COACH: Karen Barefoot (2nd season at ODU, 11-21; 15th season, 221-164)
OPENER: Nov. 9 at Virginia Tech.
5 GAMES TO WATCH: Nov. 17 vs. VCU; Jan. 2 vs. Pittsburgh; Jan. 13 vs. Delaware; Feb. 12 vs. James Madison; Feb. 21 vs. William and Mary.
STRENGTH: Depth. Last season, the Lady Monarchs went seven- or eight-deep and couldn't approach the style that Barefoot wanted to play. ODU returns three starters, led by Jackie Cook and CAA Rookie of the Year Ashley Betz-White. There are seven new players, counting Portuguese G Michelle Brandao, who sat out last season due to NCAA rules.
WEAKNESS: No established go-to scorer or inside presence. Barefoot believes that scorers and leaders will emerge, but she's banking on a balanced effort that will prevent teams from keying on individuals. The Lady Monarchs need reserve Shakeva Richards and freshman Brittany Martin to establish post presence in place of departed Tia Lewis.
PREDICTION: The Lady Monarchs should be improved from Barefoot's first season, the program's worst since 1990-91. They have the depth and athletic ability to play faster and extend the defense. Without CAA title and NCAA automatic berth possibilities, motivation must come from within.Copyright © 2015, CT Now