October 22, 2006

Preseason WNIT Preview

By: Marian Cortesi

What's in store for the Cardinal as it opens the 2006-07 season with at least one and possibly four games in the Preseason WNIT? Will we play Hofstra, High Point, Iona? I don't think so. How about Baylor, North Carolina State, Purdue?

Here's a complete bracket.

The First Round

Our first-round game is against Loyola Marymount on Thursday, Nov 9th at Maples.

Ashlee Dunlap

The LMU Lions have traditionally been a power in the West Coast Conference, but they faltered a bit last year, ending 17-12 with a loss to Pepperdine in the WCC Tournament semifinals.

Coach Julie Wilhoit says her squad is reloaded with talent and ready to go. They have two star seniors, forward Ashlee Dunlap (1st in points and rebounds last year) and guard Amanda Patton (2nd in points), and four freshmen who had standout high school careers. They don't have much to put up against Brooke, New, Morgan and Jayne -- just three 6-2 players (their only center, freshman Maggie Burkett, junior forward Jennifer Hall, and sophomore forward Jenna Sybesma).

The Cardinal is 1-0 against the Lions (1987).

The Second Round

If we win the first round, our second game is on Monday, Nov 13th at Maples against Idaho State or, more likely, BYU:

  • Dani Kubik Wright
    The BYU Cougars (Provo, UT), under coach Jeff Judkins, ended last season 26-6 with a loss to Oklahoma in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. All-American forward Ambrosia Anderson, their top scorer and rebounder last season, graduated. Returning are the other four starters (Dani Kubik Wright, Mallary Gillespie, Melinda Johnsen, Jennie Keele) and the top two scorers off the bench (Lauren Riley and Shawnee Slade).

    The Cardinal is 2-1 against the Cougars (1986, 1987, 1990).

  • The Idaho State Bengals (Pocatello, ID) ended last season 17-13 with a loss to Kansas State in the first round of the Postseason WNIT.

The Semifinal Round

And then it's on against Baylor, Hofstra, Northern Texas or Wichita State. If there's a Stanford vs Baylor semifinal, as seems likely, it will be at Baylor on Thursday, Nov 16th.

  • The Baylor Bear Cubs
    The Baylor Lady Bears (Waco, TX), under coach Kim Mulkey, ended last season 26-7 with a loss to Maryland in the Sweet Sixteen. Standouts Sophia Young and Abiola Wabara graduated. Returning are three other starters, Angela Tisdale (their #2 scorer last year), Jessica Morrow and Latoya Wyatt. They are joined by seven newcomers, ranked the #4 recruiting class nationally by HoopGurlz.

    The Cardinal is 0-1 against the Lady Bears (1983).
  • The Hofstra Pride (Hempstead, NY) ended last season 19-12 with a loss to Villanova in the second round of the Postseason WNIT.

  • The North Texas Mean Green (Denton, TX) ended last season 19-8 with a loss to Arkansas State in the quarterfinal of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

  • The Wichita State Shockers (Wichita, KS) ended last season 15-13 with a loss to Evansville in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.

The Teams on the Other Side of the Bracket

  • Khadijah Whittington
    The North Carolina State Wolfpack (Raleigh, NC), under coach Kay Yow, ended last season 19-12 with a loss to Tulsa in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. This season's roster features six seniors, three of the Pack's top five scorers (Ashley Key, leading rebounder Khadijah Whittington and Marquetta Dickens) and six freshmen who are ranked the #7 recruiting class nationally by HoopGurlz.

    This is Yow's 32nd season at NC State -- her 700th win is in sight!

    The Cardinal is 2-1 against the Wolfpack (1987, 1988, 1994).

  • Katie Gearlds

    The Purdue Boilermakers (West Lafayette, IN), under former coach Kristy Curry, ended last season 26-7 with a loss to North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen. Eight Boilermakers return this year, including three of last year's starters and top scorers -- Katie Gearlds (who is on the Wade Trophy watch list, along with Candice and Brooke), Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton (who was a member of the USA U20 team this summer) and Erin Lawless.

    They have a new coach this year, Purdue alumna Sharon Versyp. She is hugely popular with Purdue fans (think "Jennifer Azzi at Stanford"). The excitement about her return to Purdue has translated to a surge in season ticket sales -- more than 7000, 1500 more than last year.

    The Cardinal is 5-3 against the Boilermakers (1987 - 2000).

  • Kia Wright

    The St. John's Red Storm (Queens, NY), under coach Kim Barnes Arico, ended last season 22-8 with a loss to Maryland in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Six players return this year, including Kia Wright, last year's top scorer and Angela Clark, last year's #2 scorer and rebounder.

    The Cardinal and the Red Storm have never played each other.

  • Danielle Hood

    The Hartford Hawks (Hartford, CT), under coach Jennifer Rizzotti, ended last season 27-4. They have won three Atlantic East Conference championships in the past five years, and won their first ever NCAA Tournament game last year with an upset of #6 Temple before losing to Georgia in the second round. They return three starters and ten players, including two of the three top scorers, America East Rookie of the Year Erica Beverly and First Team All-Conference member Danielle Hood.

    The Cardinal and the Hawks have never played each other.

  • The Dartmouth Big Green (Hanover, NH) were #1 in their conference (Ivy League) for the second consecutive year. They ended last season 23-7 with a loss to Rutgers in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Three starters and eight letterwinners return this season, and they are likely to be Ivy League champion for the third year in a row.

  • The Belmont Bruins (Nashville, TN) were #1 in their conference (Atlantic Sun), but lost in the Tournament quarter-final.They ended last season 22-8 with a loss to Tennessee Tech in the preliminary round of the Postseason WNIT.

  • The High Point Panthers (High Point, NC) ended last season 20-10 with a loss to Liberty in the Big South Conference championship game. It was their most successful season since moving to Division I in 1999.

  • The Iona College Gaels (New Rochelle, NY) ended last season 17-12 with a loss to Marist in the final seconds of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference semifinals. It was their first winning season since 1981-82.

The Championship Game

If Stanford wins its first three games, the championship game will be at Maples on Sunday, Nov 19th.

My Prediction

Cardinal All the Way!

Round 1: Stanford wins over LMU.
Round 2: Stanford wins over BYU.
Semifinal: Stanford wins over Baylor.
Championship: Stanford wins over North Carolina State.

No comments: