1. GETTING HEALTHY, STAYING HEALTHY: Florida lost three players to ACL injuries last season but had enough depth to overcome that obstacle. This season, with as many newcomers as veterans, the Gators need to avoid serious injuries altogether. They also need the three players to come back strong. Tampa native Sherisha Hills has not played in either preseason game. Sophomore guard Kelly Stevenson is ahead of the rest in physical rehabilitation but still isn't at full strength. Before her injury, Tara Taylor showed signs of becoming a star, so Florida needs her to recover completely.
2. LEADERSHIP: The past two seasons Brandi McCain has battled injuries, having missed at least one game each season. With Toombi Bell gone, all McCain's counterparts are rookies, so she must be the indisputable leader. McCain returns to the point, where she proved during her freshman season that she was capable of running the show without being just a scorer, setting a school single-game assist record. This is McCain's team and the Gators need her to play with that mentality.
3. CRASH THE BOARDS: Courtney Cooper led the nation in rebounding two years at Miami-Dade Community College and posted a double double in the Gators' final preseason game (12 points, 15 rebounds). It's said that Cooper can leap out of the gym when going for a rebound. The Gators lost their leading rebounder in Naomi Mobley, who quit the team, so Florida needs Cooper to step in and do what she does best.
4. RULE THE PAINT: Sophomore center Vanessa Hayden showed last season that she had the talent. Now, with a new health regimen, she seems to have the stamina to be a factor late in the game. Florida needs Hayden to dominate in the paint. In two exhibitions, she has shown signs she's ready to do that.
5. SURVIVING THE SCHEDULE: As if being in the SEC isn't tough enough, Florida also plays Tulane, Texas, Wisconsin and Colorado, all Top 25 teams. MAC powerhouse Kent State also is on the schedule. Add the fact that this is the first season of a two-year rotation in which the Gators play Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi twice, and suddenly Florida's schedule becomes a huge factor.
_ Compiled by Antonya English.
NO. PLAYER POS. HT. CL. HOMETOWN COMMENTS
00 Ash'lea Moore G 5-3 So. Gainesville Walk-on played
season-high 10 minutes vs. Chicago St. in December.
1 Sherisha Hills G 5-8 Jr. Tampa Returns from
third ACL injury; still looking for full season with UF.
3 Tishona Gregory G 5-5 Fr. Romulus, Mich. First-team
Michigan All-State player, averaged 12 points, 6 assists.
5 Kelly Stevenson G 5-7 So. Ponte Vedra Beach Transfer
from JU tore ACL in preseason drills last September.
11 Brandi McCain G 5-3 Sr. Silsbee, Texas Preseason
All-American, considered one of best guards in nation.
12 Tara Taylor G 5-10 Fr. Huntsville, AL Returns after
tearing ACL in left knee during last preseason.
13 Trish Patterson F/C 6-2 Jr. Toronto Miami-Dade transfer
who averaged 14.1 points and 10.3 rebounds.
23 Tamia Williams G/F 6-0 Fr. West Palm Beach Scored
1,411 points at Palm Beach Gardens High, averaging 13.4.
24 Courtney Cooper G/F 5-9 Jr. Miami Miami-Dade C.C.
transfer led nation in rebounding both years there.
25 Monique Cardenas G/F 6-0 Sr. Keystone Heights Blue-collar
player, one of two to play in all 30 games last season.
34 Lindsey DeLoach G 5-10 Sr. Orlando Walk-on earned
scholarship last spring; played in 15 games last season.
55 Vanessa Hayden C 6-4 So. Orlando A combination of
size, strength and agility inside.