2006-07 Pac-10 Women's Basketball Prospectus
Aug. 11, 2006
THE 2006-07 ARIZONA WILDCATS
The 2005-06 season was an extremely trying one for head coach Joan Bonvicini and company. Following the shocking and untimely death of Shawntinice Polk, the team had to deal not only with the devastation of her death, but a rash of injuries, as well. The Wildcats are ready for a fresh start and have the tools in place to begin the new year. UA, despite picking up just eight wins all season, notched a 64-57 upset win over Oregon in the State Farm Pac-10 Tournament to provide a lift heading into the 2006-07 season. The team returns all but two players from last year's squad, although replacing the athleticism of G Natalie Jones will be a difficult task. Jones finished her prolific career as just the seventh Wildcat ever to total 1,000 points and 500 rebounds on her career. Leading the way for the Wildcats is SR G Joy Hollingsworth, a 5-10 Seattle-product who can shoot the lights out, having finished third in the Conference last season in 3-point field goals made (2.23). Hollingsworth, one of only two players to start all 30 games last season, led the team with averages of 14.4 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. Also figuring into the mix in the Arizona backcourt is JR G Ashley Whisonant, who ranked eighth in the Conference in assists per game (3.40), SO G Kelsey Burns, a 3-point specialist who connected on almost 37 percent of her attempts (26-of-71), SO G Malia O'Neal and JR G Jessica Arnold. The Wildcats will be bolstered by the healthy returns of SR G Linda Pace (knee), JR F Ché Oh (concussion), SO F Amina Njonkou (foot) and JR F/C Shannon Hobson (back). One of the most interesting recruiting classes in the nation, Bonvicini signed two sets of twins, including junior college transfers 6-6 JR C Suzy Bofia and 6-7 JR C Beatrice Bofia, originally hailing from Yaoundé, Cameroon, Africa and 6-2 FR F Rheya Neabors and 6-2 FR F Rhaya Neabors. Also donning the Cardinal and Navy will be FR G Marie McGee. The incoming recruits give Bonvicini some much-needed height, especially in the paint, as the team finished in last place in rebounding margin (-6.4) and defensive rebounds (20.27) in 2005-06.
ACCORDING TO COACH JOAN BONVICINI - 'We're very excited to have a new season upon us. Last year was a year of learning and building. With the players we have returning, along with our recruits, we're looking forward to a prosperous season. We should be much improved, much taller, and we're very much looking forward to it.'
THE 2006-07 ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS
Arizona State has been one of the stronger teams in the Pac-10 as of late and this year should be no different. Head coach Charli Turner Thorne has her program on the steady rise, instilling a confidence and winning attitude in her deep Sun Devil team. As always, Turner Thorne will go all the way down her bench to find the right five for the floor at any given moment, but leading the way for ASU this season will be senior forwards Emily Westerberg, a two-time All-Pac-10 selection, and Aubree Johnson, the team's second-leading returning rebounder (4.5 rpg). SR G Jill Noe will also have high expectations as she is an experienced veteran in the Sun Devil program, having averaged 7.8 points per game in 2005-06. Expect big-time contributions from an athletic, talented group of sophomores, including guards Briann January, named to the All-Freshman Team last year, and Danielle Orsillo, an All-Freshman honorable mention selection. Having played in all 32 games last season 6-6 SO C Kirsten Thompson will be a force to reckon with in the paint, shooting over 50 percent from the floor (68-of-135). Speaking of solid shooting percentages, Arizona State must find a consistent replacement in the paint following the departure of the school's all-time field goal percentage leader, Kristen Kovesdy. Six new faces join the ASU ranks this year, but two will sit out due to transfer rules. Among Turner Thorne's signees includes arguably the top guard prospect in the nation, 5-5 Dymond Simon, a USA Basketball Development Festival gold medalist who led the team in scoring (16.2 ppg) in 2005.
ACCORDING TO COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE - 'I'm really excited about this year's team. We are going to have a different look and lineup which is going to be fun. We are going to be a smaller, athletic group and so I see us really opening up the floor. I think we have a lot of offensive weapons so I feel good about our ability to score. Hopefully we'll be a little stronger perimeter shooting team than we were last year.' ON SENIORS WESTERBERG AND JOHNSON - 'We have high expectations for Emily. She has had an outstanding career up to this point and is as motivated as ever for her senior year. Emily is working hard on improving her game. She is going to be more versatile and an even stronger defender. She is also very committed to providing us with outstanding leadership. Aubree is incredibly motivated to have an outstanding senior year and to lead, which is critical because we will go as far as our internal leadership takes up.'
