ESPN.com - ESPNINC/MAGAZINE - Jenkins' preseason top 10: No. 7 Rutgers

 Tuesday, October 24
No. 7 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
 
 By Sally Jenkins
ESPN The Magazine

Editor's note: ESPN.com won't unveil its women's college basketball preview until November. In the meantime, gear up for the new season with Dick Vitale's preseason top 10. Check back each weekday as we count down to No. 1, which will be featured Oct. 30.

Coach: C. Vivian Stringer, sixth year, 101-56 (621-191 overall)
Last season: 26-8 (12-4); Final Four (lost to Tennessee 64-54)

Who to watch: Tasha Pointer
The senior point guard, who averaged 5.5 assists per game and shot a more than respectable 46.8 percent from the field, is "the heart, soul and guts of our team," Stringer says. "I have yet to see her have a bad day. Anything we do has to go through her. If she wills it, we win."

Overview: It took coach Vivian Stringer just five years to lead the Scarlet Knights to the Final Four, and now she says, "our expectations are even higher."

Tasha Pointer
Tasha Pointer led Rutgers to the Final Four last season.
They lost only one starter, but she was a major impact player: WNBA draft choice Shawnetta Stewart. Sixth-man extraordinaire Usha Gilmore was also drafted by the WNBA and will be missed.

On the bright side, Rutgers does have five seniors back, including Pointer and center Tammy Sutton-Brown. Pointer is the point guard and leader, but will need to step up her scoring (9.7 ppg in 1999-2000) to make up for the loss of Stewart and Gilmore. Sutton-Brown, who spent her summer playing for the Canadian Olympic team, averaged only 9.1 points last season and clearly has yet to live up to her potential. If Pointer can bring out the best in Sutton-Brown, however, not many centers will be able to guard her.

Rutgers also has to lead the nation in basketball Olympians, as juco transfer Fatime Ndiaye represented Senegal in Sydney. Forward Linda Miles is the team's top returning rebounder, and spearheaded the nation's best defensive team (a mantle conceded by Tennessee).

If the Scarlet Knights' offense develops to complement that defense, they could give UConn nightmares in the Big East.

PRESEASON ROSTER
Name Pos Ht/Yr PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
Tasha Pointer* G 5-6/Sr. 9.7 4.6 5.5 46.8 68.5
Tammy Sutton-Brown* C 6-4/Sr. 9.1 5.1 0.3 51.9 62.7
Linda Miles* G-F 6-0/Sr. 6.5 5.4 1.9 48.4 71.2
Davalyn Cunningham* F 6-0/Jr. 5.4 3.4 0.7 46.1 59.6
Karlita Washington G 5-9/Sr. 5.0 1.7 1.3 43.5 67.6
Christina Fowler G 5-9/Jr. 4.1 1.9 0.8 34.4 70.6
Kourtney Walton G-F 6-0/So. 2.3 0.9 0.4 40.0 54.5
Dana Boonen C 6-5/Sr. 1.7 0.6 0.2 48.3 53.8
Mauri Horton G 5-8/So. 0.6 0.5 0.3 21.7 25.0
Fatime Ndiaye F 6-2/Jr. Midland (Texas) JC
Mandakova Clark G 5-8/Fr. Pikesville, Md. (Milford Mill)
Nikki Jett G 5-11/Fr. Columbia, S.C.
Dawn McCullouch G 5-9/Fr. Long Beach, Calif. (Wilson)
* Returning starter

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: ALL POINTER, ALL THE TIME

Tasha Pointer makes the steal and layin:
56.6 | ISDN | T1

Tasha Pointer cuts through the defense for the hoop:
56.6 | ISDN | T1

Tasha Pointer slices two defenders for the layup:
56.6 | ISDN | T1
 



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Stringer's son recovering from auto accident

Jenkins' preseason top 10: No. 10 LSU

Jenkins' preseason top 10: No. 9 Virginia

Jenkins' preseason top 10: No. 8 Texas Tech