladybacks. Also returning is wing Lakishia
Harper, another slasher who scored 5.9 ppg coming off the bench. At center,
Kiesha Beard started for much of the season, scoring just 3.5 ppg but
grabbing 5.3 rpg. Her job was simply to play defense and rebound. Backing
up Christon is 6-1 Shanna Harmon, a versatile forward who scored 3.4 ppg.

The big frosh find is Ruby Vaden, a top 15 player who dominated the
postseason All-Star games. Simply put, she's 6-3 of mean. She's both
skilled and aggressive, attacking the boards relentlessly. I wouldn't
be a bit surprised if she pushes Beard to the bench, giving the Ladybacks
some quality depth. If Vaughn doesn't work out at point (and she'll
have every opportunity), look for Lewis to switch over. The other three
frosh are all wings: Redd Coleman, Kristin Moore, and Sarah Pfeifer. The
latter two are borderline top 100 players, while Coleman is top 75. They
will make Arkansas extremely deep and allow coach Gary Blair some options.

Arkansas is not a great shooting team, nor do they have a lot of size.
Vaden will certainly help with the latter, however. They force a lot of
turnovers and drive to the basket a lot, and simply have a lot of offensive
options. At 6-1, Christon is a tough matchup, one that will likely
demand that Currie steps up. Duke will need to force Arkansas into bad
shots, clog up the lanes, and try to go inside as much as possible. This
will be yet another excellent early season test for Duke, especially
after playing an opponent like Old Dominion.

12/6 Howard 8:00PM Duke Classic

2002 Recap: 19-10, # 125 RPI

The Scoop: Howard was one of the best teams in the MEAC last year, losing
only 1 regular season conference game. Unfortunately, they ran into Hampton
in the first round and had their postseason hopes dashed. Unlike a lot
of other MEAC teams, they actually scored a lot of points, averaging 77.6
ppg. Of course, their uptempo style meant that opponents got 71.2 ppg
of their own. The leader of the team, center Andrea Gardner, was drafted
by the WNBA, with the #27 pick. She averaged an impressive 15.6 ppg and
11.6 rpg, and blocked 34 shots. Unfortunately for Howard, she won't be
around this year. Four of the other top five players do return, including
the guard trio of Asia Petty, Simone Agee, and Essence Coggins. That group
combined for nearly 28 ppg last year, with Petty the group's three point
shooter (at 31%), while Agee & Coggins split ballhandling duties. Also
returning is second leading scorer & rebounder Courtney Kirk, a 6-0 forward
who averaged 12.5 ppg and 5.5 rpg and shot 31% from the three point line.
The Bison will be counting on backup center Shauna Ruglass to step up her
production; 4.8 ppg and 3.4 rpg won't cut it for a team that will desperately
need help inside.
The Bison went 17-1 in conference but only 2-9 out of it. That included
a 60 (!) point loss to UNC, a 20 point beating to Toledo (who also beat
Duke last year), a 25 point drubbing against Virginia, and even a 20 point
defeat against lowly St Francis. They depended on Gardner for so much
at both ends of the court, and it will be difficult for the Lady Bison to
deal with her being gone. That will be especially true in Cameron. Howard
likes to trap and force turnovers (to the tune of 25 per game), but they
will find that strategy dangerous against a team that loves to run as much
as Duke. If their guards are productive, they could keep it close for
awhile, but Duke's superior size and speed should tell very quickly. It's
no fault of the program or the coach, both of whom have proud traditions of

12/8 St. Joseph's 2:00PM Duke Classic

2002 Recap: 24-8 (WNIT 2nd round), # 83 RPI

The Scoop: St Joseph's had a very nice record against some mostly mediocre
competition last year, and that's why they wound up in the WNIT despite
getting 24 wins. They were blown out by ACC bottom dweller Florida State
and were unable to defeat a reborn Temple program, losing all 3 contests,
including the conference tournament championship. Still, the Hawks had a
good season, due mostly to senior forward Susan Moran. She led the team
with 23 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2 steals and 2 assists per game, and a gaudy 53%
shooting percentage from the floor. Moran loved contact and going to the
foul line, getting nearly 8 trips per game. Her absence will leave a huge
void, and it will be compounded with the loss of playmaker Jane Meade (5 apg)
and shooter Amy Snell (4.8 ppg).
The good news is that SJU returns a solid frontcourt. Stephanie Graff was
the team's second leading scorer and rebounder at 10.8 and 7.1. She
also had 37 blocks and shot an amazing 62% from the floor as an undersized
(6-2) center. It's likely that she'll move over to PF so that 6-5
Irina Krasnoshiok can get some more minutes. A true euro-player, she hit
10 of her 22 threes last year but only averaged 3 rebounds a game. Also
returning is another European in Amra Mehmedic, the team's third leading
scorer at 9.6 ppg but its most prolific three point scorer with 66 out of
190. Things get fuzzy beyond that. The likely starting backcourt will
be Elizabeth Mohan and Colleen McGahan, both of whom got double figures
in minutes last year. McGahan's season was cut short at just 23 games,
but she will likely play a major role this year.
SJU's size and Graff in particular will give Duke some tough matchups,
but they will have trouble dealing with Duke's guards. The Hawks turned
the ball over 18 times a game last year and may have trouble getting
the ball into Graff, who will surely receive a lot of extra attention.
If SJU is to have a chance to win, they'll have to shoot lights-out from
three. They have the potential to do this, but dealing with Duke's pressure
and their interior depth will make it very difficult, especially on the
road. Still, this should be a good matchup for Duke should it come to
pass in the Duke Classic. While I don't think SJU will explode the way
South Carolina did last year, they should still be a threat to win in the

12/8 Buffalo 2:00PM Duke Classic

2002 Recap: 9-19, # 240

The Scoop: Duke will only play Buffalo in the Duke Classic if the Devils
lose their first round game and St Joseph's wins theirs, or if St Joseph's
loses their first round game and Duke wins theirs. Let's just say that the
latter scenario is far more likely to occur than the former. Womenscollegehoops
.com is in fact predicting the Bulls to upset the Hawks in this game. I
can sort of see why, despite their awful record. Their top four players
return, including the guard trio of Jessica Kochendorfer, Kate McMeeken-
Ruscoe and Erin Lawrenson, as well as forward Kim Kilpela. Kochendorfer
averaged 14.8 ppg and 7.8 rpg and blocked over 2 shots per game; not bad for
a 6-1 wing. McMeeken-Ruscoe was the most prolific three point shooter, hiting
30% of her shots and scoring 12.2 ppg. She also dished 3.1 apg. Lawrenson
was the team's best overall shooter, sinking 36% of her threes, while
Kilpela averaged 8.9 ppg and 6.3 rpg. Their opponents generally outrebounded
them and forced a lot of turnovers, and they only managed to put up 54.8
ppg. Still, they bring back experience and a couple of double-digit scorers
against a team that will be without its double-digit scorer. I wouldn't
bet the rent on it, but there is a possibility that they could wind up
meeting Duke.

