Putting the Guards Up

Skylar Diggins
Notre Dame
Jr. | G | 5-9 

Key Notes:
• 2011 All-American
• 2011 national championship runner-up
• Averaged 15 ppg and 4.8 apg last season

Shenise Johnson
Sr. | G | 5-11 

Key Notes:
• 2011 All-American
• 2011 ACC Player of the Year
• First in the ACC in free throw percentage (.846) in 2010-11

Shekinna Stricklen
Sr. | G/F | 6-2 

Key Notes:
• 2011 All-American
• Averaged 12.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 2.8 apg in 2010-11
• Named the SEC Player of the Year last season

Tiffany Hayes
Sr. | G | 5-10 

Key Notes:
• All-Big East First Team in 2010-11
• Had 116 assists, 52 steals and averaged 13.7 ppg and 4.6 rpg last season

Sugar Rodgers
Jr. | G | 5-11

Key Notes:
• Averaged 18.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.4 apg and had 90 steals in 2010-11 
• Ranked second in Big East in ppg last season


Brittney Griner
Jr. | F | 6-8

Key Notes:
• 2011 All-American
• Enters season with 40 consecutive double-figure scoring games
• Named 2011 Defensive Player of the Year

Nneka Ogwumike
Sr. | F | 6-2 

Key Notes:
• 2011 All-American
• Named to 2011 All-Pac-10 Team
• Led team with 17.5 ppg
• 2011 Wade Trophy finalist

Monique Reid
Sr. | F | 6-1

Key Notes:
• 2012 Lowe's Senior Class Award  candidate
• Led Cardinals in scoring last season with 15.5 ppg
• 2011 First Team All-Big East 

Cierra Bravard
Florida State
Sr. | F | 6-4

Key Notes:
• Led team in scoring (15.0 ppg), rebounding (7.8 rpg) in 2010-11
• 2010-11 field-goal percentage ranked third in the conference 

Keisha Hampton
Sr. | F | 6-2 

Key Notes:
• Earned All-Big East Championship team honors
• Finished junior season with 1,375 career points which ranks 14th all-time at DePaul

Keep an Eye on These Programs

Key Players:  Brittney Griner (Jr., F), Odyssey Sims (So., G), Kimetria Hayden (Jr., G).

Noting the Bears:  Baylor returns four starters (Odyssey Sims, Jordan Madden, Destiny Williams, Brittney Griner). The Lady Bears return 88.5 percent of their scoring and 89.9 percent of individual rebounds from last season’s 34-3 team. Head coach Kim Mulkey is nearing the 300 victory milestone; she has 298 in 11 years at Baylor. Despite being a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament last season, the Bears suffered an early departure falling to Texas A&M in the Elite Eight; Baylor had won the other three matchups against the Aggies in the regular season and conference tourney play. With only one freshman addition to the roster, the Bears will look to use depth and experience to rebound and make a run at a national championship.

Miami (Fla.)
Key Players:
Shenise Johnson (Sr., G), Riquna Williams (Sr., G), Morgan Stroman (Jr., F).

Noting the Hurricanes: The Hurricanes return their entire roster from last season, led by seniors Sylvia Bullock, Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams. The 2010-11 starters combined for 67.1 ppg, 28.1 rpg and 9.3 apg. The squad welcomes five new faces to the program, including junior college transfer Jessica Capers and Shawnice Wilson who transferred from Pittsburgh. Miami fell early in the NCAA tournament last season, but the Hurricanes will use their experienced squad along with their quick and versatile play to elevate to the next level this season. With Johnson and Williams, both preseason Wade Trophy candidates, the squad will be in good hands to do just that.

Notre Dame
Key Players:
Skylar Diggins (Jr., G), Devereaux Peters (Sr., F), Natalie Novosel (Sr., G).

Noting the Fighting Irish: Notre Dame, which finished last season with an appearance in the national championship game, returns nine letterwinners and four starters for a promising postseason chance in 2011-12. The returning starters paced the Fighting Irish with 49.1 ppg, 15.5 rpg and 7.5 assists last season. Diggins, Peters and Novosel have each led Notre Dame further each season in the NCAA tournament than the previous during their tenure. After last year's national runner-up status, the Fighting Irish have only one more step to make and it could be the year for them. Even though they are returning three players featured on the preseason Wade Trophy candidate list, head coach Muffet McGraw will still have to replace the consistent contributions of seniors Becca Bruszewski and Brittany Mallory.

