Duke and Rutgers headline 08-09 women’s schedule

New coach Tonya Cardoza, taking over for local legend Dawn Staley, will have her hands full with some of the country’s best teams, as well the usual slate of Big 5 and A-10 contests.

Hoping to return to the Atlantic Ten Conference Championship and reach the NCAA Tournament for a third consecutive season, the women’s basketball team will have the opportunity to flex its muscles or fall flat with a new lineup during the 2008-2009 season.

Welcome to Temple
Replacing a legend like Dawn Staley, who left Temple for South Carolina after eight years, is no small task. But first-year coach Tonya Cardoza is up for the challenge. Her first game at the helm is at the Liacouras Center on Nov. 14, when the Owls host Bowling Green.

Sophomore guard Lindsay Kimmel and the rest of the women’s basketball team have a tough schedule this season that includes a seven-game road trip (TTN File Photo).

Tournament Tough
The Owls have the opportunity, or tough task, of facing six teams who were in the NCAA Tournament last March. That includes Sweet 16 teams Duke, Rutgers and George Washington. If the Owls can tough out a few of these games, or even stay close, it can help their standing in the polls.

Revenge on their minds
Temple will have two dates circled on its calendar, as it hopes to erase bad memories from last season. The Owls were embarrassed by Rutgers 70-34 in late December and fell to Xavier 47-42 in an ugly A-10 Championship game. The Owls play the Scarlet Knights at home on Dec. 1 and also host the rival Musketeers on Feb. 25.

Pack your bags
A seven-game road trip from the middle of December to early January gives Cardoza and her new team a chance to build chemistry. However, it also could be overwhelming for a team that lost its two best players to graduation and now have just two seniors on the roster.

March your engines
The Owls begin the month of March by hosting GW to end their season. This game could have a meaningful impact on the A-10 standings for both teams. Don’t expect anything less than a competitive match between these two rivals. It could be a must-win for the Owls, as a healthy mix of NCAA Tournament teams and a three-week road trip during the season could prove daunting.

Pete Dorchak can be reached at pdorchak@temple.edu.

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