12/16 Charleston Southern 7:00PM

2002 Recap: 12-16, # 242 RPI

The Scoop: Duke sometimes plays good teams from small conferences, and
those games are often competitive for a few minutes because teams like
Liberty know how to win. It doesn't take long for talent and superior
athleticism to win out, however. Then there are times when Duke plays
bad teams from small conferences. The game here against Charleston Southern
is one such example. Three of their wins came against non-Division I
opponents. The Lady Buccaneers (continuing Duke's apparent pirate theme
in this year's non-conference games) did play a fairly tough schedule,
party because a lot of teams scheduled them to be their patsy. They
absorbed a 50 point beating against NC State, a 20-point whipping against
Clemson and a double-digit loss against Auburn. They lost three times
to Liberty, a team Duke beat by 40 or so points.

They do return two double digit scorers in guards Tamara Ruzic and Katie
LaRue. Playmaker Marea Daniels will also be back. What CS lacks is
size of any kind. Moderately used center Amanda Ekberg must step up
right away to replace the production of Eboni Littlejohn and Cesurian
Champagne (a first ballot all-name hall of famer). CSU does have
experience with 5 seniors and 2 juniors, but an undersized team that could
only managed 60 ppg against weak competition will not last long against
Alana & Co. Truly, this game is an "exam break special."

12/18 Florida International 7:00PM

2002 Recap: 27-6 (NCAA 2nd Round), # 11 RPI, # 25 Final Poll
2003 Preseason Ranking: # 47

The Scoop: FIU has long been known as an enthusiastic recruiter of foreign
players. Last year's squad had players from Turkey, Bulgaria, Latvia,
Hungary and Spain, with 8 foreign players in all. They also played a
demanding non-conference schedule, getting whipped by UConn in the preseason
WNIT, beating Big Ten squads Michigan State & Northwestern, beating MWC team
Colorado State and falling to Virginia & Boston College. They had to
play such a schedule to get a good RPI rating since they compete in the lowly
Sun Belt conference, made much weaker when Louisiana Tech left. FIU
did their job, going 13-1 in conference play and easily winning the automatic
bid in the conference tournament finals.

The Golden Panthers did it with balanced scoring and dominant rebounding.
Four players averaged in double figures and three pulled down more than
seven boards a game. Three players also had more than 100 assists. They
shot 45% as a team and held their opponents under 40%. FIU put up a solid
74.7 ppg, holding their foes to just 62. They were not the quickest of
squads and also had some trouble playing on the road, but otherwise
were an extremely solid club that leaned heavily on their seniors.

Of course, this means that they lost a large percentage of their scoring
and rebounding. 6-1 forwards Gergana Slavtcheva and Cheryl Moody were
the team's dominant forces. Slavtcheva averaged 16.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, had
107 assists and shot 34% from three. Moody averaged 15 ppg and a team-leading
11.5 rpg, along with nearly 3 steals per game. The good news is that
shotblocking forward Cormisha Cotton returns, along with sweet-shooting
guard Mandy Shafer. Cotton had 43 blocks to go along with her 13.8 ppg
and 7.6 rpg, wile Shafer shot 36% from three while scoring 10.4 ppg.
Playmakers Deniz Boz and Anita Heller also return, with Heller looking
to improve upon her 7 ppg. Boz led the team in assists but missed a number
of games due to injury. Talented soph center Dace Cinite will likely
step up and start, and she'll need to improve her numbers across the board.

FIU will be a very tough matchup because of their good size, passing
ability and ability to score inside and out. They probably won't look to
run much but instead slow down the game a little and set screens until
they can get a good look. Duke will have to be very patient in this game,
fight through every pick and watch out for the open shooters on defense.
Offensively, they have to take it right to them--I'm not sure FIU can
match Duke's speed, and they can be turned over for easy fast break
baskets. More than anything, Duke has to dominate the boards. If they
do that, they cut out FIU's greatest strength and will nullify a
number of easy baskets. Doing this has been easier said than done for
Duke since blocking out is difficult for a team that spreads the court
on defense. Once again that's why Mistie Bass and Brooke Smith were
brought in. Along with Whitley and Tillis, the two frosh will go a long
way in helping to shore up this weakness.

12/21 @ Tulsa 9:00PM

2002 Recap: 17-13, # 109 RPI

The Scoop: This is basically the Iciss Tillis homecoming game. The Golden
Hurricane were an ordinary team in the WAC last year, losing all of their
significant non-conference games (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, & Arkansas) as
well as falling three times to Louisiana Tech. Tulsa did nothing exceptionally
well: they shot 41% as a team, barely outrebounded their opponents, shot
29% from three and scored only 64 ppg. They had two players average
double figures, and both are now gone. That would be Leela Farr, who
averaged a modest 13.3 ppg and 6.4 rpg; and Carla Morrow, who chipped in with
12.2 ppg and 6 rpg. Their best returning player is 6-4 center Alyssa
Shriver. She averaged over 2.5 blocks per game along with 9.4 ppg and 5.1
rpg. Seeing her match up against Tillis should be interesting.

