by HOWIE STALWICK & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & E & lt;/span & ASTERN WASHINGTON EAGLES & r & Predicted finish: seventh place, Big Sky Conference
2006-07 record: 10-19 overall, 5-11 Big Sky (seventh place; no postseason)
Coach: Wendy Schuller (seventh year, 80-91)
Season/home opener: Montana Tech on Monday, 2:05 pm
Outlook: Junior forward Sydney Benson is the top returning scorer with just 8.9 points per game. Former Lewis and Clark High School star Katy Baker (7.1 ppg), a junior guard, is the only other full-time starter back from a year ago. Benson (8.4) and Baker (5.4) finished 1-2 on the team in rebounding. The Eagles have plenty of height -- eight of 12 players are 6 feet or taller, and three others are 5-11 -- but athleticism is in short supply.
Predicted finish: second place, West Coast Conference
2006-07 record: 24-10 overall, 13-1 WCC (won WCC regular season and tournament titles; 0-1 at NCAA tournament)
Coach: Kelly Graves (eighth year, 120-93)
Season/home opener: Washington on Monday, 7:05 pm
Outlook: Three of the top four scorers return from Gonzaga's first NCAA tournament team, but leading scorer and rebounder Stephanie Hawk graduated. Heather Bowman, the former Lewis and Clark High standout, was the WCC Newcomer of the Year last season. The 6-foot forward averaged 13 points and six rebounds and capped her freshman year by earning MVP honors at the conference tournament. The Zags visit defending NCAA champion Tennessee on Dec. 16 to reunite sisters Jami (Gonzaga) and Angie (Tennessee) Bjorklund. Both starred at University High.
Predicted finish: ninth place, Western Athletic Conference
2006-07 record: 6-22 overall, 3-13 WAC (tied for eighth; 0-1 at WAC tournament)
Coach: Mike Divilbiss (seventh year, 78-94)
Season/home opener: Montana State on Friday, 5:30 pm
Outlook: Seven of Idaho's 13 players are freshmen, so... the pain continues. That said, Idaho post Katie Madison led NCAA Division I freshmen in scoring with 19.1 points per game last season, and hustling little point guard Charlotte Otero led the WAC in assists (4.5) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.24) as a freshman. Madison made the All-WAC second team after leading the league in scoring and field-goal shooting percentage (49.6), but no other Vandal shot 40 percent.
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & ASHINGTON STATE COUGARS
Outlook: The Washington Huskies fired Daugherty last spring after an 18-13 season, but she might be elected mayor of Pullman if she wins half that many games at WSU. It is difficult to grasp the depth of the Cougars' ineptitude in women's basketball. WSU has suffered through 11 straight losing seasons; hasn't finished higher than ninth in the Pac-10 the past eight seasons; and hasn't won more than eight total games or two conference games the past six seasons. Leading scorer Marisa Stotler (10.4 ppg) transferred to Boise State after her freshman season, so the top returning scorer is junior guard Katie Appleton (8.1 ppg).