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South Region Preview
Posted: Thursday November 08, 2001 9:56 AM
Updated: Thursday November 08, 2001 9:56 AM
By Ron Chimelis, Special to CNNSI.com
|Teams That Will Make The NCAA Tournament|
||Campbell (Atlantic Sun)
||Florida International (Sun Belt)
|Louisiana State (SEC)
|Mississippi State (SEC)
||North Carolina (ACC)
|North Carolina State (ACC)
||Old Dominion (CAA)
||Florida State (ACC)
|Liberty (Big South)
|Stephen F. Austin (Southland)
|Tennessee Tech (Ohio Valley)
| Is it Tennessee or Vanderbilt?
The Lady Vols finished on a surprisingly flat note last year, having their hands full with St. Mary's and losing by 15 to Xavier in the NCAAs. Both teams have been ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation (behind UConn) in some polls, so an SEC dogfight looms.
Old Dominion could reclaim its dominion
In a modern age of huge state universities, the Lady Monarchs (and Louisiana Tech) are refreshing powers. ODU starts off with Lucienne Berthieu, one of America's premier scorers and rebounders, who missed last year with a torn ACL. Without her, there was a first-round NCAA loss and even one, unheard-of conference defeat, but a center resurgence is due.
Three A's in the ACC
Duke, North Carolina State and Maryland all have a shot to win the conference title. Whoever shoots best from the outside could wind up on top.
|Teams On The Rise|
| Mississippi State
With 6-2 LaToya Thomas leading the way, the Bulldogs will definitely improve on last year's 4-10 SEC mark and 17-14 overall record, and could make the NCAAs.
North Carolina State
Injuries to center Kaayla Chones and point guard Terah James limited this team to a still-not-bad 22-11 season. Chones is back, but James hurt her knee in preseason. Assuming she comes back, the Wolfpack could be a Top 10 team.
Injury-plagued Candice Story is around for a rare sixth NCAA season. It will be worth the wait as Chantelle Anderson, Zuzi Klimesova and Jillian Danker lead Vandy (24-10, 8-6 last year) to a shot at the Final Four.
When a coach averages 24.8 wins in 22 years, as Andy Landers has, expectations are always high. He lost Kelly and Coco Miller, as well as Deanna Nolan -- three of the WNBA's top nine draft picks. Seniors Tawana McDonald and Camille Murphy are back, and even with the losses, this team will likely finish Top 25.
Three starters are gone, and the Cavaliers are smaller. A team that has reached 18 straight NCAA tournaments, and went 18-14 last year, will rely on a backcourt of Telisha Quarles and Anna Prillaman.
Last year's 3-13 ACC record behind them, the Demon Deacons are more skilled and athletic, can score in transition and expect a bounce-back year from senior center LaChina Robinson. It's a battle, but there's hope.
|Five Familiar Faces To Watch|
| Chantelle Anderson, Vanderbilt, C
A 6-6 junior, she shot 72 percent from the floor last year, averaging 21.2 points amd earning preseason SEC player of the year honors.
Alana Beard, Duke, G-F
Only a sophomore but already one of the nation's best, she scored more than 500 points and has more than 100 steals.
Michelle Snow, Tennessee, C
Kara Lawson may be the Lady Vols' best player, but it's hard not to like the 6-5 Snow, who dunked twice last year. She has to concentrate on defense and rebounding to be great.
Nikki Teasley, North Carolina, G
After taking last year off, she will miss the opener for an NCAA violation. But she's only seven assists from the Tar Heels' all-time mark, and seems set to go.
LaToya Thomas, Mississippi State, F
The 6-2 junior reached 1,000 points in only 46 games. She's led the SEC in scoring twice, including 24.3 ppg. last year.
|Five New Faces To Watch|
| Shyra Ely, Tennessee, F
A 6-2 Indianapolis product, this athletic freshman already runs the floor as well as anyone on the Lady Vols, and needs only to expand her shooting range.
Ashley Earley, Vanderbilt, G-F
This 5-11 freshman scored more than 2,700 points as a high school star in Memphis.
Ebony Felder, Georgia, F
A redshirt freshman who was a top-10 prospect two years ago, she appears back from a shoulder injury. She can play anywhere on the front line, and can also shoot or pass from 15 feet out.
Michelle Munoz, Tennessee, F
The two-time Ohio prep player of the year is the daughter of NFL Hall of Fame lineman Anthony Munoz. She'll play power forward, but has 3-point range.
Tia Battle, Vanderbilt, G-F
A two-time Women's Basketball Coaches Association underclassman of the year, this 6-footer was a Nike All-American in Minnesota.
|Coach To Watch|
| Chris Weller, Maryland
With nearly 500 career wins and all 11 players back from a 17-12 team, she could find herself and her team in the ACC spotlight this year.
Between Nov. 24 and Dec. 18, they'll face Rutgers, Howard, Virginia Tech, UC Santa Barbara, Duke and Ohio State. Sure, most at home, but all of those teams made postseason play in 2001 -- and then Virginia's young team faces the ACC schedule.
|Toughest Place To Play|
| Thompson Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn.
Just the sound of the name has a special place in women's basketball.
|Things You Didn't Know|
|North Carolina State coach Kay Yow was nominated for the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. in 2001. She wasn't elected in a year in which only 3 of 17 nominees (and now women) were. Coaches can be nominated again, however, and Yow is expected as a future contender for her collegiate and international work
Kentucky had a 5-0 tour of France in May
Georgia coach Andy Landers is coaching his fourth set of twins in 26 years, as Kara and Kim Braxton come by way of Portland, Ore.
|Mark Your Calendar|
| Louisiana Tech at Duke, Dec. 2.
The Disney Honda Elite Classic gives two of America's top teams an early progress report.
Duke at North Carolina State, Jan. 13.
The teams meet again at Durham on Feb. 18, and the ACC title may be riding on the outcomes.
Tennessee at Vanderbilt, Feb. 2.
The SEC powers meet again Feb. 16 at Tennessee. Just a guess, but a split looks likely.
Ron Chimelis covers college basketball for the Springfield (Mass.) Union-News.