Beyond Shriver, the Hurricane have six players who averaged double
figures in minutes last year. Of this group, power forward Becky
Heidotten is likely to make the biggest improvement on her numbers
(8.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg) as she teams up with Shriver in the post. The team
will have most of its trouble with guard play and wing scoring, unless
someone develops very quickly. Tulsa right now is a bit of mystery until
its younger players prove themselves. Against Duke, they will have a
big homecourt advantage, though Iciss will have her own cheering section.
Playing a hungry team on the road can lead to some funny results, as the
Toledo game last year proved for Duke. Playing without discipline,
without proper teamwork, can really fire up a crowd. If they stay close,
it could be a factor. I would guess that Duke will pack it in on Tulsa's
post players and heavily pressure their guards, and if this strategy
works, the game could be over very quickly. Still, Tulsa plays a lot
of good teams and won't be intimidated by Duke. Hopefully, it will
be a triumphant homecoming for Iciss.

12/27 Detroit TBA (South Padre Island Tournament, Texas)

2002 Recap: 16-14, # 168 RPI

The Scoop: Detroit was a mediocre Horizon league squad last year. The
best teams they played all year were intrastate foes Michigan and Michigan
State (both losses, with only Michigan a top 50 team in the RPI) and Siena,
#56 in the RPI. The Titans did manage to make it to the finals of the
Horizon Tournament, where they lost to Wisconsin-Green Bay for the third
time that year. All told, the Titans had three losses to teams ranked outside
the RPI's top 100 and three more to teams ranked outside the top 200.

The good news for Detroit is that they return their top scorer, post
Randee Henry. She averaged 15 ppg and 6.2 rpg in 2002. The bad news is
that they lost their starting backcourt, Molly Peterman (14.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg)
and Michelle James (14 ppg, 4 rpg, 5.7 apg, 3 spg). Peterman & James
also scored the bulk of the team's points from beyond the three point arc.
No other returnee averaged more than 5 ppg last year, and none of them
were guards. In the frontcourt, Sara Crum averaged 5 and 3, while Nicole
Anaejionu had 5 and 4. I have a feeling that Detroit will need to rely on
its six-woman recruiting class, none of whom were exactly All-Americans.
If Duke can contain Henry, they should be able to create lots of opportunities
for themselves by pressuring the Titans.

12/29 Iowa State TBA (South Padre Island Tournament, Texas)

2002 Recap: 24-9 (NCAA 2nd Round), # 13 RPI, # 11 Final Poll
2003 Preseason Ranking: # 15

The Scoop: The Cyclones won their first 12 games last year. While most of
them were against lesser opponents, they did beat solid teams like Drake,
Iowa and Auburn. Then came life in the brutal Big XII Conference, and
close losses to Texas and Kansas State--two excellent teams. That took so
much out of them that they somehow then dropped a game to Texas A&M. After
beating top-5 Oklahoma, they lost consecutive games to RPI top 20 teams
Texas Tech and Colorado. ISU righted their ship and reeled off 6 straight
wins, including revenge games against Colorado and Kansas State. After
beating Colorado again in the Big XII Tournament, they fell to Baylor.
Hosting the NCAA Tournament, they handled an overachieving Temple squad
before being upset by a scrappy BYU team that went farther than anyone
expected. It was a disappointing end for a senior-dominated team.

Iowa State loses 2/3 of its Big Three. The biggest loss is 6-4 All-America
center Angie Welle, who averaged 20.5 ppg and 11.3 rpg, along with nearly
2 blocks a game. Nearly as significant is the graduation of Tracy Gahan,
the team's best three point shooter (44%!) who put up 14.9 ppg and grabbed
7.6 rpg. The team's most significant problems come in the post, especially
since transfer Nina Smith, a former high school All-American, decided to
quit playing basketball. This means that redshirt frosh Brittany Wilkins
and 6-2 Lisa Kreiner will be expected to step in and play the post. Kreiner
averaged just 1.9 ppg and 2.7 rpg in 10 minutes of play each game last
year--if those numbers don't go up, ISU could be in real trouble.

The good news for the Cyclones is the return of point guard and prolific
three point shooter Lindsey Wilson. She put up an impressive 19.1 ppg
and 6.3 apg, and shot 39% from long range. As a senior, Wilson will be
the unquestioned leader of this team. There are three other seniors as
well, with wings Melanie Bremer and Mary Cofield likely to be the most
important. Both will look to improve upon their 6 ppg and 3.8 rpg averages.
While Erica Junod and Tracy Paustian will get a chance to compete for
Gahan's spot (both averaged about 4 ppg in 2002), the starting nod will
likely go to transfer Anne O'Neil, a high school All-American and one-time
Duke recruit. Look for her to average in double figures right away.

Duke should have a big advantage in the post against ISU and must exploit
their young players. Containing Wilson will be a tough task and holding
down O'Neil just as difficult. The two teams played in Durham in the 2001
season and Duke's superior quickness eventually won the game for them, but
Iowa State loves to rain down threes. I have a feeling that this team will
go to a three guard offense and spread the floor, so someone will have to
pick up the defensive slack other than Beard. I also expect ISU to run
more without the big but immobile Welle clogging up the middle, though it
certainly remains to be seen if they can run with Duke. The Cyclones will
have a lot to prove in this game and should provide a stiff test, especially
from the perimeter.

1/6 Clemson 7:00PM RSN
2/6 @ Clemson 7:00PM

2002 Recap: 17-12 (NCAA 1st Round), # 58 RPI

The Scoop: Clemson once again had a decent season and made it to the NCAA
tournament, but by their own standards, they just barely got by. In fact, if
it wasn't for a win over a South Carolina team that went to the Elite Eight,
they probably would have missed the tournament. What went wrong for Clemson?
Their biggest problem was trying to replace Erin Batth's defensive presence
in the post. Clemson brought in several new post players, and none of them
really measured up. In fact, their newcomers in general failed to impress,
other than forward Leah Roper, who averaged a modest 5.5 ppg and 5 rpg.

Clemson was erratic in the early going. They beat good teams like Illinois
and South Carolina, but then lost to squads like Furman and UMASS. A loss
to a bottom-feeding Maryland group was followed by a big win over Penn State.
Things got really bad when they lost to Wake Forest. Two wins over Virginia
and three straight wins to end the regular season saved their postseason
appearance, but it was very close.

