Read Jim Poniewozik Every
Illinois, Minnesota, and Indiana look
r nszh Michioen in the men's division
Expect a dogfight in the women s
division from Purdue, Iowa, and OSU
I../ FL4011J1 V 11V1
by Steven Cohen
Daily Basketball Writer
At last month's Big Ten
Conference Media Day, all ten
conference coaches proclaimed at
one time or another that they
belonged to the nation's premier
v . conference.
It is hard to disagree with them.
The conference has three coaches
who have won national titles and
last season two of it's teams were
in the Final Four. It's teams had a
74.3 percent winning percentage
against non-conference foes.
Minnesota, which made it to the
final 16 last season and returns all
five starters, is picked by many to
finish fourth. Wisconsin, which
didn't even receive an NCAA bid,
beat both Illinois and Michigan at
^' p home last season.
"I think there's a great balance in
the league from top to bottom,"
Ohio State assistant Paul Brazeau
said. "Four or five losses may win
Here's a look at all of
Michigan's conference opponents.
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country. We feel that in
Melvin Newbern and Kevin
Lynch we have two guards who can
play with anyone in the country."
Said Newbern: "Four years ago
we were getting beat by 20, 25
points a game. We're not going to
try and blow anyone out, but it's
Not many teams would be
expected to do much after losing
their entire front line (Nick
Anderson, Kenny Battle, and Lowell
Hamilton) and a point guard (Larry
But the presence of what many
are calling the nation's best
backcourt in seniors'Steve Bardo
and Kendall Gill, as well as forward
Marcus Liberty have prompted many
to pick the Illini to contend for the
The Illini, who have won 22
straight games at home, will be
bolstered by the addition of two 6'8"
junior college All-Americans
(Rodney Jones and Andy Kpedi) and
6'9" first-year phenom Deon
By now, most prognosticators
have learned that a Bobby Knight-
coached team should never be
counted out. Last year, most
publications picked the Hoosiers to
finish in the second-division.
Instead, Knight earned national
Coach of the Year honors by leading
Indiana to a 27-6 and 15-3
conference record. Gone are starters
Joe Hillman, Jay Edwards and Todd
Jadlow. Five other
have left as
Yet Indiana is again expected to
do well due to their stellar recruiting
class, easily the nation's best. The
Hoosiers seven first-year players are
led by Lawrence Funderburke, a 6'8"
forward and Pat Graham, a 6'5"
Returning starters Eric Anderson
and Lyndon Jones will anchor the
Last season, Wisconsin (18-11,
8-10) received it's first post-season
tournament invitation in 42 years
with an NIT bid. This year, coach
Steve Yoder seeks a more
prestigious invite in the form of a
NCAA tournament bid.
The Badgers, who return nine
players, are led by the league's
leading returning scorer, 6'6"
forward Danny Jones. Jones, who
has scored double figures in 42 of
44 games, averaged 20.9 points a
game last season. 6'11" center Kurt
Portmann is being counted on
heavily as well.
:O! E 00ft'b( N...7
by John Niyo1
and Ryan Schreiberc
Daily Basketball Writers'
INDIANAPOLIS - There's only
room for one at the top, but don't1
tell that to the women's basketball
teams of the Big Ten conference. At1
Wednesday's Big Ten Tip-Offc
Luncheon in Indianapolis, theF
conversation centered around the
league's parity and its ever in-t
creasing national recognition.1
Last year, Purdue established it-
self as a force to be reckoned with
when it joined the perennial con-
ference elite, Ohio State and Iowa, at
"They've (Purdue) given rise to
Big Ten basketball on a national
level so no longer are they (only)
talking about Iowa and Ohio State,"
Iowa coach C. Vivian Stringer said.
"Purdue being here as the favorite
has to help all of us."
The conference's teams, as we see
Lin Dunn hasn't had any trouble
winning games at Purdue. She has
won 45 games in her two years as
head coach, though the league title
has eluded her grasp. This year, the
Boilermakers have been pegged by
most to finally wear that crown.
"This is a special time for our
program, because I don't think I've
ever been picked to be number one,"
Dunn said. "So we're going to enjoy
the moment though we're not going
to get carried away."