THE 2006-07 CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of last season - California finished sixth in the Conference with an 18-12 overall record (10-8, Pac-10), earning its first NCAA Tournament bid in 13 years. Second-year head coach Joanne Boyle, spending the summer as an assistant coach for the U20 U.S. National Team, looks to build on last year's success with a young group that gained immeasurable experience over the course of one year. The Bears are led by a trio of sophomores, including Pac-10 Freshman of the Year G Alexis Gray-Lawson, C Devanei Hampton and F Ashley Walker. G Jené Morris is no longer with the team. All three were invited to the U20 Team Trials this summer, with All-Pac-10 honoree Hampton earning a coveted spot on the 12-person roster. Look for this year's team to rely heavily on its defense as the 2005-06 squad ranked in the Top-5 in the Conference in all of the following categories: scoring defense (second, 60.4), field goal percentage defense (third, .378), 3-point field goal percentage defense (fourth, .313) and rebounding defense (fourth, 36.5). The Bears graduated just one senior last season in F Reneé Wright, while G Sarah Pool decided not to return for her fifth season. The team returns 86 percent of its scoring production to rank second in the league, however, new leaders will need to step up as Wright ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in minutes played, averaging almost 36 per game. Also figuring into the mix are JR F Krista Foster, one of four players who played in all 30 games last season and SO F Shantrell Sneed, who saw action in 18 games as a reserve. Boyle's first recruiting class at Cal includes three incoming freshmen in 5-10 G Lauren Greif, 5-7 G Natasha Vital and 6-5 C Adji Ramatoulaye N'diaye out of Dekar, Senegal.
ACCORDING TO COACH JOANNE BOYLE - 'I don't think I had expectations about what we were supposed to do last season. In the end, when I look back, I'm so pleased with what they were able to accomplish. It wasn't so much the record but how we grew from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.' ON THE TEAM'S DEPTH - 'Depth has to help us if anything. There are kids coming in that are going to really fight for time. The upperclassmen (sophomores, juniors and seniors) that are returning are really in a good mindset in terms of fighting for what they want this summer. The door is open for a lot of them. They're going to embrace the freshmen, but they're going to make the freshmen earn their time. It will be more competitive.'
THE 2006-07 OREGON DUCKS
Defense is the name of this game: Last year's Oregon Duck squad set a Pac-10 record for fewest points allowed in a season (1,705), besting its previous mark of 1,726 set by the 1977 squad. However, head coach Bev Smith has made it clear that this year's team will place even more of an emphasis on defense. After finishing tied for second place in the Conference (12-6) with an NCAA Tournament berth in 2004-05, the Ducks are looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2005-06 season, which saw them fall below .500 for only the third time in the last 13 years. UO is led by the services of SR F Eleanor Haring, the team's second-leading returning scorer, who averaged 7.6 ppg during her junior campaign. Haring is joined by fellow seniors F/C Carolyn Ganes and G Cicely Oaks, who both saw action in 28 games, with a combined 13 starts. Ganes was named the Pac-10 Player of the Week on Dec. 19, 2005, after averaging 20.5 points and 7.6 rebounds to close out the non-conference portion of the season. Look for JR C Gabrielle Richards to have a standout season, as she paced the team in both points and rebounding last season, with marks of 10.3 and 6.7, respectively. Richards also collected six double-doubles on the season, tied for seventh-most in the league. A 2005-06 Pac-10 All-Freshman honorable mention, 5-8 SO G Tamika Nurse will shoulder more time at the point this season, making up for a backcourt that will look different without the likes of graduated seniors Brandi Davis, Kedzie Gunderson and Chelsea Wagner. New to the UO ranks: 5-8 G Micaela Cocks, 6-6 FR G Taylor Lilley and 6-2 RS FR F Mary Sbrissa.
ACCORDING TO COACH BEV SMITH - 'This year more than ever, a premium will be placed on team defense. Our guards will be ready to keep people in front of them; and our posts must battle with a warrior mentality to keep opponents out of the paint. We are excited about the team's understanding of our defensive system, and the pride they take in Duck defense. Our players' grit, determination, and defensive desire is a key to overcoming the obstacles placed in front of us by our opponents.' ON FREE THROW SHOOTING - 'Another point of emphasis for us is to get to the free throw line, where we led the Pac-10 in free throw shooting percentage last season. We will look to play aggressively in the half court, which will allow us to get to the free throw line and take advantage of one of our strengths.'