The Tigers lose a couple of very important players. Point guard Krystal
Scott is gone after leading the team with 3.8 apg and scoring 10.4 ppg.
Versatile wing Marci Glenney is also done, getting about 10 & 4 a game and
providing a decent three point presence. Replacing Scott will likely be Julie
Talley, a top 50 frosh. She'll be competing with junior Kanetra Queen for
the job.

The good news for Clemson is that their best player, Chrissy Floyd, is
back. She blossomed into a true superstar last year, making first team
All-ACC and All-Defensive. Scoring 18 ppg, she extended her range to the
tune of 31% from the three point line. Floyd will be the top option on
offense, and must be prepared for face guarding and junk defenses. At wing,
the promising Julie Aderhold will step in to take Glenney's minutes. She's
a solid shooter and is ready to add to her 6.5 ppg average. Center Maggie
Slosser may need to be ready to shoot more. She's a typical Clemson
widebody who averaged 6.4 ppg and 5 rpg. Coming in off the bench to add
some offense is Lakeia Stokes, who scored 5.8 ppg. In addition to Talley,
there are also two post players and another wing coming in; 6-4 Amanda
White has the best chance of early playing time.

Davis' teams have always been renowned for their defense and rebounding,
but in recent years the talent he's brought in has really slipped in those
areas. Clemson was one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, with
no true post presence to block out. Defensively, they sometimes looked
lackadaisical. They had no shortage of athletes, but sometimes players who
like to run don't do well in halfcourt situations. Davis always does more
with less, but even he isn't a magician. Repeats of losses to Furman and
Wake Forest cannot happen again if the program is to stay an ACC contender.
It was only the league's having a down year that enabled the Tigers to
get a top three finish. Still, it is never wise to underestimate Davis,
even when he seems to run out of firepower. He still has one of the league's
best players and a season to experiment with his new players. They came
very close to beating Duke in Durham and ending their undefeated season
and are usually very tough to beat at home.

1/9 @ Virginia 7:30PM
2/10 Virginia 7:00PM RSN

2002 Recap: 17-13 (NCAA 1st Round), # 33 RPI
2003 Preseason Ranking: # 34

The Scoop: Debbie Ryan truly proved her greatness as a coach in 2002,
because she took a team with just four returning players and turned it
into an NCAA tournament squad. She did it by pressing a bunch of frosh
into immediate service and discovering a couple of stars. In particular,
frosh center Brandi Teamer was a revelation, earning ACC Rookie of the Year
by scoring 14.3 ppg and grabbing 8.9 rebounds per, doing it all as an
undersized player with little help inside. With all of their frosh a year
older, another great rookie class coming in, and having transfer Cherisse
Graham eligible, look for Virginia to challenge for the the ACC crown.

That's an amazing thing to say, considering how things started out
last year. They lost games to bad Richmond and Rutgers squads and almost
were upset by a scrappy Hampton club. After confidence-boosting wins
against solid clubs UCSB and Virginia Tech, they were then run off their
own court by Duke. Things were understandably up and down for the young
club: a big victory over FIU, a bad loss to Tulane. A big win at NC State
was followed by embarrassing losses to Clemson and Georgia Tech. It was
putting together three straight league wins in February that got them over
the hump. They almost managed to upset Duke in the ACC semifinals, being
a play away from tying the game and sending it into overtime.

Virginia does lose their best player for 2003, guard Telisha Quarles.
Always a tremendous talent and great athlete, she thrived as the team's
primary scorer. She wasn't a great shooter from three (32%), but she hit
enough of them to open up her tremendous driving ability. The Hoos hope
that Purdue transfer Graham can pick up some of that slack. Also
expected to boost their scoring totals are juniors Anna Prillaman and
Anna Crosswhite. Prillaman scored 9 ppg and shot 46% from three, while
Crosswhite scored 7 ppg and averaged 40% from the bonus stripe. The key
for Virginia will be if Teamer can get help inside. 6-4 Lynette O'Reggio
returns, but her weight and stamina were both concerns last year. Help
is on the way in the form of top-50 frosh center Deidra Chapman, who at 6-6
could pose some matchup problems. The Cavs also have top 100 players
Tiffany Sardin and Charita Roberts coming in as well, giving them as much
depth as anyone in the league, even if it is young and somewhat unproven.

There's no question that Virginia will be an upper division club next
year. How good they'll be will depend on a number of factors. First,
Graham must be able to either pick up Quarles' scoring slack or at least
make up for it by becoming a dazzling playmaker. If the Hoos don't get
another player with star talent other than Graham, then their postseason
life won't last very long. Second, the sophs need to improve. O'Reggio,
forward Jocelyn Logan-Friend and guard LaTonya Blue all need to step up.
Expectations will be higher for this team, but they definitely have the
talent to make it happen if they can continue with harmonious chemistry.
As long as they can develop at least one more star (but preferably two),
they will challenge Duke.

1/13 @ Georgia Tech 7:00PM RSN
2/13 Georgia Tech 7:00PM

2002 Recap: 15-14 (WNIT 1st Round), # 95 RPI
2003 Preseason Ranking: # 50

The Scoop: As always, Tech is a tough club to figure out. They have talent,
but always seem to be missing a key ingredient. They tend to have winning
seasons, but never seriously challenge for an ACC title or even an NCAA
berth. The Jackets also seem to pick up key injuries at exactly the wrong
time, and have also had some chemistry issues over the years with coach
Agnus Berenato. In 2002, there were some serious issues with star guard
Niesha Butler, a remarkable player who had missed time due to both academics
and a knee injury. When she came back there was nothing but acrimony, to
the point where she was booted off the team. Tech rebounded, winning 7 of
8 games, behind replacement point guard Nina Barlin. Tech was suddenly
in position for a first division finish and that long-coveted trip to the
NCAA's. Instead, Barlin got hurt and the Jackets fell apart, losing 8 of
their last 10 games. They even lost their first round WNIT game.

