5 favorite teams to watch
1. Connecticut: The good news for college basketball? Maya Moore is a senior. She hasn't lost since her freshman year at the Final Four in Tampa, but much of her supporting cast is gone, save for Lakeland's Tiffany Hayes. Hard to imagine them going undefeated — if you want Final Four previews, the Huskies play host to Baylor in Hartford on Nov. 16 and travel to face Stanford on Dec. 30.
2. Baylor: It starts with 6-8 shot-blocking phenom Brittney Griner, and the Bears get two solid 6-1 transfers in Destiny Williams (Illinois) and Brooklyn Pope (Rutgers). There's no shortage of cool names (freshman G Odyssey Sims). Coach Kim Mulkey's daughter, Makenzie Robertson, could make a splash.
3. Stanford: Another star who fell short in Tampa as a freshman, 6-4 senior Kayla Pedersen, has one last shot at a national title. There's not one but two Ogwumikes, as 6-3 freshman Chiney joins big sister Nnemkadi for a formidable frontcourt. With Tina Charles gone from UConn, could Stanford's size inside be the difference if they meet again in April?
4. Tennessee: Three years without a national title? The seniors who were freshmen in Tampa — such as Gs Angie Bjorklund and Sydney Smallbone — join experienced size inside in 6-4 Vicki Baugh and 6-6 Kelley Cain. Pat Summitt went 32-3 last year on a team with no seniors, and look out for another emerging star in forward Alyssia Brewer.
5. Duke: Joanne McCallie's squad got an ACC crown and made the Elite Eight last year, and she brought in the nation's No. 1 recruiting class, so senior guard Jasmine Thomas will try to build chemistry quickly with talented future stars like guards Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston and 6-3 wing Haley Peters.
St. Petersburg Times staff writer Greg Auman previews the women's season:
1. Maya Moore, Sr., F, UConn.
Can she get a third national title after back-to-back 39-0 seasons? She's already in the Huskies' career top five for scoring and rebounding, but much of her supporting cast from last year is gone. Expect her scoring to rise from her career average of 18.7 points as a result.
2. Brittney Griner, So., C, Baylor.
She set an NCAA record by averaging 6.4 blocks and showed similar dominance on the offensive end, averaging 18.4 points. Coach Kim Mulkey says she's even stronger, so now you have an 88-inch wingspan with some muscle behind it.
3. Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Jr., F, Stanford.
The Pac-10 player of the year went off for 38 points in a national semifinal win against Oklahoma but was held to 11 points on 5-for-14 shooting in the championship loss to UConn. Expect a double double, and unless the Huskies' freshmen show poise beyond their years, she could be the one cutting down the nets in the end.
4. Danielle Robinson, Sr., G, Oklahoma.
The Sooners will always have (Courtney) Paris, but a new era will build around the 5-9 guard, who averaged 16.8 points and 5.3 assists last season.
5. Bria Hartley, Fr., PG, UConn.
Probably haven't heard of her, but you will by March, as the talented freshman from North Babylon, N.Y., will have a chance to take the Huskies' reins after Caroline Doty's knee injury. She averaged 30 points in high school, but UConn might need her passing more than her scoring.