So can MINNESOTA if Janel McCarville's left hand, broken during an Oct. 28 practice, heals quickly. "People think we lost everything when we lost [point guard] Lindsay Whalen, but we're going to be tougher than people think," says McCarville, one of the best low-post scorers in the country. With Whalen's dazzling offensive game gone, the Gophers will have to rely more on their defense, which will be quicker and more aggressive thanks to six newcomers and a much deeper bench.
Likewise, defense will be key for NOTRE DAME, just as it was last year when the Irish made it to the Sweet 16 despite scoring 64.2 points a game, the team's lowest average in 20 years. The Irish's lone double-figure scorer, 6'2" senior Jacqueline Batteast (16.0 points a game) must get some help from junior forward Courtney LaVere, whose average dropped by almost four points last year. But Batteast is prepared if she still attracts double teams. This summer she added 13 pounds of muscle. "Maybe now," she says, "people will be bouncing off me and falling to the floor rather than the other way around."
Like everyone else in the women's game, she can hope, can't she? --K.A.