Baylor a 'new team' looking to gel

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson doesn't see No. 6 Baylor as a target for opponents because of its national championship.
She sees a team trying to meld the talents of five newcomers
with three returning starters, including Sophia Young, a pre-season
All-America and last year's Final Four MVP. Guard Chameka Scott and forward Abiola Wabara also return from Baylor's 33-3 team.
"We understand we are not the same team," Mulkey-Robertson
said. "We look at it as a new team finding an identity."
The Lady Bears open the State Farm Tip-Off Classic against No. 8
Georgia on Sunday. No. 13 Texas Tech takes on No. 3 LSU and
pre-season All-American Seimone Augustus in the second game of the
one-day event.
Baylor also will be without Emily Niemann, who scored 19 points
and made five 3-pointers in an 84-62 victory against Michigan State
in the national title game. She transferred to UC Santa Barbara
over the summer. Also missing will be Young's dynamic frontcourt
sidekick, Steffanie Blackmon, who graduated.
The Lady Bulldogs, who opened the 2000 season against defending
national champion Connecticut, should go a long way with 6-3 Tasha
Humphrey in the middle.
"We're an experienced basketball team," said coach Andy
Landers. "Night in, night out, Tasha Humphrey is as good as it
Humphrey underwent surgery after last season's 24-10 finish to
remove scar tissue on tendons in her feet.
"Her treatment this summer seems to have worked," Landers
said. "She gets better day by day."
In the tournament's second game, the Lady Raiders will face an
LSU team that has reached the last two Final Fours behind Augustus,
last year's national player of the year. She averaged 20.1 points
last season.
She's known for her fluid moves off the dribble and her accurate
pull-up jumper. And she's been busy working on other dimensions of
her game, including 3-point shooting.
Tech, which finished 24-8 last season, has three returning
starters, including preseason all-Big 12 choice Erin Grant. This
summer Grant played with Augustus on the USA Basketball Women's
World University Games team.
LSU coach Pokey Chatman, whose team went 33-3 last season,
coached the guards on the team and knows Grant's talent. During
workouts, Chapman said, she kiddingly told Grant, "I can't teach
you too much," knowing that the two teams were matched up for
Sunday's event.
"They're obviously key people on their team," Chapman said.
"Their personality and how they affect their team, it's an easy
parallel to draw."
Tech will start freshman LaVonda Henderson in place of senior
guard Chesley Dabbs, who was lost for the season this week with a
torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial meniscus in her left
Grant was the last Tech freshman to start a season opener, and
it was at the Tip-Off Classic in 2002 at Knoxville, Tenn., when the
Lady Raiders lost 85-76 to Louisiana Tech.
"It'll be a great opportunity for us to play a great basketball
team," Tech coach Marsha Sharp said. "I think from our
perspective, we've got to be hitting on all cylinders."