Top Contests to Follow in 2011-12

Nov. 13 -- 2 p.m. ET: No. 11 Georgetown Hoyas at No. 10 Maryland Terrapins


Nov. 15 -- 4 p.m. ET: No. 9 Louisville Cardinals at No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies


Nov. 15 -- 6 p.m. ET: No. 7 Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes at No. 3 Tennessee Lady Vols


Nov. 21 -- 7 p.m. ET: No. 5 Stanford Cardinal at No. 4 Connecticut Huskies


Nov. 27 -- 2 p.m. ET: No. 1 Baylor Bears at No. 3 Tennessee Lady Vols


Dec. 6 -- 7 p.m. ET: No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies at No. 4 Connecticut Huskies


Dec. 8 -- 7 p.m. ET: No. 8 Duke Blue Devils at No. 15 Kentucky Wildcats


Dec. 18 -- 7 p.m. ET: No. 4 Connecticut Huskies at No. 1 Baylor Bears


Dec. 20 -- 7 p.m. ET: No. 3 Tennessee Lady Vols at No. 5 Stanford Cardinal


Jan. 2 -- 7 p.m. ET: No. 10 Maryland Terrapins at No. 13 Florida State Seminoles


Jan. 8 -- 3 p.m. ET: No. 16 Oklahoma Sooners at No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies


Jan. 23 -- 7 p.m. ET: No. 3 Tennessee Lady Vols at No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish


Jan. 26 -- 8 p.m. ET: No. 1 Baylor Bears at No. 16 Oklahoma Sooners


Feb. 20 -- 2 p.m. ET: No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at No. 9 Louisville Cardinals


Feb. 27 -- 9 p.m. ET: No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at No. 4 Connecticut Huskies

California State-Bakersfield Tim La Kose Greg McCall
Colgate Pamela Bass Nicci Hays-Fort
Elon Karen Barefoot Charlotte Smith
Fordham Cathy Andruzzi Stephanie Gaitley
High Point Tooey Loy Jennifer Hoover
LSU Van Chancellor Nikki Caldwell
Monmouth Stephanie Gaitley Jenny Palmateer
New Mexico State Darin Spence Mark Trakh
Old Dominion Wendy Larry Karen Barefoot
San Jose State Pam DeCosta Tim La Kose
Southeast Missouri State John Ishee Ty Margenthaler
Stony Brook Michele Cherry Beth O'Boyle
UCLA Nikki Caldwell Cori Close
UNC-Charlotte Karen Aston Cara Consuega
UNC-Greensboro Lynne Agee Wendy Palmer
Texas State Suzanne Fox Zenarae Antoine
California Joanne Boyle Lindsay Gottlieb
California-Davis Sandy Simpson Jennifer Gross
UC-Santa Barbara Lindsay Gottlieb Carlene Mitchell
Evansville Misty Murphy Oties Epps
Illinois-Chicago Lisa Ryckbosch Regina Miller
Maine Cindy Blodgett Richard Barron
New Mexico Don Flanagan Yvonne Sanchez
North Texas Shanice Stephens Karen Aston
Tulsa Charlene Thomas-Swinson Matilda Mossman
Utah Elaine Elliott Anthony Levrets
Virginia Debbie Ryan Joanne Boyle
Washington Tia Jackson Kevin McGuff
Wisconsin Lisa Stone Bobbie Kelsey
Virginia Tech Beth Dunkenberger Dennis Wolff
Weber State Carla Taylor Bethann Shapiro Ord
Western Illinois Leslie Crane JD Gravina
Winthrop Bud Childers Marlene Stollings
Xavier Kevin McGuff Amy Waugh

From the Sideline

Geno Auriemma
On losing Maya Moore and the upcoming season:

"We're not fortunate to have a retuning All-American. We're going to have to figure out as a group what we can do as a team rather than relying on the experience or talent level of an All-American. Having so many underclassmen in key roles will be a huge challenge. There are going to be times when it's not going to look great and times when it looks really good. That's the beauty of college basketball and college athletics. You always have new kids that you are trying to blend in with the older kids and you see what happens." 

Pat Summitt
On the Lady Vols tough schedule:

“That’s a good thing. Because I think, with this team, we have high expectations and we’ve got good leadership and as I’ve said, even our freshmen are stepping in right away. I’m really excited about this team and I know our staff is, so I think they are on a mission. Coaches are always on a mission but if you have players with the right mindset it goes a long way.”

Gary Blair
Texas A&M
On defending their national title:

"We're looking forward to defending the national championship. You don't talk about winning another one until you defend it the way a champion should. And I think that's our goal this year. Our kids are practicing hard. We're relatively healthy right now. But the most important thing, I haven't defended a whole lot of national championships before. But at the same time you feel good about yourself, you feel good about your accomplishments, but soon as you sit back and reflect on it, somebody's going to kick you in the butt and pass you by. 

Kim Mulkey
On motivation after falling early in tournament last season:

"I think when you have a goal to win a national championship and you don't reach that goal, that if you're any kind of a competitor, the hunger should be there. And it's there. Fortunately, we have the majority of our players back with the exception of the two seniors that we lost, which we all know the value of a Melissa Jones, you don't just replace her overnight. But I don't imagine that I'm going to have to do a lot of motivating to remind them that isn't it sad that a 34-3 record is not good enough."

All photos courtesy of respective school athletic departments.