November 12, 2008
Team Conference Returning starters Skinny
21. Baylor Big 12 6 Senior pivot Rachel Allison, first team all-conference last year, leads a veteran squad that adds promising transfer sophomore Whitney Zachariason (late of Arkansas) on Dec. 20.
22. Auburn SEC 4 Senior forward DeWanna Bonner, catalyst of one of the league's faster paced offenses, will try to make it three straight consecutive 20-win seasons for the Tigers.
23. Georgia SEC 9 Juniors Ashley Houts (11.7 ppg) and Angel Robinson (9.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg) are the frontrunners to replace 2,000-point scorer Tasha Humphrey (of the WNBA's Mystics) as the Bulldogs' go-to player.
24. LSU SEC 4 The departure of Big Syl is a sizeable loss for Tigers. They won't make their sixth straight Final Four appearance this year, but their incoming class -- rated the nation's third-best -- could soon be starting a streak of its own.
25. Iowa State Big 12 7 With seniors Nicky Wieben and Toccara Ross back from ACL tears, the Cyclones figure to improve on last year's second-round showing in the NCAAs.
26. Purdue Big Ten 7 Upperclassmen Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton (knee) and Jodi Howell (shoulder) return from medical redshirt to reestablish the Boilers inside-outside game.
27. Florida State ACC 9 A first-round NCAA tournament upset of Ohio State has a senior-laden team, led by guards Mara Freshour and Tanae Davis-Cain, raising expectations in Tallahassee.
28. Marquette Big East 8 A WNIT championship in '08 has the Golden Eagles thinking even bigger in '09. Senior guard Krystal Ellis (19.4 ppg) will have to come up huge.
29. Marist MAAC 9 Marist will count on its experience, particularly in the postseason, where its last two runs were ended by SEC stalwarts Tennessee and LSU.
30. Kansas State Big 12 8 The Wildcats won 13 of their last 16 on the way their first ever outright conference crown and their first NCAA tournament win in three years. With all-conference guard Kimberly Dietz gone, it'll be up to seniors Marlies Gipson and Shalee Lehning to keep the momentum going. td>
31. Iowa Big Ten 8 The senior leadership of co-captains Kristi Smith and Wendy Ausdemore will be key for scoring (the Hawkeyes' 65.7 ppg was fifth-best in the conference) and for sustaining last year's 11-2 stretch run to make the tournament.
32. Nebraska Big 12 12 After achieving their first tournament berth in nine seasons in a rebuilding year, the Huskers figure to make an even deeper run behind all-conference forward Kelsey Griffin, who averaged 16.8 ppg 8.2 rpgs in conference with a cracked rib.
33. Minnesota Big Ten 7 Senior guard Emily Fox, among the conference leaders in scoring (17.2 ppg), steals (2.89) and assists (4.50), is one of four returning starters from last year's 20-win squad.
34. Syracuse Big East 8 Last year the Orange posted the nation?s second-largest turnaround, going from nine wins in '06-07 to a school record 22 in '07-08. Senior forward Chandrea Jones, whose 15.1 ppg helped lead them into the tournament, shoulders the brunt of the scoring load again.
35. DePaul Big East 8 The Blue Demons lost five seniors (or 47 percent of its scoring) from last year's 20-12 outfit. But the return of two of their top three scorers -- junior Deirdre Naughton (15.1 ppg) and senior Natasha Williams (10.0 ppg) gives them a chance in a top-loaded conference.
36. Utah MWC 7 They've got wings -- senior Morgan Warburton and junior Kalee Whipple might be two of the nation's best -- but subsonic point guard Leilani Mitchell is gone. What's worse, junior Hennasea Tokumura, Mitchell's presumed replacement, is out with a knee injury.
37. UTEP C-USA 6 Interest in the conference champion Miners figures to go down with the departure of Claudia Porras, but not scoring. Conference Player of the Year Jareica Hughes (14.6 ppg) will continue to handle most of that.
