#19 North Carolina Women's Basketball Preview

North Carolina Tar Heels

Overall Rank: #19
Conference Rank: #4 ACC
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Sylvia  Hatchell has established a  tremendous run of consistency at North Carolina with 587 wins in 24 seasons and another talented team coming back to build off a Sweet 16 run where they lost to national semifinalist Stanford. The Tar Heels will be young but ready to battle a very challenging ACC slate with powers Duke, Miami and Maryland being the primary obstacles in the way of a conference championship in 2011-12.

2010-11: 28-9, 8-6
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Sylvia Hatchell (587-223 at North Carolina, 859-303 overall)

Who’s Out:
The loss of Jessica Breland hurts as she was the heart of the Tar Heel squad. She also averaged just over 12 points a game and seven rebounds so she will be challenge to replace on both ends of the floor.  Her leadership and inspiration will be missed even more as she has battled cancer and still found a way to produce at a high level. Italee Lucas was the engine that drove the backcourt. Replacing her 16 plus points per game will not be an easy task.

Who’s In:
This freshman class is absolutely loaded in the backcourt starting with Madness top recruits Brittany Rountree and Megan Buckland. Rountree should compete immediately for starting time in the backcourt at the point guard spot and Buckland should play immediately as well at the two guard for the Tar Heels. Both are projected to be very explosive players. The incoming class also includes Danielle Butts and Whitney Adams who appear on the Madness top recruit list.

Who to Watch:
Chay Shegog will be huge down in the post. Look for her numbers to take off with the graduation of Jessica Breland. If she can put up near double double numbers, it will open up things a lot for Carolina. Laura Broomfield and Krista Gross return along the front line to give some much needed experience to guide what projects to be a very young backcourt. Getting more scoring from Gross will be a huge bonus as well.

Final Projection:
The out of conference schedule is not too bad as a trip to Storrs to play perennial powerhouse UConn in January is the biggest hurdle in front of the Tar Heels. They will be in a slugfest within the conference as Duke and Miami are loaded with talent. Maryland’s young team is rounding into form under Brenda Frese so they will be difficult and you never know what Virginia will do with a fresh start under Joanne Boyle. But one staple of the Carolina women’s basketball is program is having a lot of talented athletic players who can beat you at any tempo and this season should not be any different. Coach Hatchell should rack up her 600th win in Chapel Hill by mid-season and another top five type of seeding and a run to the Sweet 16/Elite Eight should occur once again.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, Junior, Guard, 9.5 PPG
Brittany Rountree, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Laura Broomfield, Junior, Forward, 8.0 PPG
Krista Gross, Junior, Forward, 4.2PPG
Chay Shegog, Senior, Forward/Center 8.9 PPG

Madness 2012 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#35 Chay Shegog

Madness 2011 Women's Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#47 Brittany Roundtree
#55 Megan Buckland
#77 Danielle Butts
#106 Whitney Adams