Sportsman of the Year
Life of Reilly
SI for Kids
SI Customer Service
SI Media Kits
Get into College
West Region Preview
Posted: Thursday November 08, 2001 9:53 AM
Updated: Thursday November 08, 2001 11:47 AM
By Ron Chimelis, Special to CNNSI.com
|Teams That Will Make The NCAA Tournament|
|Arizona (Pac 10)
||Arizona State (Pac 10)
|Colorado State (Mountain West)
||Louisiana Tech (WAC)
|Montana (Big Sky)
||Southern California (Pac 10)
|Stanford (Pac 10)
||St. Mary's (West Coast)
|UC Santa Barbara (Big West)
||UNLV (Mountain West)
|Utah (Mountain West)
||Washington (Pac 10)
| On the road with Louisiana Tech
The WAC will be more challenging than the Sun Belt, and the frequent flyer mileage will zoom. But a strong backcourt is part of the package that will keep this perennial power among the national elite.
Can Washington keep it up?
On the surface, June Daugherty's team is hurtin' with the loss of six seniors, including two-time leading scorer Megan Franza. But a quick team with perimeter shooting and a good freshman class should have the Huskies -- who went from 8-22 in 2000 to last year's Final Eight -- up and running again.
The Pac-10 adds a tournament
The last holdout among the power conferences to stage a postseason league tourney, the Pac-10 will hold its first in Eugene, Ore. Whether it helps or hurts NCAA qualifiers, or allows a sleeper team to grab an NCAA spot, remains to be seen.
|Teams On The Rise|
| Colorado State
Four starters are back from last year's Mountain West tournament champions. This year, for the first time ever, the Rams were the league's preseason favorite to win it all.
Last year's 10-19 record will go up with the help of four returning starters, including preseason All-WAC picks Lindsay Logan and Omelogo Udeze.
St. Mary's (Calif)
The Gaels are showing up in the national rankings after a 26-6 season and a good showing in an NCAA tournament loss to Tennessee. With twins Misha and Kisha Dosty back among several returnees, St. Mary's moves from nice Cinderella story to respected national team.
The Rainbows were 26-8 last year, but their three top scorers (Crystal Lee, Kylie Galloway and Dainora Puida) are no longer around.
Unbeaten in conference play and a Sweet 16 team a year ago, the Utes will be good again, but maybe not that good. A lot of last year's offense has graduated, but Utah's traditionally tough defense will ease the transition.
The Ducks were an NCAA tournament team last year, but former Canadian national coach Bev Smith replaces Jody Runge, whose caustic approach alienated the players. Plus, 57 percent of last year's scoring is gone.
|Five Familiar Faces To Watch|
| Linda Frohlich, UNLV, F
She averaged 19.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, and hit 41 percent of her 3-pointers. A big-time player, no question.
Michelle Greco, UCLA, G
This senior is probably the best upperclassman in the Pacific 10.
Ayana Walker, Louisiana Tech, F
A member of 2001 USA Basketball, she is equally dominant at each end of the court.
Nicole Powell, Stanford, F
This sophomore averaged 8.5 rebounds per game last year, even while spending time in the backcourt, and will do even better with point guard Susan King back from injury.
Felicia Ragland, Oregon State, G
This senior was last year's Pac-10 player of the year and is an All-American candidate.
|Five New Faces To Watch|
| Edniesha Curry, Oregon, G
A fleet, flashy point guard, she comes after a transfer from Cal-Northridge.
Sabnem Kimyacioglu, Stanford, G
A Nike All-American, she can score or pass and already has an advanced knowledge of the game.
Amber Stimac, Nevada, G
Probably Arizona's top prep player a year ago, she led Chaparral High to a 33-1 record and the state title.
T'Nae Thiel, Stanford, F
A strong post player, she is also a gifted passer who comes to the Cardinal as Texas' player of the year and a consensus All-America.
Chassie Wiersma, Wyoming, G
Not really new, but the transfer has new surroundings after starting 50 games in two years at Oregon State.
|Coach To Watch|
| Tara VanDerveer, Stanford
With 516 career coaching wins, including 364 in 15 years at Stanford, she decided she liked what she's doing and signed on for five more. She also knows the Cardinal are returning to the NCAA elite and have a shot at the Final Four.
| Colorado State
The Rams return four starters, a good thing with home games against NCAA champion Notre Dame and Colorado coming up, as well as a Women's Sports Foundation tournament appearance with Xavier, Louisville and Ohio State.
|Toughest Place To Play|
| Ruston, La.
It's a long way to go for some of the WAC teams that figure to get whacked by new member Louisiana Tech.
|Things You Didn't Know|
|The power of the Pacific 10 is strengthened by players returning from ACL injuries. Oregon State's Shaquala Williams, the 2000 Pac-10 player of the year, returns after missing last year with knee problems. Stanford point guard Susan King, another ACL victim, is also healthy again.
|Mark Your Calendar|
| Tennessee at Stanford, Dec. 16
The Cardinal is ready this year. Always a great matchup.
Oregon State State at Oregon, Jan. 19
The teams meet again at OSU Feb. 16. Not only is the natural rivalry there, there are featured performers in Shaquala Williams (OSU) and Felicia Raglund (Oregon).
Arizona State at Arizona, Feb. 23
Another natural rivalry, this one with NCAA tournament ramifications.
Chimelis covers college basketball for the Springfield (Mass.) Union-News.