THE 2006-07 OREGON STATE BEAVERS
Under first-year head coach LaVonda Wagner, Oregon State nearly tripled its win total from the previous season, finishing at 16-15 overall (7-11, Pac-10) with a win in the State Farm Pac-10 Tournament and a berth into the WNIT. Having instilled a mentality to win in her players, Wagner has her team, albeit young, ready for another solid season, proving last year was no fluke. The Beavers have just two seniors on their roster, highlighted by 6-1 G Casey Nash, a bruiser on the boards who averaged 7.2 rebounds per game to rank seventh in the Conference. Joining Nash as part of the Class of 2007 is 5-8 G Ebony Young, who saw action in eight games last year, hitting on three of her six 3-point attempts. JR F Tiffany Ducker is a force to deal with in the paint - the 6-1 Stockton, Calif. native finished second in the Conference in blocked shots, swatting away an average of 1.58 per game. A 31-game starter, Ducker is also solid from the floor, banking in nearly 50 percent of her shots (87-of-177, .492). Oregon State is going to have to find answers for the loss of offensive production in three graduated seniors: C Kim Butler, who finished second in the Pac-10 in scoring (18.6 ppg), G Mandy Close, a renaissance woman who averaged 13.3 ppg and G Anita Rivera, a ninth-place finisher in 3-point field goals made (1.58). Joining the Beaver ranks this season is a slew of new faces. Six incoming freshmen and one transfer highlight Wagner's first recruiting class, including 6-1 FR G Stacey Nichols, who was who was the first Oregon Class 4A signee since 2000. Look for contributions from all of the following: JR TR G Ashley Allen, FR G Julie Futch, FR F Judie Lomax, FR G Christen Myles, FR G Jasmine Smith and FR F Whitney Champlin.
ACCORDING TO COACH LAVONDA WAGNER - 'We will be a young team and must find a way to be consistent. The goal for this next season is to get the returners to step up and the freshmen class to contribute right away. We want to build upon the improvements we made during the 05-06 campaign. The emphasis will continue to be on playing hard, playing smart and playing as a unit.'
THE 2006-07 STANFORD CARDINAL
Six-time defending Pac-10 Champion Stanford returns to the floor with high expectations for the 2006-07 season. Following its 26-8 season and near upset of No. 1 seed LSU in the Elite Eight of the 2006 NCAA Tournament, the Cardinal will surely contend for a seventh-consecutive Conference crown, with national title hopes in the forefront of the team's mind. JR G Candice Wiggins, the two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year, is ready to take her team to the next level, as two Final Four opportunities were just slightly out of her reach in her first two collegiate campaigns. Wiggins, with a Conference-leading 21.8 ppg average, is joined by SR C Brooke Smith, who finished second on the team (sixth in the league) in scoring (17.2 ppg). Look for SO G Rosalyn Gold-Onwude and SO F Jillian Harmon, who made immediate impacts as freshmen last season, to again play key roles under head coach Tara VanDerveer. Gold-Onwude can handle the ball and dish out the assists, finishing third in the league in assist-turnover ratio (1.60), while Harmon proved to be a solid shooter, ranking seventh in field goal percentage (118-of-241, .490). SR C Kristen Newlin and Smith combine for a strong one-two punch in the paint when VanDerveer goes with a bigger lineup. Newlin is also a consistent shooter, hitting almost 50 percent of her shots last season (87-of-176, .494), to rank sixth in the league. The Cardinal will be without the services of graduated senior and 3-point specialist Krista Rappahahn who finished 12th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (.438). Four new faces will join the Stanford ranks this season as the Class of 2010, and all of them should vie for considerable playing time. Highlighting this nationally-ranked class is 6-4 C Jayne Appel, a Parade and Street & Smith All-American. Appel is joined by Parade third team All-Americans 6-3 F Michelle Harrison and 5-10 G JJ Hones, as well as 5-9 G Melanie Murphy, a Street & Smith All-America honorable mention selection.
ON THIS YEAR'S RECRUITING CLASS - 'We are ecstatic about the caliber of person and player that Jayne, Michelle, JJ and Melanie are. It's part of our tradition at Stanford to have great young people who want to come here and improve. The way to do that is to play with other great players every day in practice in a competitive environment. The four signees all bring different talents, but they mesh well with each other. It is an excellent class.'
