The official top 25 polls won't be released for several more weeks. But in the meantime, Duke, LSU and Tennessee have been tabbed as the preseason favorites.
With less than two months remaining before the 2005-06 season gets under way, Lindy's Magazine picked Duke as its top team over No. 2 Tennesseee. The teams flip-flopped positions in Slam Magazine, which ranked the Lady Vols No. 1 ahead of the Blue Devils.
Defending NCAA champion Baylor was fifth in Lindy's and sixth in Slam. LSU, which returns national player of the year Seimone Augustus and is coming off of back-to-back Final Four appearances, was 10th in Lindy's and fourth in Slam.
In the Athlon poll which also was recently published, LSU was No. 1, followed by Duke, Ohio State and Tennessee.
Augustus also headlined Lindy's 2005-06 preseason All-America squad. Also making the team were Duke's Monique Currie, Stanford's Candice Wiggins, Ohio State's Jessica Davenport and Baylor's Sophia Young, who was named the Most Outstanding Player at the 2005 Final Four in Indianapolis.
The Blue Devils advanced to the Elite Eight for the fourth straight season in 2004-05 before falling to LSU, 59-49, in he NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils return seven of eight letterwinners including all five starters -- guard/forward Currie, guard Wanisha Smith, guard Jessica Foley, forward Mistie Williams and center Alison Bales. The Blue Devils also welcome back former starting point guard Lindsey Harding, Colorado transfer Emily Waner and returning letterwinners Chante Black and Laura Kurz.
Duke also brought in the second-best recruiting class in the nation, which includes Gatorade and McDonald's National Player of the Year Abby Waner, McDonald's All-America Carrem Gay, Parade All-America Keturah Jackson and Brittany Mitch. That is expected to give Duke its deeepest squad in school history with 13 student-athletes. Coach Gail Goestenkors enters her 14th year with Duke and owns a 333-93 over her career with the Blue Devils.
Currie, who enters her final season at Duke, was the 2005 ACC Player of the Year, and as the conference's only player to rank in the top 15 in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals, averaged 17.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.1 steals and hit 31.7 percent from 3-point land last season.
She scored 20 or more points 13 times, reached double figures in 35 of 36 games and collected eight double-doubles.
The Lady Vols are coming off a 30-5 campaign in 2004-05 and finished the season at the Final Four in Indianapolis where Tennessee lost in the semifinals to Michigan State, 68-64. Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, who surpassed Dean Smith to become the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history last March, starts her 32nd season in Knoxville with a career mark that stands at 882-172.
Summitt welcomes back 10 players, including 6-foot-3 redshirt freshman forward Candace Parker. Tennessee's lone signee on the 11-player roster is 6-1 guard Lindsey Moss of Alpharetta, Ga.
Senior guard Shanna Zolman returns as the Lady Vols' leading scorer with a 12.5 average, while 6-4 sophomore post Nicky Anosike brings back the team's best rebounding mark at 6.1 boards per game.
Second-year coach Pokey Chatman leads LSU into the 2005-06 season. Augustus, who averaged 20.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game last season, is joined by fellow seniors Scholanda Hoston and Florence Williams as returners. Also back is the SEC's 6th Women of the Year, Sylvia Fowles. Fowles, a 6-6 center from Miami, Fla., averaged 11.8 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game.
Chatman, the 2004-05 national coach of the year, said the Lady Tigers' schedule this season is "by far the toughest in the history of LSU women's basketball." LSU faces 10 opponents that finished last season ranked in the top 15, beginning with a trip to Lubbock, Texas, to face nationally ranked Texas Tech as part of the State Farm Hall of Fame Tip-off Classic on Nov. 13.