I'm still not sure which is more remarkable: that they fell apart so
rapidly, or that they got their act together in the first place. The
Jackets were heading towards yet another unremarkable season before the
ACC wars began, losing to Southern and getting pounded by a rebuilding
Georgia squad. When Butler was out for good, everyone rallied and the
Jackets pulled off upsets against Virginia, North Carolina and Clemson.
What was really surprising was the margin of victory: 30 against UVa,
20 against UNC (and on the road, no less). They were 6-3 in the ACC when
they went to Duke and got blown off the court; losing at home to lowly Wake
Forest in their next game was indicative of where their season was headed.

Tech loses two wonderful overachievers for 2003: scrappy guard Milli
Martinez and hustling rebound machine Regina Tate. Martinez was one of
the best rebounding guards ever in the ACC, grabbing 6.5 rpg as a senior,
scoring 12.3 ppg and dishing 3.9 apg. Tate returned from a serious injury
and averaged 12.7 ppg and 7.8 rpg. The good news is that Tech is bringing
in a huge freshman class that is highly ranked. That's important, because
their frosh class last year was largely unremarkable.

Tech's best returning players are senior Sonja Mallory (14.1 ppg, 8 rpg,
2 bpg), a quick and physical post presence; and Barlin, who was averaging
8.3 ppg and an eye-popping 7.9 assists per game before she got hurt. If
she comes back at full strength, Tech will be set at two crucial positions.
At wing will be Fallon Stokes, a solid role player who scored 10 ppg and
grabbed 4.9 rpg. Megan Isom (6.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg) and Nefertiti Walker (3.8 ppg)
will also grab some backcourt minutes, while Tamika Boatner (4 ppg) will
shore up the frontcourt.

That's a decent group, but it frankly lacks the starpower needed to win
in the ACC. This means that it will be up to the frosh to bring some
energy into the program and back up legitimate stars Barlin and Mallory.
The most likely candidate is 6-4 Kasha Terry, a top 30 player who will either
start or get big minutes as a backup. Other top 100 players include guard
Megan ("Matt's sister") Harpring, and forwards April Johnson & Jessica

How good this team can be is difficult to assess. Losing Martinez and
Tate really hurts their ability to score. Tech was the worst three point
shooting team in the league and they need a lot of help there. Martinez
and Tate also boosted their rebounding, which was the best in the league.
Terry is an excellent player but her skills are mirrored by Mallory; I'm
not sure how well playing both at once would work out. If four of their
six frosh really make an impact, then Tech can challenge for a first
division finish. If not, and their sophs stay at the same level, it could
be a long and painful year for the Jackets.

1/16 Wake Forest 7:00PM
2/17 @ Wake Forest 7:00PM RSN

2002 Recap: 12-16, # 121 RPI

The Scoop: Wake has been one of the worst teams in the conference for
the last several years, which makes their winning 5 league games and
coming in 7th place a minor accomplishment. The Deacs have long been
saddled with little talent or athleticism, along with some bad luck related
to injuries. There do seem to be some signs of life, especially with
programs like Maryland and FSU in flux at the moment. The Deacs actually beat
a couple of good ACC teams last year, including Clemson and UNC (for the
third straight year). Some of their younger players have proved to be
talented, with more on the way. But there's still an awful lot of work to
be done.

Wake's biggest problem is scoring. They were by far the worst offensive
team in the ACC. They had problems shooting, scoring from the field and
even making foul shots. Their defense and rebounding could have been better,
but it wasn't awful. But they had only one player who scored in double
digits--Tonia Brown, who averaged 13.9 ppg (along with 4.3 rpg, 2.5 apg
and shot 34% from three). Their only decent post scorer, LaChina Robinson,
has graduated after putting up 7.9 ppg and 6.1 rpg last year. Starting
point guard Adell Harris is also gone, having averaged 4.6 ppg and 3.9 apg
in 2002.

Wake's hopes lie in their junior class, consisting of Tonia Brown,
Bianca Brown (a promising, athletic point guard who scored 4.8 ppg last year)
and Eafton Hill. Hill was one of the best frosh in the conference two years
ago, but an injury greatly slowed her down. Still, she scored 7.1 ppg;
a fully healthy Hill could do a lot more. There are a couple of decent
seniors around in power forward Tiffani Listenbee (6.2 & 4.4) as well as
Tracy Alston (4.2 & 4.8). Neither are big-time players, but their experience
could help. The sophs could provide some help after showing signs of life
last year. The best was wing Erin Ferrell, who put up 5.1 ppg and 3.1 rpg.
Meredith Bell scored 3.8 ppg while fellow wing Jennifer Johnson put up
3.7. Wake has 5 frosh coming in, with the best of them 6-3 center Keila
Evans, a top 40 type player who was injured for much of her senior year.
If she pans out, Wake could get a major recruiting steal. Wake also has
a couple of frosh point guards coming in, along with a 6-6 center; I'm not
sure how quickly any of them will help.

Wake does not have enough talent to seriously contend for the ACC title
or even a first division finish. But if the stars align correctly, they
can improve upon their seventh place finish, if Hill regains her form,
the Browns continue to improve, the seniors provide some guidance (and
production) and the underclassmen provide some scoring punch. If two
more double figure scorers emerge for the Deacs, then things could get very
interesting for this program.

1/20 @ North Carolina 12:00N ESPN2
2/20 North Carolina 7:00PM RSN

2002 Recap: 26-9 (NCAA Sweet Sixteen), # 15 RPI, # 16 Final Poll
2003 Preseason Ranking: # 11

The Scoop: The rollercoaster ride known as the Nikki Teasley era has finally
come to an end, and it will be interesting to see how the Heels adjust.
Teasley's well-publicized struggle with depression obviously led to a career
that was rather bumpy, to put it mildly. While the team struggled to win
during her frequent absences (including an absurd 3-year losing streak to
Wake Forest on the road), it remains to be seen if her permanent absence
will lift the veil of uncertainty that's been hanging over the program since
1999 or if losing her talent will set the Heels back.

There were some easy ways to determine whether or not the Heels would win
in 2002, but by far the easiest was rebounding. Against UConn, the margin
was -39, which meant that UConn was able to recover from UNC's remarkable
three point shooting by simply sticking back anything they missed. South
Carolina was more of the same: a -20 margin led to a 30 point loss (though
considering that they beat Duke and went to the round of 8, this loss got
better as the season progressed). In losses to NC State and Georgia Tech,
the margins were -19 and -25, respectively. Another problem the Heels had
was at point guard. They kept 2001 starter Coretta Brown there for much of
the early part of the season and tried Teasley at wing. Teasley struggled
as she was trying to get used to playing again, even coming off the
bench for awhile as frosh Leah Metcalf performed so well. Through late January,
UNC's only significant win came against Old Dominion. Three straight ACC
losses left them 4-4 at the halfway point.

