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Standing Pat
Kelli Anderson
April 16, 2007
With their stars returning, Coach Summitt's Lady Vols should repeat as national champs
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April 16, 2007

Standing Pat

With their stars returning, Coach Summitt's Lady Vols should repeat as national champs

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AFTER WINNING her seventh national title last week, Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt said, "There's a lot more parity in the game now." She should know. Summitt won her first six titles in a 12-year span, then didn't win another for nine years. The wait for eight, though, doesn't figure to be as long. Here's an early look at next year's top five:

1. Tennessee
Summitt relies on Candace Parker, an unusually versatile 6'4" sophomore who can play every position on the floor. But in beating Rutgers 59--46 in the NCAA title game in Cleveland on April 3, the Lady Vols showed that the player Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer calls "the best in the world" is only part of their picture. With Parker double- and triple-teamed, Tennessee got contributions from everyone, including Nicky Anosike (16 rebounds) and 5'2" junior point guard Shannon Bobbitt (four three-pointers). "It was a total team effort," says Summitt. And most of that team is coming back. The Lady Vols lose just one starter—6'3" forward Sidney Spencer—and next fall they welcome the nation's top recruiting class.

2. Rutgers
The Scarlet Knights can defend as well as any team in the country, but the potential for a high-octane offense, which they demonstrated with eight three-pointers in the first half of their Final Four win over LSU, is what makes them truly dangerous. Every player returns, including the 6'4" emerging post star Kia Vaughn.

3. Connecticut
In getting embarrassed by Sylvia Fowles and LSU in the Elite Eight, the young Huskies revealed that they were still a work in progress. But with every player back, including 6'4" freshman of the year Tina Charles, and national high school player of the year Maya Moore, a 6'1" shooting guard, joining the pack, the Huskies will be tougher to beat next season.

4. LSU
Fowles (left) and the other four starters from this year's Final Four squad all return, but no one is sure who'll be coaching them. Bob Starkey, the assistant who took over when Pokey Chatman resigned on March 7 amid allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a former player, has said he won't take the job.

5. Maryland
The Terrapins will have established talent (four starters from the 2006 championship team, including Crystal Langhorne, who led the nation by shooting 70.7% from the field last year), potential (a top five freshman class) and motivation (they were prematurely bounced from this year's tournament in the second round by Ole Miss).