THE 2006-07 UCLA BRUINS
Two of the three players from last year's 'Triple Threat' are gone, but if SR G Noelle Quinn has anything to say about it, the defending State Farm Pac-10 Champions aren't going to bow out anytime soon. The Bruins of old - an offensive-minded team with a quick backcourt - will look more heavily to inside production, while relying on their size and defense. Lucky for UCLA, it should be bolstered with the experience of JR F Lindsey Pluimer, SR F Amanda Livingston and SO C Chinyere Ibekwe. Also folding into the mix is the fully-healthy SR F Julia Pitts, who saw action in 11 games last season after overcoming a torn left meniscus. Quinn will be the go-to leader both on and off the court. An All-American candidate with the ability to knock down a shot from anywhere on the court, she is an eight-time Pac-10 Player of the Week honoree and needs just one more nod to garner the most weekly accolades in Conference history. UCLA will look to build on last season's momentum as it was on fire down the second half of the season. The Bruins won 11 of their final 14 games, including an 85-76 overtime upset of Stanford in the Pac-10 Tournament finals. The team's 21 wins were the most since the 1998-99 squad went 26-8 and it was also just the third time since the 1980-81 season that UCLA won 21 games or more. Head coach Kathy Olivier is no stranger to a tough schedule and this season she will put her team up to a strong test with preseason non-conference games at Tennessee (Nov. 16) and at home against Oklahoma (Nov. 21) and Baylor (Dec. 17). A six-player recruiting class joins the UCLA ranks for Olivier this season. Highlighting the crew is 5-11 F Amy Horton, a Street and Smith's honorable mention All-American pick in 2005 who averaged 28 points and 10 rebounds as a junior.
ACCORDING TO COACH KATHY OLIVIER - 'We will have a new look this year. We have more size and will strive to be more effective on the inside. We must also play better at the defensive end of the floor. Everyone is going to have to work harder this year to get it done.' ON NOELLE QUINN - 'This is Noelle Quinn's team. I think she knows that. She has been more vocal in the off-season and has worked as hard as ever to make her game better. She has proven herself as one of the top players in the nation and may have to carry the team at times. Noelle was especially good for us down the stretch last season. She knows that she must provide that kind of production not only in February and March, but throughout the course of this season.'
THE 2006-07 TROJANS
Third-year head coach Mark Trakh continues to build the strength of the USC women's basketball program, as the Trojans finished tied for fourth in the league last season, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second-consecutive season. Returning all but one player from the 2005-06 squad, along with a nationally-ranked recruiting class, look for the Women of Troy to be a solid Pac-10 title contender. SR G Shay Murphy stepped her game up last season to become one of the premier players in the Conference and this season should be no different. A renaissance woman, Murphy can do it all and proved it by ranking in the Top-10 in seven 2005-06 Pac-10 categories: second in steals (2.42 spg), fourth in 3-pointers made, fifth in scoring (17.6), sixth in free-throw percentage (.785), sixth in rebounding, sixth in offensive rebounds (2.48 pg) and seventh in defensive rebounds (4.77 pg). Upperclassmen dominate the USC roster as 10 players will exhaust their eligibility within the next two years. Last year's USC squad was hit with injury after injury, but look for the healthy returns of JR G Brynn Cameron (hip), JR F Símone Jelks (knee), SR F Jamie Funn (hip) and SR C Markisha Lea (arm). The Women of Troy are not afraid to light it up from downtown, having finished second in the league in 3-point field goals made, dropping almost seven per game. Cameron owns the USC single-season record for treys (72), and is joined in the backcourt by 3-point specialists, Murphy and JR G Camille LeNoir, who ranked 10th in the Conference in 3-point field goal percentage (.341) last season. Holding court underneath the basket, the Trojans have a trio of options in senior centers Chloé Kerr and Lea, as well as SO C Nadia Parker. Parker played in every game as a freshman and when paired with Kerr, packed a nasty one-two punch in the post. Color them cardinal and gold: Four incoming freshmen dot the USC roster and what a quartet it is. Heralded as the top recruiting class in the nation, Trakh scored four blue-chip recruits in 6-2 G Hailey Dunham, 6-0 G Jacki Gemelos, 6-2 G Aarika Hughes and 6-1 G/F Morghan Medlock.
ACCORDING TO COACH MARK TRAKH - 'We are cautiously optimistic about the upcoming year. We have a good mixture of newcomers and returners -- we have the Magnificent Seven Seniors -- and we're looking forward to being competitive in the Pac-10. I believe the Pac-10 is going to be a very strong Conference.'
