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2012-13 women's college basketball preview

Times staff writer Antonya English previews the women's college basketball season:

Five players to watch

1. Brittney Griner, Baylor

The most dominant player in the women's college game today, Griner led Baylor to a national championship last season averaging 23.2 points and five blocks. She is only the third player in history to become a unanimous two-time selection to the AP preseason All-America team, receiving all 40 votes — joining former UConn star Maya Moore and Duke's Alana Beard.

2. Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame

Arguably the nation's top point guard, Diggins has led Notre Dame to back-to-back NCAA championship game appearances. The 5-9, left-handed Diggins' pure shooting is what makes her game special. Notre Dame won the Big East championship last season, leaving Diggins only one hole in her resume — a national title.

3. Elena Delle Donne, Delaware

Delle Donne led the nation in scoring last season with 28.1 points per game, and also averaged 10.3 rebounds and shot 52 percent from the field (41 from beyond the arc). Two years ago she missed 12 games with Lyme disease and is currently battling a recurrence of the symptoms.

4. Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford

Along with her older sister, Nneka, she helped lead Stanford to its fifth consecutive Final Four last season. With Nneka gone, Chiney will need to carry more of the load. She averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds and shot 58 percent from the field.

5. A'dia Mathies, Kentucky

The 5-9 guard is the heart and soul of Kentucky's team and has been instrumental in the Wildcats' rise among the elite programs in the SEC. The reigning SEC player of the year, she averaged 15 points and led UK in assists, steals and 3-point field goals.

Five teams to watch

1. Tennessee: For the first time in 39 years Pat Summitt will not be the Vols' head coach. Longtime assistant Holly Warlick begins her tenure as head coach after 27 years as an assistant, and perhaps no coach will be under more scrutiny this season than she, replacing a legend who won 16 SEC titles and 1,098 games.

2. Baylor: Any championship team will tell you it's tough to make it to the top, much tougher to stay there. The Bears are the favorite to win back-to-back titles, but every team in America will be gunning for them. Can they handle the "defending national champion" bull's-eye?

3. Kentucky: In a league filled with powerhouse programs, Kentucky has emerged among the best. The Wildcats have advanced to the Elite Eight twice in the past three seasons and return four starters from last year's SEC championship team that just missed making the Final Four.

4. Connecticut: Last season was supposed to be a rebuilding year, and the Huskies still advanced to the Final Four. Losing the Big East regular-season title to Notre Dame and not making the NCAA championship game will only fuel the desire to be better for this perennial power.

5. Maryland: The Terps return four starters from last year's team that won 31 games and have added the nation's No. 1 post player, Malina Howard.

2012-13 women's college basketball preview 11/03/12 [Last modified: Sunday, November 4, 2012 12:55am]
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