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UConn tops '08 contenders

Huskies the team to beat; Stanford, UNC will be back

Posted: Wednesday April 9, 2008 2:46PM; Updated: Wednesday April 9, 2008 2:46PM
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They've played the final game. Now, it's time to look forward to next year.

2008-'09 Top 10
Rank LW School
1 --
Conneticut Huskies
The Huskies lose four seniors to graduation, but they're in pretty good hands. From the moment she stepped on campus, freshman Maya Moore showed she's willing to do what it takes to put UConn on top. She ended up leading the Huskies in scoring with 17.8 points a game while earning Big East Player of the Year and All-America honors. Next season she looks to have an even better year. Scary.
2 --
Stanford Cardinal
Candice Wiggins has been the heart and soul of this team for four years. She was stellar throughout the NCAA tournament, scoring 151 points while leading the Cardinal to the title game. But Stanford showed throughout the season that it was more than Wiggins. Jayne Appel and Kayla Pederson give the Cardinal one of the best frontcourts in the country. The duo put up 81 points and 47 rebounds in the final three games of the tournament.
3 --
North Carolina Tar Heels
It's hard not to admire the way North Carolina's youngsters competed this season. The Tar Heels return freshman point guard Cetera DeGraffenreid, who did a great job of distributing the ball on a team that had five scorers averaging in double digits. Among those is leading scorer Rashanda McCants, whose brother, Rashad, played for the Tar Heels before moving on to the NBA. McCants led UNC with 15.8 points a game as a junior. "She's a great player -- unbelievable scorer, plays with reckless abandon," LSU coach Van Chancellor said before his team's matchup with UNC in the regional final.
4 --
The Scarlet Knights
The Scarlet Knights will lose a bit with Essence Carson and Matee Ajavon graduating. But they're bringing in enough All-Americas to fill a starting lineup. McDonald's MVPs Nikki Speed and Brooklyn Pope and the rest of the highly-touted rookies will join a roster that returns leading scorer Epiphanny Prince (13.8 ppg) and leading rebounder Kia Vaughn (9.3 rpg).
5 --
Duke Blue Devils
The Blue Devils lose just one starter. And with nearly everyone back, they're sure to be more comfortable in coach Joanne P. McCallie's system. You have to think that Abby Waner will come back stronger than ever after struggling on the offensive end for much of this season. If she does, the Blue Devils will have a pretty stout inside-outside attack that includes 6-5 center Chante Black. She became quite a force for Duke this season, leading the team with 14.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks a game.

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