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Women's district college basketball preview

| Friday, Oct. 17, 2008

Pitt

Coach: Agnus Berenato

Coach's record: 372-330 (.530)

2007-08 record: 24-11 (.686)

Season opener: Nov. 15 vs. Western Kentucky

Returning starters: 4 (Xenia Stewart, 6-0, Sr., G; Sophronia Sallard, 5-10, Jr., G/F; Jania Sims, 5-7, Jr., G; Shavonte Zellous, 5-11, Sr., G)

Newcomers: 4 (Kate Popovec, 6-3, Fr. C; Sarah Ogoke, 5-8, Fr., G; Brittaney Thomas, 5-8, Jr., G; Shawnice Wilson, 6-6, Fr., C)

Outlook: Last season, Pitt advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history. If Pitt hopes to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season, the Panthers must fill the void left by the departed duo of Mercedes Walker (15.9 points per game, 9.6 rebounds per game) and Mallorie Winn (15.8 ppg). Pitt has plenty of returning guards ready to take over for Winn, most notably Stewart (8.8 ppg, 3.1 assists per game) and Sims (7.7 ppg). With little depth up front, the Panthers will find it difficult to replace Walker. However, Pitt may expect an immediate contribution from 6-foot-6 freshman center Wilson, a Westinghouse graduate and 2007-08 City League Player of the Year.

Duquesne

Coach: Suzie McConnell-Serio

Coach's record: 15-15 (.500)

2007-08 record: 15-15 (.500)

Season opener: Nov. 14 vs. Morehead State

Returning starters: 3 (Kristi Little, 5-4, Sr., G; Samantha Pollino, 6-0, So., F; Keri Pryor, Jr., G)

Newcomers: 4 (Jackie Babe, 5-9, Fr., G; Alex Gensler, 5-11, Fr., F; Rachel Frederick, 5-11, Jr., G; Eve Pyle, 6-1, Jr., F)

Outlook: In her first season as coach, McConnell-Serio led Duquesne to a 15-15 record. This season, the Dukes will be led by senior point guard Kristi Little, whose 16.3 points per game ranked third in the Atlantic 10 Conference last season. Also returning to Duquesne's backcourt are juniors Keri Pryor (9.8 ppg) and Sam Thompson (2.5 ppg). Sophomore forwards Samantha Pollino (10.6 ppg) and Kelly Britcher will provide the backbone of a young but improving frontcourt. The Dukes also welcome two transfers -- Frederick, a former Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year at Ohio who averaged 13.7 points per game last season, and Pyle, who averaged 6.5 rebounds per game two seasons ago at Miami (Ohio) and is a former Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Player of the Year.

Penn State

Coach: Coquese Washington

Coach's record: 13-18 (.419)

2007-08 record: 13-18 (.419)

Season opener: Nov. 16 vs. South Carolina

Returning starters: 4 (Tyra Grant, 5-11, Jr., G, Rashida Mark, 6-2, Sr., F/C; Brianne O'Rourke, 5-6, Sr., G; Mashea Williams, 5-10, Sr., G)

Newcomers: 3 (Zhaque Gray, 5-6, Fr., G; Emily Phillips, 5-4, Fr., G; Renee Womack, 5-8, Fr., G)

Outlook: After leading the Big Ten in assists a year ago, O'Rourke (4.74 assists per game) will take the reigns of the Nittany Lions offense this season. O'Rourke will be complemented at guard by junior Tyra Grant (13.8 points per game) and Mashea Williams, who last season set career highs in scoring (280), assists (73) and rebounding (115). After starting 21 games last season, Mark will take on an increased role in managing the Nittany Lions' frontcourt.

Robert Morris

Coach: Sal Buscaglia

Coach's record: 577-261 (.689)

2007-08 record: 23-10 (.697)

Season opener: Nov. 14 at Xavier (WNIT)

Returning starters: 3 (Sade Logan, 6-0, Sr., G; Kendra Williams, 5-7 Sr., G; Grace Williams, 6-1, Sr., F)

Newcomers: 7 (Monet Johnson, 5-11, Jr., F; Mary Durojaye, 6-2, Fr., C; Monica Jones, 5-10, Jr., F; Aqueelah Watkins, 5-10, Jr., F; Bianca Hooten 5-11, So., G; Latavia Vails, 6-1, Jr., F; Gianna Woods, 6-0, Fr., F)

Outlook: After leading Robert Morris to 3-24 record in his first season as coach in 2003-04, Sal Buscaglia has led the Colonials to consecutive Northeast Conference championships.

West Virginia

Coach: Mike Carey

Coach's record: 420-188 (.691)

2007-08 record: 25-8 (.758)

Season opener: Nov. 15 vs. Longwood

Returning starters: 1 (Ashley Powell, 5-6, Sr., G)

Newcomers: 10 (Madina Ali, 6-0, Jr., F; Natalie Burton, 6-5, Jr., F; Jessica Capers, 6-1, Fr., F; Dominique Dixon, 5-8, Fr., G; Takisha Granberry, 5-11, Jr., G; Vanessa House, 5-7, Jr., G; Amanda Keehan, 6-1, Fr., F; Kasonna Samms, 6-0, Jr., G; Alexandra Sanabria, 5-9, Jr., G; Tracy Wittebolle, 6-4, Jr., C)

Outlook: This season, West Virginia will be without its top-five scorers from last season, who carried the Mountaineers to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Only three players return from last season's team, but that list does include Powell (142 assists). Fortunately for West Virginia, Carey is no stranger to rebuilding. In 2003-04, Carey was named Big East Conference Coach of the Year after guiding West Virginia to the second-best turnaround in league history.

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