Losing by 20 to Duke caused coach Sylvia Hatchell to make some changes.
She reinstalled Teasley as point guard and moved Brown over to wing. With
the ball in her hands again, Teasley suddenly started playing the best hoops
of her career. The Heels won 8 straight games, including 2 against nearest
competitor Virginia. They were blown out once again by rival Duke, thanks
to a dreadful half of shooting. UNC went all the way to the ACC Tournament
finals, and blew a lead and the game to Duke for a third time. They hosted
an NCAA regional and beat an excellent Minnesota team and gave #1 seed
Vanderbilt all they wanted before falling. All in all, what could have
been another disaster like 2001 wound up as a solid year for the program.

UNC's big problem in recent years has been a lack of quality depth. It
will be up to the program's sophomores to provide that after three members
showed some flashes last year. But the team's big star will be Brown, who
averaged 17 ppg, 5 rpg, 3.4 apg and 39% from three. The one thing to note
about her is that the team has had trouble winning with her as the point.
The other big-time player is 6-6 center Candace Sutton, a slender but potent
force who averaged 12 ppg, 6.2 rpg and 2 blocks per game. She provided
them with the balance the team needed, though her range is limited. The
other returning player with star potential is Metcalf, who averaged 8.8 ppg
and 3.7 apg, playing with an injured hand for much of the time. The unsung
hero doing the dirty work has been forward Chrystal Baptist, getting 7.4 ppg
and 7.7 rpg. Her backup is the solid but unspectacular Jennifer Thomas,
getting 5.7 and 3.7.

The two other sophs who have a chance to make a big difference are wings
Nikki Bell and Kenya McBee, who both average around 5 ppg and 4 rpg. Bell
was a highly-touted prep, so it wouldn't be surprising to see her break out.
She will have to contend with a player many view as Teasley's offensive
replacement, 6-1 wing LaTangela Atkinson. While a remarkable athlete, her
shooting will take awhile to develop. Also, the Heels have top 100 player
Jessica Sell coming, though she may have some trouble getting minutes in
a crowded backcourt.

UNC will have size, experience and talent, and might have some depth if its
young players step up. Their quickness and scoring ability make them a
threat to beat anyone. Sutton's shot-blocking also provides them with
some cushion inside. The Heels like an uptempo game, even if it meant
finishing next to last in points allowed in the ACC last year. Their shot
selection was not always the best either, finishing 6th in the league in
field goal percentage. Still, they forced a ton of turnovers, took care of
the ball and were accurate from the three point line. The biggest question
for them will be: who is the leader of this team? If they can successfully
answer this question, they could have a big year.

1/23 Maryland 7:00PM
2/24 @ Maryland 7:00PM RSN

2002 Recap: 12-17, # 133 RPI

The Scoop: The Terps were one of the most disappointing teams in the
country last year. They badly underachieved after making it back to the
NCAA tournament in 2001 and brought back every significant player. Instead
of stepping up and challenging for a league crown or at least a first division
finish, every single player had worse numbers in 2002. Their only good
win of the year came against Clemson. Eleven of their 17 losses were by
double figures, and they didn't come close to beating any of the ACC's
ranked teams. It's really no surprise that long-time head coach Chris Weller
decided to retire at the end of the season, because she clearly couldn't
motivate the troops anymore, not to mention the fact that she lost six
players from the roster. Another problem was Maryland's style of play, an
ugly ball-control offense that put their fans to sleep and didn't seem
to thrill the players much either.

The good news for Terp fans is that new coach Brenda Frese is a genuine
miracle worker who transformed a moribund Minnesota program into a national
power. The bad news is that there's not much to work with here. The team's
two best players, Marche' Strickland and Dee Dee Warley, both ran out of
eligibility, while primary post players Rosita Melbourne and Jamecca
Harrell also moved on. Strickland scored 12.6 ppg while Warley averaged
12.1 as well as 6.6 rebounds. Neither Melbourne nor Harrell were great
players, combining for 10 points and 7 rebounds. But their absence means
that most of Maryland's size is extremely inexperienced.

The Terps have an experienced though not sensational backcourt returning.
They are led by Renneika Razor, a perennial All-Name candidate who averaged
8.2 ppg and 4.5 rpg and who is also Maryland's top defender. Also in the
backcourt is point Vicki Brick, a quick player who is a pest on defense
and averages 3.7 apg but whose last name quite accurately describes the
results of her jumper. That went for most of Maryland's team, though three
point specialist Terri Daniels managed to average 36% from three and score
4.6 ppg. Backing up Brick is talented Anesia Smith, one of Maryland's few
pleasant surprises last year. She scored 5.3 ppg last year on a team that
needed all the points it could get. The only frontcourt returnee is 6-2
Crystal Washington, who mustered only 6.1 ppg and 2 rpg.

Frese has five players coming in, the best of whom is 6-2 PF Charmaine
Carr, a top 100 player who will likely start right away. Frese also
managed to snag a late recruit, 6-3 JuCo center Delvona Oliver. That could
turn out to be a great move, because if there's one area where Maryland
really needs help, it's on the boards. They were the worst rebounding
team in the ACC last year, getting outrebounded by 6 a game in league play.
If Carr and Oliver do nothing more than reverse this trend, the Terps will
be a better team. Razor is genuinely talented, though it should be noted
that no returning player has averaged in double figures in their career.
I expect Razor to do that this year, but it remains to be seen where the
rest of the offense will come from. Carr and Oliver could again really
help the team's cause by making the Terps threats to score inside. Overall,
Frese is probably a year or two away from producing a real contender,
though it will be interesting to watch if she can revitalize this once-great

1/26 Florida State 1:00PM
2/27 @ Florida State 7:00PM

2002 Recap: 13-15, # 99 RPI

The Scoop: FSU was another disappointing team in 2002. While they did
lose all-time great Brooke Wyckoff, they had plenty of returning and new
talent coming in and should have been able to compensate. They even
started the season well, winning 8 of their first 9 and 10 of their first
12 games. That included victories over solid clubs like St Joseph's,
St Mary's, and Indiana. Players like guard Shinikki Whiting and forward
Tasheika Morris put up dominant numbers. They even started the ACC season
on an up note by beating Georgia Tech. Then January came, and the team
simply fell apart. They lost 9 of 10 games, not breaking the string until
February 7th. After winning 2 in a row, they went on to lose their last
4. What on earth happened?