Dunn, last season's Big Ten
Coach of the Year, welcomes back
three starters from a team that ad-
vanced to the NCAA's second round
Junior Joy Holmes, a first-team
All Big-Ten performer at forward last
season, along with MaChelle
Joseph, the conference'sareturning
Freshman of the Year and leading
scorer, will help Dunn in her quest.
The Hawkeyes sport a powerful
team led by pre-season All Big-Ten
seniors Jolette Law and Franthea
Price, favored by many to win
the Big Ten Player of the Year,
averaged 14.4 points per game last
season, and pulled down 5.6 re-
bounds per game. She also led the
conference in steals, nabbing 3.3 a
The Hawkeyes, always tough at
home (where they sport a 41 game
winning streak), will have to replace
leading scorer and rebounder 6-foot-3
center Shanda Berry, and starting
guard Robin Christian.
"We're going to be a smaller
team," Stringer said. "But we really
haven't thought about Shanda and
we continue to look forward. "
T " H . E I
You might think that in losing
its top two players, the Buckeyes
would be staring a mediocre season
in the face. Instead, coach Nancy
Darsch is looking to bring home
another league title for the Buckeyes.
OSU has won seven of eight Big
Ten titles and Darsch will also be
striving to earn her fifth NCAA bid
in five years.
"I don't look at this season as a
rebuilding year at all," Darsch said.
Much of the burden will rest on
the shoulders of Nicole Sanchez, as
she represents the only returning
starter. Sanchez will be helped by
an imposing force in the middle, 6-
foot-5 senior Mindy Smith.
constructed Breslin Center. The 5-
foot 8 guard led the team in scoring
at 13.1 points per game, and in
steals with 43.
"Eileen was our MVP last year,"
Spartan coach Karen Langeland said.
"We expect that she will pick up
right where she left off last year."
MSU will encounter difficulties
in replacing the injured Cherie
Swarthout, who was expected to re-
turn at forward this season.
The success of Jim Izard's second
season as coach of Indiana will be
determined by the Hoosier's ability
to replace three high-scoring starters
from last season.
The Hoosiers center their team
around 5-foot-11 forwards Pam
Owens and Zandrea Jeffries. Owens
missed most of last season due to
academic ineligibility and Jeffries
has had an injury-plagued career.
First-year players Jenny Davis,
MVP of the national AAU tourn-
ament and prep All-American Kourt-
ney Cox are expected to contribute
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optimistic and has every reason to
be. If the schizophrenic Gophers, 8-1
at home last season, 1-8 on the road,
can improve away from
Minneapolis, they will contend for
the Big Ten title.
"We feel that each night out we
have a chance to win the ball game,"
Haskins said. "We have six seniors
returning - six starters. Richard
Coffey is one of the best rebounders
in the league. Willie Burton is one
of the premier forwards in the
Spartan coach Jud Heathcote
returns 10 letterwinners, including
all five starters and his eight leading
scorers. Yet he is placing most of
his emphasis on a player who has
yet to play a collegiate game.
See Big 10, Page 13
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Three years ago, the Wildcats
paid a visit to the NCAA tourn-
ament. Last season, they paid a visit
to the local hospital. Injuries de-
cimated what looked to be a prom-
ising squad and the end result was
Don Perrelli's first losing season
"Luck is going to play a big part
of this season," he said. "We're
going to have to stay healthy."
Four of the five healthy returning
starters will take the court hoping to
return the Wildcats to the NCAAs.
Senior guard Kelly Cole and Mya
Whitmore, a 6-foot-3 junior center,
will lead the way.
Leading scorer Eileen Shea leads
the Spartans into the newly-
With three returning starters, the
Illini look to improve on their 6-12
conference record of last season.
Coach Laura Golden's Illini are
paced by junior Sarah Sharp, a pre-
season All-America candidate, who
captained the North team to a gold
medal in last summer's U.S. Olym-
"Sarah had a tremendous ex-
perience (at) the Olympic Festival,"
Golden said. "Right now she is a
legitimate All-America candidate."
Badger coach Mary Murphy plans
to install a three-guard offense this
year as the Badgers look to continue
their climb to respectability.
"We're much more competitive
than we've ever been," coach
Murphy'said. "The greatest feeling
for me is when I sit on our bench in
the fieldhouse and I see the other
coaches look a little nervous. They
never used to look nervous! "
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