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November 15, 1999 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-11-15

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II - The Michigan Daily - Women'sBaskebaI'99 - Monday, November 15, 1999

PURDUE 0
Coach: Kristen Curry
1998-99 Record: 34-1, 16-0 (1st,
NCAA Champions)
Starters Returning: Camille Cooper
9.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg; Katie Douglas 14. 1
ppg, 6.2 RPG
Make or Break: Purdue lost 50 per-
cent of its scoring, so the new front
line needs to make more shots.
"We're always in the mood for a
repeat," said first-year Purdue coach
Kristen Curry, as though the thought of
her team not winning the NCAA title-
two years in a row was impossible.
"Who wouldn't be?"
Purdue, after stealing the title from
Duke 62-45 this past March, is starving
for another championship.
"Our hopes and goals and dreams are
just to build on the success of the past,"
Curry said "We need to maintain where
we're at and consistently compete to be
the best there is"
The Boilermakers just might be able
to have a season very similar to last
year's astonishing 34-1 blowout.
But just like any championship team,
they have a few minor setbacks to over-
come.
A new coach, for one.
"I think Coach Curry has been great
in the transition as a new coach," Purdue
junior point guard Katie Douglas said.
"She provides a lot of enthusiasm and
energy into the system, and it's been
great so far."
As for Curry, taking control over the
team that beat her own Louisiana Tech
in the Final Four last year, it's a little dis-
concerting.
"There are so many mixed emotions,"
Curry said. "Louisiana Tech will always
have a very special place in my heart,
but Purdue has a big part of my heart
right now, and that's just how I'm
approaching it."
The loss of last season's Big Ten
Player of the Year Stephanie White
McCarty (20.2 ppg, 156 assists), for
another.
"That's 40 points right there,"
Douglas said. "We have to make up for
that somewhere, either offensively or
defensively. We're going to have a dif-
ferent style of play this year."
Not to mention losing the 1999 Final
Four's most outstanding player, Ukari
Figgs (16.3 ppg, 147 assists).
"Steph and Ukari will be a huge loss
to us," Curry said. "That's 50% of our
scoring"
Then the heart-wrenching loss of
teammate Tiffany Young, who was killed
in an alcohol-related accident this past
summer.
"We still think about and talk about
her every day," Douglas said. It brought
our team closer together - even closer
than it already was."
Purdue must also devise a game plan
in order to defeat Illinois and Penn State
- both assumed by the coaches to be
the top two teams in the Big Ten.
But the rankings aren't going to
downplay the hope to maintain its 'still
the one' attitude. It didn't matter last
year, why should it matter now?
"I think there were a lot of people
who thought we didn't have the most tal-
ented team or the most athletic team"
Douglas said. "When it comes down to
it, you have to have the intangibles on
the court, like chemistry. They play a
vital role in the championships."
The Boilermakers are looking to cre-
ate a new leader out of Douglas, who
lead the team with 217 rebounds and 91
steals per game last year.
How do they think they'll fare against

Michigan?

"There's nobody in the country that I
have more respect for than Sue
Guevara," Curry said. "She's done a
great job at Michigan and will continue
to. I certainly think that they have just as
much an opportunity to win the Big Ten
this year as anyone."

THE OPPOSITION

-Dena Beth Krischer

' _
'

ILLINOIS

PENN STATE

Coach: Rene Portland
1998-99 Record: 22-8, 12-4 (2nd,
lost in second round of NCAA)
Starters Returning: Andrea Garner
14.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg; Helen Darling
12.4 ppg, 226 assists; Lisa Shepherd
12.4 ppg, .768 FT%
Make or Break: The Nittany Lions
can win the Big Ten Title if it doesn't
let revenge get the best of them.
"Purdue, Purdue, Purdue," Penn State
senior guard Helen Darling said with a
vengeful edge in her voice.
Last February, then-No. 18 Penn State
lost to then-No. 2 Purdue by a single
basket in the final seconds of an over-
time game.
The Nittany Lions want those two
points back, and it plans on doing just
that and then some.
"We know what we have to do,"
Darling said.
The Nittany Lions are back, the Big
Ten coaches have ranked them above
their nemesis Purdue, and to them,
there's only one thing left to do: win.
To put it bluntly.
"It really gives you confidence know-
ing that you were this close," senior cen-
ter Andrea Gasrner said. "Especially to
National Champions like Purdue."
Only this year, although a vengeful
victory would be more than accepted,
Purdue is not expected to be the team to
beat. Illinois is.
Penn State and Illinois are of equal
caliber, and only time will tell which is
the better of the two.
Its only fitting that the two teams so
'closely matched are lead by two coach-
es that are so closely linked.
As Illinois coach Theresa Grentz and
Penn State coach Rene Portland - for-
mer teammates back in '71 -- compete
for the top spot in the Big Ten, they
refuse to 'ready, aim, fire' at each other.
"Theresa and I both chuckle about it,"
Portland said as she begins her 21st sea-
son as Penn State's head coach. "Here
we are again. She said she doesn't want
the bull's eye on her back. I don't think
it's a bull's eye, I just think it's a natural
progression of what we're looking for."
It's simply a 'friendly' competition
between old buddies.
"We'd rather walk out of here being in
the top than being on the bottom. It's
going to make practice interesting, and it
makes you more aware of something
you need to value. We need to value the
Big Ten - the Big Ten is your ticket to
the NCAA tournament."
Penn State hopes to breeze through
the Big Ten under the tutelage of
Portland and the leadership of Darling.
"I have a lot of goals for myself and
the team," Darling said. "For the team, I
want to go undefeated and win the Big
Ten, win the National Championship. I
can't do that alone - I also need my
teammates. Sometimes I have to sit back
and just observe and let someone else
lead. I'm not always the leader."
She's got all the support in the world
from Garner.
"There's really nothing personal that I
want to do," Garner said. "Not as much
as get the team back to Philadelphia in
March and win the final four and the
National Championship."
- Dena Beth Krischer

