Friday, March 21, 2003

Women: East Regional team capsules

1. Connecticut (31-1)

Big East

Coach: Geno Auriemma.

Top players: G Diana Taurasi, F Ashley Battle, G Ann Strother.

Comments: The defending national champs won't be able to put up back-to-back perfect seasons. UConn finally lost - to Villanova 52-48 in the Big East final - ending the longest winning streak in women's Division I history at 70 games.

2. Purdue (26-5)

Big Ten

Coach: Kristy Curry

Top players: F Shereka Wright, G Erika Valek, C Mary Jo Noon.

Comment: The Boilermakers, who won the Big Ten tournament, have been the conference's regular season or tournament champions for seven straight years. Wright, Purdue's leading scorer and rebounder, made the conference first team again.

3. Kansas State (28-3)

Big 12

Coach: Deb Patterson

Top players: C Nicole Ohlde, F Kendra Wecker, G Megan Mahoney.

Comment: Ohlde, the Big 12 Player of the Year, can score, rebound and pass. The Wildcats, who lost in the Big 12 semifinals, can play with anyone but their margin of error is small because the team is not deep.

4. Vanderbilt (21-9)


Coach: Melanie Balcomb

Top players: C Chantelle Anderson, G Ashley McElhiney, F Jenni Benningfield.

Comment: Vandy slipped in the SEC after winning the title last season but remains a tough opponent with 6-6 Anderson a force inside and 5-6 McElhiney, the Little General, at the point.

5. Boston College (20-8)

Big East

Coach: Cathy Inglese

Top players: F Becky Gottstein, G Jessalyn Deveny, G Amber Jacobs.

Comment: The Eagles, who hung around the Top 25 playing a tough schedule all season, gave UConn a close Big East game, losing by eight. Deveny was named Most Improved Player in the Big East.

6. Arizona (22-8)


Coach: Joan Bonvicini

Top players: C Shawntinice Polk, G Dee Dee Wheeler, F Krista Warren.

Comment: Arizona has a pretty good women's team too. Polk, a 6-5 freshman, had 20 double-doubles to lead the Wildcats to a second place finish in the pac-10 behind Stanford. Arizona beat four ranked teams.

7. Virginia Tech (21-9)

Big East

Coach: Bonnie Henrickson

Top players: F Ieva Kublina, G Carrie Mason, C Erin Gibson.

Comment: The Hokies have posted six straight 20-win seasons under Henrickson. Kublina, a 6-4 forward from Latvia, and Mason, an outstanding freshman, are the first Tech players to make the all-Big East first team.

8. Michigan State (17-11)

Big Ten

Coach: Joanne McCallie

Top players: F Syreeta Bromfield, G Lindsay Bowen, F Liz Shimek.

Comment: Bromfield, a senior from Jamaica, combined with Bowen and Shimek, co-Big Ten freshmen of the year, to lead the Spartans to a tie for fourth place in the conference and their best record since 1996.

9. Texas Christian (19-13)

Conference USA

Coach: Jeff Mittie

Top players: F Sandora Irvin, F Tiffany Evans, G Ebony Evans.

Comment: Irvin, who played at Fort Lauderdale High, had 26 points and 19 rebounds in leading the Frogs to an overtime victory over Cincinnati in the conference title game. TCU played a difficult nonconference schedule.

10. Georgia Tech (20-10)


Coach: Agnus Berenato

Top players: C Sonja Mallory, F Fallon Stokes, G Alex Stewart.

Comment: After three straight trips to the WNIT, the Yellow Jackets are playing in the big tournament. The 6-5 Mallory has developed into one of the top post players in the ACC and the leader of the squad.

11. Notre Dame (19-10)

Big East

Coach: Muffet McGraw

Top players: F Jacqueline Batteast, G Alicia Ratay, F Courtney LaVere.

Comment: The Irish finished strong but fell short of registering their 10 consecutive 20-win season. Former Fort Lauderdale High product Le' Tania Severe is one of the quickest point guards in the country.

12. Old Dominion (21-10)


Coach: Wendy Larry

Top players: G Okeisha Howard, F Monique Coker, G Shareese Grant.

Comment: Old Dominion extended its perfect 12-year record in the CAA, defeating Delaware in the final, but the Lady Monarchs lost three times in league play after winning 148 of their last 149.

13. Liberty (26-3)

Big South

Coach: Carey Green

Top players: C Katie Feenstra, G Kristal Tharp, G Daina Stagaitiene.

Comment: The 6-8 Feenstra, the tallest player in school history, led the Flames to their seventh consecutive Big South title. Liberty has won 22 in a row, the third best streak in the country.

14. Harvard (22-4)


Coach: Kathy Delaney Smith

Top players: F Hana Peljito, C Reka Cserny, F Trica Tubridy.

Comment: The Crimson, perfect in the Ivy League, enters the tournament on a 16-game winning streak. Historians will recall that Harvard is the only No. 16 seed, men or women, to beat a No. 1 (Stanford in 1998).

15. Valparaiso (18-12)


Coach: Keith Freeman

Top players: F Jeanette Gray, G Katie Boone, F Meredith Baugher.

Comment: The Crusaders won their first conference title and make their first appearance in the women's NCAA Tournament after 33 years. Valpo is defensive-minded, holding opponents under 60 points 20 times.

16. Boston University (16-14)

America East

Coach: Margaret McKeon

Top players: G Katie Terhune, G Katie Meinhardt, F Adrienne Norris.

Comment: The Terriers pulled off one of the biggest conference tournament upsets when they ended Maine's 21-game winning streak. The Terriers are making their first NCAA appearance in the 28-year history of the program.

- South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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