Sophomores shoot to head of the class
It's a new year, and in some parts of college basketball, the new blood is making its mark. In the quest to highlight the class of each class in the women's game this season, we're looking at the top sophomores:
1. Odyssey Sims, Baylor. Sims has been the perfect complement to Brittney Griner at Baylor, a confident, talented backcourt player who provides most of the outside scoring in the Bears' inside-outside punch. Sims is one of only two sophomores in the country who were on the World University Games roster last summer. The other was ...
2. Chiney Ogwumike, Stanford. She might be playing in the shadow of her All-American sister, but big sis Nneka Ogwumike might be the only player in the nation who is more athletic in the paint than Chiney.
3. Shoni Schimmel, Louisville. Schimmel, who has been in the national spotlight because of her family's move off an Oregon reservation to help her get recruited, is living up to her inspiring story. She is averaging a team-leading 14 points and 4.9 assists a game for the 12-2 Cardinals. She recently ended a run of 16 straight games with a 3-pointer.
4. Bria Hartley, Connecticut. On a team with four starters scoring in double figures, Hartley, a second-year guard, is keeping pace. She ranks second on the Huskies at 14.5 points a game and leads the team in minutes on the floor, averaging more than 30 per game.
5. Maggie Lucas, Penn State. Lucas is having the kind of season that's going to make her a star, averaging 19.1 points for the resurgent Lions, who are 11-3.
Five for the marquee
1. Doug Bruno, DePaul. The Blue Demons' head coach, one of the stalwart figures in the women's game, notched the 500th win of his career over the weekend against Northern Illinois. All 500 wins have come at DePaul.
2. Glory Johnson, Tennessee. The Lady Vols senior forward put up consecutive double-doubles last week in wins over Old Dominion and Auburn. While Shekinna Stricklen is widely regarded as the Lady Vols' best player, Johnson is the one who could make the difference in a long postseason run for UT.
3. Samantha Prahalis and Tayler Hill, Ohio State. The Buckeyes' backcourt of Prahalis and Hill served notice to the rest of the Big Ten on Monday, combining for 58 points in an 84-71 win over Iowa and the program's best start (15-0) during the NCAA era.
4. LSU. The Tigers, under new head coach Nikki Caldwell, have a seven-game win streak going, their longest since they won nine games to open the 2009-10 season. LSU is doing it with rebounding (outrebounding its last eight opponents) and defense, allowing just 46.9 points per game.
5. Notre Dame. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't competitive, but it was record-breaking. In a 128-42 win over Mercer, the Irish set school records for the biggest margin of victory, most free throws attempted (52) and made (43), and points in a half (72). They also matched the best shooting night in program history, hitting 70.2 percent of their shots from the floor.
Five names you should know (but probably don't)
1. Jazmine Perkins, Washington State. The senior guard posted back-to-back double-doubles to lead the Cougars to their first 2-0 start in conference play since 2000-01. Washington State (8-6) has already matched its win total from last season. Perkins averaged 13 points and 13.5 rebounds in a road sweep of Oregon and Oregon State.
2. Ebony Rowe, Middle Tennessee. The Lexington, Ky., native put up a huge performance in the Blue Raiders' upset of then-No. 6 Kentucky, finishing with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
3. Chelsea Poppens, Iowa State. The junior forward propelled her team to the championship in their holiday tournament last week, averaging 16.5 points and 14.5 rebounds in victories over New Hampshire and Buffalo. Poppens is the nation's No. 3 rebounder and she leads the Big 12 -- no small feat in a conference that includes Brittney Griner.
4. Anna Martin, DePaul. Martin passed the 1,000-point mark for her career and put up 30 points in the Blue Demon's 65-46 win over Northern Illinois over the weekend. Martin hadn't scored 30 points in a game since her freshman season.
5. South Carolina. Dawn Staley's Gamecocks are not one of the bigger names in the SEC, yet are playing as well as anyone. Their six-game win streak is their longest since 2005-06, and at 12-2 they have their best opening record since 2002-03. South Carolina ranks No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 44.6 points a game.