1. NEWCOMERS: New players will fill major roles everywhere. Two have experience. Forward Sonia Cotton played for two seasons at Florida International before sitting out last season as a transfer. She'll likely be the No. 2 scorer. Dione Smith was the USF point guard for three years before sitting out last season and is a defensive pest. Guard/forward Jen Kline is the most likely of four freshmen to have an instant impact. Point guard Tristen Webb, shooting guard Alana Tanksley and center/forward Allison AuBuchon also will play extensively.
2. CHEMISTRY: It's a given that any good team must have productive interaction among teammates and coaches, but with six of the 10 players new to the team, it will be more of an issue for the Bulls. So far, so good. The team has played hard and cohesively in a scrimmage against Saint Leo and a preseason game against Premier Players.
3. QUICK START: A weak nonconference schedule is exactly what a team coming off a 4-24 season needs. The Bulls should reach last season's win total by the time they host Florida on Dec. 8. The rapid-fire early victories should provide an instant infusion of confidence, if USF gets the wins. If the Bulls stumble early against lesser foes, it could be a long season.
4. COACHING: Coach Jose Fernandez inherited a program in disrepair and quickly has made significant strides, especially with regard to enhancing the program's image and recruiting. The jury still is out on his coaching ability, since he had little to work with last season. Fernandez frequently will use fullcourt pressure, in part to mask his team's lack of size. Expect the Bulls to add at least 15 points a game to last season's average of 55.7.
5. THE GO-TO PLAYER: USF has a legitimate one in junior shooting guard Aiya Shepard. Last season she was the bright light, averaging 17.9 points, and she's better this year. Several times against Premier Players, Fernandez ordered a clear out for Shepard, who has a knack for creating her own shot. She also averaged 3.1 steals last season.
_ Compiled by Pete Young.
NO. PLAYER POS. HT. CL. HOMETOWN COMMENT
5 Tristen Webb PG 5-8 Fr. Stone Mountain +Part of the
four-pack of freshmen recruits who could rejuvenate the program.
11 Sonia Cotton F/G 5-11 Jr. Carol City Fluid
offensive player who played two seasons at Florida International.
12 Sarah Lochmann F/C 5-11 So. Dublin, Ohio Undersized,
heady post player who battles for points and rebounds.
15 Jen Kline G/F 6-1 Fr. Henderson, Nev. Adept three-
point shooter; also can go inside despite slight frame.
20 Melissa Tape PG 5-6 So. Toowoomba ++ Import from
Down Under will battle Webb and Smith for playing time.
21 Dione Smith PG 5-5 Sr. Tallahassee Strong
defensive player who should thrive in fullcourt pressure schemes.
23 Alana Tanksley G/F 5-8 Fr. Acworth, Ga. Versatile
offensive player comes with high rating from recruiting services.
33 Aiya Shepard SG 5-7 Jr. Palestine, Texas Indispens-
able; Bulls' top player on offense and defense.
44 Allison AuBuchon C/F 6-0 Fr. Stillwater, Minn. Back from
academic suspension; will be a factor when she gets in the flow.
54 Ashley Teets C 6-2 Jr. Seymour, Tenn. Improved
fitness and athleticism should translate into better production.