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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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).