Coach: Theresa Grentz
1998-99 Record: 19-12, 10-6 (3rd,
NCAA 2nd Round)
Starters Returning: Susan Blauser
17.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg; Tauja Cummings
13.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg; Allison Curtin
12.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg
Make or Break: How the young
backcourt meshes with the older
frontcourt?
Going home in March has always
been fun for Illinois women's basketball
coach Theresa Grentz, but this March
the Glenolden, Pennsylvania native
hopes that her trip home has an addi-
tional purpose other than just seeing her
friends and family. Grentz is hoping -
and expecting - that her Fighting Illini
will be playing in the Final Four in
Philadelphia. And this year, Grentz has
the team to do it.
"The good part about that would be
all my players and fans would hear that
there is a whole place that talks just like
me, because I don't think they under-
stand that." Grentz joked. "It would be
very special"
Illinois returns seven players that
started a game last year including two
All-America candidates: forwards Tauja
Catchings and Susan Blauser, who
transferred from Rutgers two years ago.
Last year, the pair lit Illini opponents up
for a combined 30.3 points per game.
Expect more of the same this year from
the duo.
"They both have aspirations to play in
the WNBA," Grentz said. "We've had
scouts in everyday that we've had prac-
tice and they know that. They know
what they have to do, Tauja has to be
more offensive minded, and Susan has
to be one of the great defensive position
players."
But Illinois' fate will rest in an outside
presence stepping up and preventing
defenses from challenging the Illini
guards to shoot from the perimeter. The
two most likely to fill that role are
sophomores Allison Curtin and Cindy
Dallas. As freshmen the two averaged
12.9 and 8.7 points per game, respec-
tively.
"I've got a unique team," Grentz said.
"I've got four seniors, all four 22 or
older. And then I've got eight little ones,
living in the dorms having the time of
their life doing the 'Chief Illiniwek,'
doing the 'Oskee-wow-wow.' The older
ones are 23 and the younger ones 17.
That's half a generation. So if we can put
that together, it will be pretty interest-
ing."

her high school teammates in Iowa,
towering over the competition en route
to being named the 1999 High School
Player of the Year by USA Today and
Parade Magazine.
"Nina is the real deal," Wisconsin
coach Jane Albright said. "She's only
18 years old, and with all the hype you
would think that she would sit back and
think that she is all that, but she is a
hard worker.
Smith led her team to the Class 4A
state finals, averaging 28.5 points and
11.3 rebounds while shooting 78 per-
cent from the field. The center was so
dominant that she consistently drew
double- and triple-teams.
"I think Nina is in heaven because it
is going to be a one-on-one thing or
one-on-two;" Albright said. "I saw her
in Iowa, and one team played one per-
son in front of her, one behind her, and
the other three in a triangle."
Smith will join a frontcourt at
Wisconsin that already boasts the last
two Big Ten freshmen of the year in
Jessie Stomski and LaTonya Sims.
Combined, the three will make up the
most formidable frontcourt in the Big
Ten, if not the nation.
"We have to prove that we have other
weapons," Albright said, "because I've
seen a lot of front lines where people
couldn't get them the ball or they got in
foul trouble."
Last season, despite a fourth place
finish in the Big Ten, Wisconsin was
denied a bid to the NCAA Tournament
after falling to Ohio State in the first
round of the Big Ten Tournament, hav-
ing to settle instead for the WNIT. But
the Badgers made the most of postsea-
son play, going all the way to the WNIT
finals before bowing to Arkansas 67-
64.
"As long as I've been coaching, that
was probably the most positive experi-
ence total;' Albright said. "We got to
play five more games and it was in a
situation that if you lose you go home,
so there was pressure. You couldn't put
a price tag on those five extra games
for us."
With the added experience of post-
season play and a top-ranked freshman
class, Wisconsin now finds itself with
the talent and potential that have people
in Badger country talking about a Big
Ten title.
As far as Albright is concerned,
nothing is out of the realm of possibili-
ty.
"I don't know what realism is,"
Albright said. "I know potential and
talent, and that's why we are excited."
-Michael Kern