38. Gonzaga WCC 10 Why are the Bulldogs the mid-major that nobody's talking about but everybody fears? Because they easily boast the conference's best troika in junior Heather Bowman (player of the year), sophomore Courtney Vandersloot (newcomer of the year) and senior Jami Schaefer (defensive player of the year).
39. Xavier A-10 11 Doubtless this placement will raise hackles, given the Musketeers debuted at No. 22 in the AP poll. But the loss of junior post Amber Harris (who blew out her left knee in an October practice and had to have surgery) and her 15.3 points and 8.9 rebounds per game figure to send the two-time defending conference champions into an early freefall.
40. Georgia Tech ACC 9 Sophomores Alex Montgomery (10.8 ppg) and Iasia Hemingway (8.5) are the Yellow Jackets' best chance of making a third-straight NCAA appearance.
41. Liberty Big South 8 Senior sisters Megan (18.6 ppg, 9.5 rpg), Moriah (13.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Molly Frazee (8.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg) stoke the conference champion Flames, who will try to make it 13 NCAA appearances in 14 seasons.
42. Michigan State Big Ten 9 The WNIT runner-up returns all five starters. That includes 6-9 junior forward Allyssa DeHann, who led the Spartans in scoring (14.4 ppg), rebounding (7.3) and set the single season conference record in blocks -- with 150!
43. Kansas Big 12 11 Like Gonzaga, nobody talking about them now. But another strong effort from junior Danielle McCray (14.9 ppg) and some stepping up from junior Sade Morris (9.8 ppg) could have the Jayhawks overachieving in the always tough Big 12.
44. Florida SEC 8 Gator great Amanda Butler ushered a mammoth turnaround, leading Florida from 9-22 record to 19-14 mark in just her second season as coach. What's more, 10 of those 19 wins were decided by six or fewer points. Junior guard Jennifer Mossor (8.3 ppg, 34.5 percent 3-point FG) trailed only departed forward Marshae Dotson in scoring last year. This year the Gators turn to Division II transfer Steffi Sorensen (late of national title runner-up Florida Gulf Coast) to help pick up some of the slack; she averaged 14.5 ppg and 5.2 rpg for the Eagles as a freshman.
45. New Mexico MWC 10 Los Lobos lost a lot of scoring from last year's defending conference tournament champion outfit, but they're confident junior guard Amy Beggin (10.9 ppg, 4.2 apg) will start bringing it.
46. Bowling Green MAC 9 Sophomore guard Lauren Prochaska (14.8 ppg), senior guard Lindsay Goldsberry (41.7 percent from 3-point range), and junior pivot Tara Breske -- who touts a low-post game (10.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg) as well-defined as her muscular upper body (her BG bio pics, I'm told, don't do her guns justice) -- supply the Falcons with more than enough firepower to claim a fifth straight conference championship.
47. Murray State OVC 9 Longtime assistant coach Rob Cross takes over from Jody Adams, who left the Racers days after their first-round NCAA loss to ninth-ranked Duke. He inherits a roster that's short in experience -- seniors Amber Guffey and Ashley Hayes are conference standouts -- but deep on the bench.
48. Holy Cross Patriot League 10 If junior guard Briana McFadden (13.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg) leads the Crusaders to another conference title, odds are good she'll repeat as conference player of the year.
49. Boston College ACC 9 Sophomores Stefanie Murphy (14.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Carolyn Swords (13.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg) are the pillars of an Eagles restructuring, engineered by first-year coach Sylvia Crawley.
50. Prairie View SWAC 4 Don't look now, but third-year Panthers coach Cynthia Cooper-Dykes has quietly cornered the market on 6-footers -- and seemingly with considerable strain on the modest public school's recruiting budget. Of the five on her roster, two are products of the former French Union: 6-5 senior pivot Aminata Dieye, hails from Dakar, Senegal..

You May Like