THE 2006-07 WASHINGTON HUSKIES
Washington looks to capitalize on a 2005-06 season that saw the Huskies finish tied for fourth in the league, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after a hard-fought 73-69 win over Big Ten-powerhouse Minnesota to open tourney play. Leading the way for UW is preseason All-American candidate SR G Cameo Hicks, the team's leading scorer who averaged an even 15 points per game during her junior campaign. Hicks, the school's first All-Pac-10 selection since the 2003-04 season, also paced the squad in rebounding (5.6 rpg), field-goals made (160), field-goals attempted (371), free-throws made (83) and three-point field goal percentage (.360). Look for strong play from an experienced group of post players, including senior forwards Jill Bell, Breanne Watson, Maggie O'Hara, JR F Andrea Plouffe and SO F Heidi McNeill. Plouffe came on strong in her sophomore campaign to finish second on the team in scoring (10.7 ppg) and third in rebounding (4.3 rpg). One of the more experienced players running the point in the Pac-10 is JR G Emily Florence, a 5-5, scrappy player, who led the team with 88 assists last season. Opposing teams had better make sure they box out as the Huskies paced the Conference in offensive boards, averaging over 17 second-chance opportunities per game. UW will need to pick up its game on the other end of the floor, however, as it tallied just 23 defensive rebounds a game, which ranked ninth in the Pac-10. Joining the Washington elite this season will be one junior transfer and three incoming freshmen, including 5-9 G Sara Mosiman, named The Seattle Times' Female High School Athlete of the Year for Class 2A this past June.
ACCORDING TO COACH JUNE DAUGHERTY - 'Reaching the NCAA Tournament and winning the NCAA title is always the goal of the Husky Basketball program. Returning to the field of 64 last year was very exciting and rewarding for our staff and players. The experience has taken our motivation to an extremely high level. We expect to return to the Tournament with these talented and hard working players.' ON THE OFF-SEASON - 'Our off-season goals as a coaching staff focused on improving players' mental toughness, skill development, and play on both ends of the floor - defensively, offensively and fast breaks. We want to play at a much higher level earlier in the season and maintain that consistency so we can maximize our team's potential in the preseason.'
THE 2006-07 WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS
Three of the five leading scorers from last year's Washington State squad return for the 2006-07 season, including SR F Kate Benz and sophomore guards Katie Appleton and Amanda DuRocher. The trio combined for over 70 starts and 700 points last year, guiding the Cougars to eight wins, including two in league play. Look for Benz to three-peat as the Pac-10's leading rebounder, having averaged an identical 9.1 boards per game in both 2004-05 and 2005-06. The two-time honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection needs just four rebounds (696) to break the 700-rebound plateau and 32 boards to claim third place on the WSU all-time career rebounding charts. DuRocher and Appleton are a deadly combination from downtown as the duo ranked seventh and eighth on the Pac-10 charts for 3-point field goals made with averages of 1.85 and 1.79, respectively. Appleton also finished seventh in the league in 3-point field goal percentage, hitting at a 37.3 clip. The sophomore tandem improved in leaps and bounds over the course of their first collegiate season, called upon to start a combined 43 games in head coach Sherri Murrell's fourth season at the helm of the Cougar program. Washington State will be bolstered by the return of SR G Adriane Ferguson, who sat out much of last season with a broken finger. The Spokane native, who ranks seventh on the WSU all-time career free-throw percentage list at 75 percent, averaged 3.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in just 16 games played last season. Six incoming freshmen join the Cougar ranks, including Seattle-product and 5-8 G Colleen Betteridge, a member of the state champion Chief Sealth basketball program. Murrell also signed 6-3 C Shanice Brown, ranked No. 19 in NorCalPreps.com Class of 2006 Top 40 rankings, adding needed depth to the post following the departure of senior-leader Keisha Moore.
ACCORDING TO COACH SHERRI MURRELL - 'I look for this season to be the best since I've been at Washington State. We've obviously got Kate [Benz] leading the way with her leadership and what she has brought to the program. We are returning a group of sophomores that were seasoned with playing time and are just going to be more athletic overall.' ON THE 2006-07 RECRUITING CLASS - 'Extremely talented and extremely athletic. That is one of the things we really focused on was bringing a lot more athleticism to the program. It's the 39th-ranked class in the nation, and I think they're a gifted, talented group.'