Pacific-10 Conference at a glance
Here’s a look at the Pac-10 women’s basketball teams, listed in their predicted order of finish:
The other Pac-10 coaches either fear the Cardinal or they are just united in putting some early pressure on Tara VanDerveer’s team. Stanford got all nine possible first-place votes in the coaches’ annual preseason poll, and for good reason if you look at the roster.
The Cardinal lost only one starter to graduation – former Snohomish High School standout Milena Flores – and brings back eight letter winners from last season’s 21-9 team that finished second in the league. Point guard Jamie Carey, the league’s freshman of the year last season, made a school record (and league freshman record) 81 shots from 3-point range. She’ll team with junior shooting specialist Lauren St. Clair to give Stanford a dangerous tandem on the perimeter. Stanford is anchored inside by 6-6 senior center Carolyn Moos, who averaged 12.4 points and 5.5 rebounds last season.
VanDerveer (498-143) is nearing career win 500 in her college coaching career.
The Ducks must overcome injuries to two of their floor leaders if they’re to contend for a third straight conference title. Junior guard Shaquala Williams, last season’s Pac-10 player of the year, tore a knee ligament and will miss 5-8 months. Senior guard Lindsey Dion tore cartilage in her right knee and will miss several weeks.
Still, the Ducks’ strength will be inside, with seniors Brianne Meharry (10.3 points, 5.7 rebounds), Jenny Mowe (5.7 points, 5.7 rebounds) and Angelina Wolvert (11.8 points, 6.0 rebounds). Wolvert was an all-conference player last season who led the team in scoring and rebounding.
Oregon also uses its home edge to the fullest, with Mac Court drawing a conference-high 5,852 fans per game last season.
Coach Chris Gobrecht’s team could make plenty of noise in the league, as a spoiler if not as a contender. The Women of Troy went 7-2 down the stretch last season, including victories over Oregon, Arizona and UCLA. Junior guard Tiffany Elmore (10.6 points) was an all-conference honorable mention selection last season, and she’ll be joined by returning seniors Tashara Carter (10.0 points), Denise Woods (7.0 points on 46 percent shooting) and Ayeshia Smith (4.7 points).
Gobrecht had one of the nation’s top recruiting classes, with 6-2 forward Ebony Hoffman and shooting guard Aisha Hollins, both among the country’s top prospects, expected to make an impact this season.
Four starters, 10 letter winners and the return to their renovated home court give the Huskies every reason to believe they can take a huge step forward this season. Senior guard Megan Franza (17.2 points) was an all-conference player last year and senior forward LeAnn Sheets (8.3 points, 6.8 rebounds) is the league’s top returning rebounder.
The Huskies were crippled by injuries throughout the roster last season. Already, they must overcome the loss of sophomore guard Loree Payne (17.4 points), who suffered a stress fracture in her left foot and won’t return until January.
The Wildcats return two starters – senior guard Reshea Bristol (8.6 points, all-conference honorable mention), junior forward Elizabeth Pickney (9.8 points, 4.5 rebounds) – off a team that won 25 games and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to eventual runnerup Tennessee. Sophomore guard Krista Warren, an all-freshman player last season, is expected to miss the first month of the season because of wrist surgery.
Arizona expects immediate help from freshman forward Veranda James, a two-time all-California prep pick.
The Bruins could be an early mystery but have the potential to be a solid team when the conference season begins. Their leading scorer from last season, sophomore guard Nicole Kaczmarksi (11.7 points), skipped the fall quarter for personal reasons and is expected to rejoin the team in mid-December. Returning will be junior guard Michelle Greco and senior guard LaCresha Flannigan (6.7 points), an all-conference player two seasons ago who was hampered by injuries last season.
UCLA added three junior college players – forwards Shalada Allen, Stacy Robertson and Malika Leatham – who are expected to see considerable playing time immediately.
Like Washington, Cal returns 10 letter winners and is dominated by seven seniors. Starters will include senior guard Courtney Johnson (11.7 points, 3.1 assists, all-conference honorable mention), senior forward Lauren Ashbaugh (8.5 points, 6.1 rebounds) and senior guard Kenya Corley (10.5 points). Ashbaugh anchors a front line that averaged 39.1 rebounds per game last season, third in the league.
Caren Horstmeyer begins her first season at Cal after she posted a 221-124 record in 12 seasons at Santa Clara and led her teams to six West Coast Conference titles and four NCAA Tournament berths.
Coach Jenny Prezekwas begins her third season with three returning starters – senior point guard Katie Nyseth (3.8 points, 3.9 assists), senior Victoria Harrod (6.6 points, 3.6 rebounds) and senior forward Yvonne Volkman (9.4 points, 4.6 rebounds. Harrod and Nyseth made the league’s all-academic team, and Harrod’s .905 shooting from the free throw line was the best in the Pac-10. Sophomore center Kelly Bergllund (4.9 points, 4.0 rebounds) also is expected to move into the starting lineup.
The Sun Devils return two starters, senior guard Natalie Tucker (7.0 points) and sophomore guard Sarah Allen (all-freshman pick last season), and should be bolstered by the addition of junior guard Amanda Levens, who played on two NCAA Sweet 16 teams at Old Dominion before transferring to ASU and sitting out a year. ASU returns eight letter winners off a team that won 14 games and earned a berth in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, the program’s first postseason appearance since 1992.
The Beavers hope to build on their late surge last season, when they won 10 of their final 16 games. OSU returns all-conference guard Felicia Ragland (12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 86 assists), junior center Erika Cook and sophomore center Kristina Rukstelyte.
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