waves in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes'
goals, though, are light years away
from a run at a Big Ten title, Ohio
State coach Beth Burns said.
"We have six first year players, so
its hard for them to be comfortable
with anything because they just got
here," Burns said. "It's teaching time.
We are starting from square one with
a group of excited, enthusiastic
young people. We are a work in
progress and are going to be that way
for quite some time"
One player that will have to step up
and take a major leadership role for
the Buckeyes to be successful this
season is senior forward Michaela
Moua. As the only senior on the
team, the Buckeyes' Most Improved
Player and co-Defensive Player of the
Year will have to step up and become
the team's on-floor leader.
"As the older players we feel the
responsibility to be leaders," Moua
said of herself and junior Courtney
Bale. "The veteran players help (the
freshmen) on the court. We're kind of
like assistant coaches that way."
The Buckeyes will also rely on the
three-point wizardry of sophomore
Lauren Shenk who was among the
best players in the league last season
with a .382 three-point field goal per-
centage.
"The advent of the three-point line
makes someone who has that as a
strength integral to what you are try-
ing to do," Burns said. "We spent the
whole offseason getting her strong
and getting her release quicker and
trying to get her to understand that
we need her to shoot the ball. We are
going to depend on Lauren for 20
points a game in some shape or
form."
Despite the talent of Moua and
Shenk, Ohio State realizes that a Big
Ten championship this season is not a
tangible goal. Instead, the Buckeyes
want to develop their young talent so
that they can make a run at the title
the next few years down the line.
"Our goal is just to be better every-
day," Burns said. "I have great com-
fort in our talent level. We have some
players who can play, but they need to
learn how to play with each other."
- Michael Kern
MICHIGAN STATE
Coach: Karen Langeland
1998-99 Record: 17-14, 8-8, (T-6th,
lost in WNIT quarterfinals)
Starters Returning: Maxann Reese
17.6 ppg 3.6 rpg, Kristen Rasmussen
15.2 ppg 9.2 rpg, Becky Cummings
11.5 ppg 7.4 rpg
Make or Break: How far can Reese
and Rasmussen take the Spartans?
Seven of Michigan State's 14 losses
last season were by six points or less,
including the Spartans' 70-69 overtime
loss to Wisconsin in the WNIT's third
round. But the Spartans were one sec-
ond away from not making the quarter-
finals. Three days earlier sophomore
Becky Cummings made a put-back to
beat Michigan, 69-68. That shot
redeemed a one-point overtime loss to
the Wolverines in January, which was
also the Spartans' sole loss they suffered
when they led at the half.
"I'm tired of being tied with
Michigan," Michigan State coach Karen
Langeland said. "Where we're picked in
preseason doesn't concern me a whole
lot. Obviously, I'm more concerned
about where we're finished at the end of
the season."

Though they return four starters, the
Spartans were expected to tie for fifth
this season in the Big Ten coaches' poll.
Though the Spartans are expecting
more, the tough Big Ten will force
Michigan State to play well every game.
During crunch time, the Spartans will
turn to senior Maxann Reese. The guard
made the coaches' all-Big Ten first-team
last season and was the Spartans' lead-
ing scorer, averaging 17.6 points per
game.
But the Spartans will need another
player to emerge if they are to finish in
the Big Ten's top half and make the
NCAA Tournament. The player most
likely to step up is Kristen Rasmussen.
The forward averaged 15.2 points and
9.2 rebounds per game last season, good
enough for second-team all-Big Ten.
Reese's outside game is complement-
ed by Rasmussen's low-post game, but
;n the nation's best conference, the

IOWA

Spartans will have no margin for error
-- a lesson they learned last year.
"For us, having two players coming
off reconstructive knee surgery (Nikki
Davis and Vnemina Reese) it was the
first time they could compete and prac-
tice. We basically had practice for a
month beforehand."
- Raphy Goodsteir

