1. Without Candice Dupree, can the Owls survive in the A-10?
YES – Her replacement, Lady Comfort, has worked tirelessly in the offseason to ensure a smooth transition. She has waited in Dupree’s shadow for two seasons and is ready to improve on her 7.4 points-per-game average from a year ago.
NO – Opposing teams double- and triple-teamed Dupree, leaving several Temple players open on the court. Those open shots will disappear until Comfort proves she can stay out of foul trouble and consistently put up big numbers.
2. Is Fatima Maddox the answer at point guard?
YES – The Owls hardly missed a beat when Maddox filled in for an injured Jen Owens last season. Maddox owns a better shot than Owens and her speed pushes the tempo of the Owls’ slow-paced offense.
NO – Maddox stepped in for starter Jen Owens last season, but will come up short in 2007. Maddox, who had two more turnovers (48) than assists (46) in 24 games, doesn’t have the same court vision as her predecessor.
3. With no better than a single second-round NCAA Tournament appearance, have the players grown complacent under Dawn Staley?
YES – Staley often complained last season that her players were not playing with enough heart. Staley said she was uncertain which team would show up for games – the determined group that upset Georgia and Rutgers or the lackadaisical squad that lost to Stony Brook and Richmond.
NO – If winning the A-10 title and advancing to the NCAA Tournament three straight years is complacent, then that’s the Owls. They have likely exceeded Staley’s expectations in her first six years as coach and will continue to do so.
4. Will Jasmine Stone (19.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg in high school) blossom into an immediate-impact player?
YES – With her credentials, it isn’t any wonder how she can’t blossom. Her numbers in high school were better than Dupree’s, and we all know how that worked out for the Owls. Stone is the real deal.
NO – Few freshmen enter the conference and dominate. Stone won’t be the exception. She has to adjust the quicker and more physical play of college ball. She’s got the talent to emerge as one of the league’s biggest stars, but not this year.
5. Is Kamesha Hairston the A-10’s top player?
YES – If Hairston isn’t yet, she will be soon. The Owls offense revolved around Dupree last season. As the Owls’ second option, Hairston averaged 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds a game. Those numbers can only increase now that she is the focus of the offense.
NO – That honor goes to George Washington’s Kimberly Beck. In addition to her 11.4 points per game in ’06, Beck became the first player in A-10 history to lead the conference in assists in back-to-back years. She also has thrust the Colonials to a preseason ranking.