The short answer is: they couldn't play defense, didn't take care of the
ball, and were just average in every other category. The team had a few
good players, but no stars. The highly-touted frosh class simply bombed
in their first year. The team had a lot of tweeners, little leadership,
and a lack of a regular scoring presence inside. The good news is that
the program only lost one significant player in April Traylor and is bringing
in another highly-touted group. Traylor was one of those tweeners, who
was overmatched at point guard but whose shooting was never quite good
enough to make her effective at two. Combine that with the fact that FSU
didn't have many viable options at point last year made her job even more
difficult. She did average 13 ppg, 3.6 rpg and 2.8 apg, but shot only 30%
from three. FSU also lost Lakesha Springle, who spent a lot of time as
the team's point but only averaged 1.4 apg.

The team has a lot of talent coming back, especially at the offensive
end. Morris, a transfer from Tennessee, proved her worth by averaging
13.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg and shot 40% from three. Whiting, a slashing guard
with great quickness, averaged 11 ppg and 5.1 rpg and was the team's all-
around best player. FSU will depend on her for leadership this year as
well. The frontcourt has a trio of veterans who have been solid but
unspectacular in their careers. Katelyn Vujas is the best of the bunch,
getting 7.5 ppg and 4.2 rpg. Lauren Bradley has always shown tremendous
potential but played last year coming off an injury and got just 5.1 ppg
and 2.7 rpg. Trinetta Moore was a JuCo and brought in for her experience,
but only posted 3.9 & 3.3 per game.

The now-sophs are the team's biggest question marks. Genesis Choice,
in addition to her All-Name prestige, was expected to step in and star at
forward. It didn't happen, as she averaged just 4.2 and 2.8--and this made
her one of the best frosh! LaQuinta Neely spent some time at point and could
only muster 2.2 ppg and 1.8 apg. The best of the bunch was Linnea
Liljestrand, scoring 6 ppg. That group will be pushed right away by the
new frosh class, led by likely point starter Holly Johnson, a top 100 player.
Challenging for two-guard minutes is top 40 player Ganiyat Adeduntan, at an
imposing 6-1. Top 40 player Hannah Lindquist will challenge for a starting
position at center; at 6-4, she's the tallest player in the program.

There is no reason why this team shouldn't be better. They have talent,
experience and a good coach. They need to cultivate better outside shooting
and everyone must play better defense, because they don't have the firepower
to simply outscore the better teams in the league. Frankly, they just
didn't seem to care much about defense last year, which was odd because
this was such a fired-up team in 2001. Perhaps they thought that an NCAA
appearance meant that they had arrived and could now stop working hard;
if so, then 2002 certainly disabused them of that notion. This is a crucial
year for coach Sue Semrau, who is slowly stockpiling some remarkable talent.
Another bad year could derail her recruiting efforts.

1/29 @ NC State 7:00PM
3/2 NC State 5:30PM FSN

2002 Recap: 14-15, # 62 RPI
2003 Preseason Ranking: # 42

The Scoop: Along with UNC and Virginia, State poses the biggest threat to
Duke's ACC supremacy. And unlike both of those teams, the Wolfpack lost
very little from their luckless 2002 team and get a good bit of potential
help. Aside from Duke, no ACC team had more significant losses in personnel
after the season began. First, point guard Terah James suffered her second
consecutive season-ending injury. That position would prove to be a major
weakness throughout the season; they didn't have a Tynesha Lewis who could
adjust and take it over. Second, defensive leader Ivy Gardner and backup
point Daphne Hutcherson both left the program simultaneously. Gardner's
absence was immediately felt as the Pack went into a December tailspin
after winning their first six games from which they never recovered.

With Gardner, they beat top 20 teams George Washington & Old Dominion
while also scoring victories over decent squads like Drake & Indiana. After
Gardner went out, the toughness of State's schedule (by far the most
difficult in the ACC) started to catch up with them, as they were brutalized
by Tennessee and Wisconsin, and lost a close one to Georgia--top 25 teams
all. Then they went to Cancun for a tournament and were easily handled by
Mississippi State and Pitt. The Pack recovered to win 3 of their first
4 ACC games (including a big win against UNC), but dropped a close game
against Duke. That started a tailspin where they lost 6 of their next 8
games, including an embarrassing loss to Florida State. With their earlier
losses, they were struggling to get to .500, but that ended after they upset
Clemson and were then nipped by UNC in the ACC Tournament semifinals. Seven
of their losses were by margins of under 10 points, which could have meant
an NCAA berth for a team with such a rigorous schedule.

The only significant player loss after the season was Talisha Scates,
a solid utility player who averaged 6.6 ppg and 5 rpg. State returns perhaps
the best frontcourt in the league with 6-3 center Kaayla Chones, who returned
from an injury year with 12.3 ppg and 7 rpg; and Carisse Moody, a 6-1 forward
whose numbers were a little down in 2002 but who still put up 11 ppg and 4.8
rpg. Moody also had some injuries to deal with, something that also led
to a few Pack defeats. Needing to step up her production with Scates gone
is aggressive and athletic Adeola Olanrewaju, who put up 4 and 4 last year.
At guard is the solid but not spectacular Amy Simpson, a senior who put
up 7.7 & 3.2 last year but is not a great outside shooter. The Pack rest
some of those hopes on soph Rachel Stockdale, a decent outside threat and
solid all-around player who scored 7.4 a game last year. Also looking
to get some time at off guard are three point specialist Amelia Labador
(41% from long range) and Liz Bailey (3 ppg). One of State's big problems
last year was a lack of a consistent perimeter game; they were one of the
worst three point shooting teams in the league, which meant that zones were
frequently quite effective against them. The Pack brought in two top 100
guards to remedy the situation: Jennifer Filipowski, a 6-2 wing; and
Billie McDowell, a 5-9 two-guard. Both will definitely get their chances
to contribute.