O.AW

Coach: Angie Lee
1998-99 Record: 12-15, 7-9 (8th,
no postseason action)
Starters Returning: Lindsey Meder
13.9 ppg, .708 FT%; Cara
Consuegra 11.4 ppg, .682 FT%;
Randi Peterson 9.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg
Make or Break: Iowa's young team
has to make up for Herrig's absence
in the front line in order to do any
damage in the Big Ten.
The future is bright for Iowa, for the
only way it can go is up.
Last season, Iowa's 12-15 overall
record may have been meager, but it was
far from disappointing.
"It wasn't at all;' Iowa coach Angie
Lee said. "We had eight freshman, two
sophomores, and one senior. So really,
when 70% of your team is freshman,
and you finish 8-8 in the Big Ten con-
ference, I see that as not necessarily a
losing season, because it is on paper, but
it isn't when you're looking into your
future."
Now, with a relatively older, more
experienced team, Iowa can expect to
somehow get 'back in the groove.'
Possibly even make it back to the top
five, although that might be a stretch.
"I think by getting back into the top
five, then you're going to go to the
NCAA tournament;' Lee said. "That is
our goal we want to achieve this year.
According to junior guard Cara
Consuegra, it's not a stretch. In fact,
Iowa was only three games under 500,
and of those losses, five of them were
within six points. The most heartbreak-
ing: a two-point loss in overtime against
National Champions Purdue.
"I think there's a lot of games that
were just so close that it still hurts us
inside,' Consuegra said. "We just want
to come back against everyone. We want
to show that we weren't a fluke, that
those games were close and now that
we've improved enough, we can win
those games."
Since it only lost two seniors, there
isn't much Iowa needs to rebuild on.
But who could possibly fill the giant
void left by Amy Herrig, who led the
team in points (504), free throws (78.7
percent), rebounds (306) and blocks
(18) in the entire 98-99 season.
"Obviously Amy Herrig is somebody
that everybody is going to be asking
'how are you going to replace her?"'
Lee said. "I don't think you replace her.
I think that this team is goingto lend'
itself to more balance. Last year, we
really had to rely on Herrig to be there
every game, and if she wasn't going to
be there every game, that was going to
be a lot of trouble for us. This year, we
can see a lot more people getting into
the mix, spreading it out, and having
more balance. The freshman are going
to figure in, they're going to get in some
time.'
In a way, the Hawkeyes sort of have
that luxury again in sophomore guard0
Linsey Meder - a player they can rely
on for the next three years.
"Meder is a great player; Lee said.
"She's really a 'gamer,' there's no doubt
about it. We rely a lot on Lindsey, and
are going to look to her even more this
year."
Along with Meder comes a new
atmosphere - that feeling of actually
being a part of something that can jump
start.
"I think there's a whole attitude that's
different," Consuegra said. "I think we
kind of feel like we belong. Last year,
with all of the freshman that we had,
they felt so out of place, like they didn't,
necessarily belong here in the Big Ten.
This year, everybody feels like they're

ready to play and that we can compete,
here. There's a whole other intensity
level that we never had before."
Iowa will be able to maintain that
same intensity next season, since it has
no seniors, so the only thing it can do is
improve that much more this year and
come back even stronger the next.
- Dena Beth Krischer

OHIO STATE

« .
:
<.. ,

- Raphv Goodstein
IF

WISCONSIN

Coach: Jane Albright
1998-99 Record: 18-14, 9-7 (5th, lost
in NIT Finals)
Starters Returning: Tamara Moore
10.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg; LaTonya Sims 18.0
ppg, 6.7 rpg; Jessie Stomski 14.3
ppg, 6.7 rpg
Make or Break: With opponents
focusing on one of the nation's top
front courts, the guards will have to
step up to knock down the outside
shot.
.. .. .. . . .... . .... ..............
College basketball has seen "Big
Country" Bryant Reeves and "Big
Continent" Brad Millard, now it wel-
comes "Big Nina."
Nina Smith, a 6-4 freshman center at
Wisconsin, earned that nickname from

Coach: Beth Burns
1998-99 Record: 17-12, 9-7 (tie 4th
lost in first round of NCAA)
Starters Returning: Michaela
Moua 9.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg; Lauren
Shenk 9.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Make or Break: With the loss of
four seniors, the Buckeyes will rely on
a second-ranked recruiting class to
step in and perform right away.
.... ... ..... .... ..... .... ..... .... .... ... ... .. ..... .. ...
A learning process.
That's what the 1999-2000 season
will be for an Ohio State women's
basketball team that has six new play-
ers and graduated four seniors from
last year. And with nine first or sec-
ond-year players, the Buckeyes, a
team short on experience in a confer-
ence loaded with veteran teams, may
find themselves looking up at the rest
of the Big Ten in the standings come
March.
But with the second-ranked
recruiting class in the nation, Ohio
State does have the potential to make

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