The Pack's biggest weakness was at point guard. They were the worst in
the league in turnover margin and assist/turnover ratio. This meant that
their post players had trouble getting the ball, limiting their scoring.
If James comes back and is healthy, that will make this team much better
right away. If not, the Pack will be in some trouble. Nanna Rivers started
at point for most of 2002 and the results were not spectacular--5 ppg and
4 apg. Not awful numbers, but on a team that lacked other playmakers, she
needed to do much more. Another possibility is Kendra Bell, an exciting
soph who averaged 2.2 apg in limited playing time. She's athletic and
can even shoot a bit.

The Pack has as much depth and experience as anyone in the league, but
lack star power outside of their frontcourt tandem. To truly contend for
the league crown, they need at least one of their guards to step up and
score in double figures on a consistent basis. If the other players just
perform at their usual reliable levels, that one star could make this team a
great one. As it is, their frontcourt power will overwhelm a lot of ACC
teams and will be an immense challenge for Duke.

2/1 Connecticut 7:00PM ESPN2

2002 Recap: 39-0 (NCAA Champions), # 2 RPI, # 1 Final Poll
2003 Preseason Ranking: # 6

The Scoop: It's not hyperbole to pronounce this one of the most-
anticipated matchups of the entire college basketball season. Yes,
UConn will be without its magnificent senior class, but since this
game is being played late in the season, both teams should have gelled
quite nicely. UConn's impressive frosh class will understand their roles
by that time, while Duke should be able to sort out a permanent starting

There's not much to be said about last year's UConn squad that hasn't
already been written. 39-0 speaks for itself, and history will determine
their place in the ranks of the all-time greatest teams. All I knew is
that when people asked me if there was a chance that they could lose, I
shook my head and said "no." They outscored their opponents by an
averaged of 36 ppg and outrebounded them by 15 a game. As a team, they
shot an obscene 52% and 41% from the three point line. Their frontline
was one of the greatest in college basketball history, and they went on
to great success in the NBA. The point guard, Sue Bird, won every national
player of the year award and then was named first team All-WNBA. Of course,
the downside to all this is that UConn loses 53 ppg and 26 rpg. The
Huskies will have to break in four new starters. UConn's schedule reflects
the downgrade in experience; last year, they beat 9 top 25 schools in the
regular season; things have been greatly scaled down this year.

So who's coming back for the Huskies? First and foremost is Alana Beard's
ex-teammate on the World Championship teams, Diana Taurasi. Taurasi is a
superior shooter (44% from three) and all around offensive superstar. With
all of the experienced talent on last year's squad, she still scored 14.5
ppg and grabbed 4.1 rpg. More amazing were her 46 blocked shots--at 6-0,
her height gave her an advantage over many other guards. Taurasi was an
important part of UConn's offense as its deadliest perimeter player,
balancing out their dominant inside game. It will be interesting to see
how she adjusts to being targeted by every team as UConn's top threat. Taurasi
can pass as well, getting nearly 5 assists a game. Her only real weakness
is as a defensive stopper, and it remains to be seen who will take over that
role for UConn. The Beard vs Taurasi subplot in this game will be fascinating
to watch, especially with Taurasi's nearly unlimited range. But she can
break down defenses one-on-one as well, which I expect to see more of this

A program like UConn always will have a number of former high school
All-Americans sitting on the bench, waiting for their turn. While there
are no seniors on this team, there are 2 other juniors and 4 sophomores.
Most likely to start at center is 6-3 Jessica Moore. She started 3 games
last year and played 18 minutes a game, scoring 5 ppg and grabbing 3.9 rpg.
She's known for her shotblocking and ability to score in the post. Another
likely starter is forward Ashley Battle, a top prospect a couple of years
ago. She played 17 minutes per game last year and put up numbers similar
to Moore, though she played on the perimeter more often. Likely contributors
off the bench include guards Maria Conlon and Morgan Valley, who both
averaged around 4 ppg last year.

I have yet to mention UConn's big-time recruiting class, ranked second only
to Duke's by most experts. I'm guessing that two of its four members will
start, though it could be even more depending on how the season goes. I
saw all four play in the two televised high school All-Star games, and each
player had their moments. While she wasn't the highest ranked member of the
class, I thought that forward Barbara Turner looked the most impressive. She
played bigger than her height (6-0), aggressively going after rebounds and just
generally pounding away inside. She looked like she was quite comfortable
with contact and adjusted quite quickly to the speed of the game. Turner
was ranked in the top 10 by most experts. Less impressive was top 20 power
forward Willnett Crockett, who looked out of synch for much of both games.
UConn will really need her to play well this year, given their lack of size
overall (Moore is the team's tallest player at 6-2). Then there's 6-2
guard Ann Strother, considered by some to be the #1 player in her class.
There's no question that her skills are remarkable and that she can score
from anywhere, but her frame makes Iciss Tillis' look like that of an
Olympic bodybuilder. Rounding out the group is 5-11 guard Nicole Wolff,
a top 15 sharpshooter who also looked a step slower than some of the athletes
out there. In UConn's system, I imagine she will thrive given time to
get her shot off. There was supposed to be a fifth member of the class,
6-7 Gillian Goring, but she did not qualify academically, and there is a great
deal of uncertainty surrounding her future.

This UConn team will rely on depth, speed and shooting. By the time the
game rolls around, they should have a reliable set of frontcourt starters,
and I imagine at least a couple of their frosh will be stars. Still,
this team will be very young--younger than Duke, which has been an unusual
thing to say the past couple of years. The Devils will have an advantage
inside and match up well at pretty much every position, and by then should
have developed some depth. I actually think that Arkansas and Tennessee
will be tougher matchups for Duke, but the hype surrounding this game
and the chance to sell-out Cameron still make it special. Duke must limit
Taurasi's touches and control the boards; if they can do both, then they
will win.