Changing of guards? Not with these five

Updated: November 14, 2003, 11:16 AM ET
ESPN.com

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

That old saying might best sum up our list of the top five off-guards in the country. Alana Beard, Jia Perkins, Kelly Mazzante, Diana Taurasi and Lindsay Whalen are each a year older and wiser, and still the best of the bunch -- which explains why the quintet made our list of the nation's best off-guards for the second consecutive season.

A look at each player (listed alphabetically with last season's stats):

ESPN.COM'S TOP FIVE
Alana Beard, Duke, 5-11, senior
"Best defender in nation by far. Only thing missing from her résumé is a national championship." -- Nancy Lieberman
"Fearsome on-ball defender, great penetrator and wants so badly to win." -- Mechelle Voepel
G MIN FG REB AST PTS
37 31.4 52.76.9 3.022.0
Kelly Mazzante, Penn State, 6-0, senior
"She does it all -- score, rebound, make steals -- and has one of the quickest releases I've seen." -- Nancy Lieberman
"Quick-trigger release and used to facing any and all defenses." -- Mechelle Voepel
G MIN FG REB AST PTS
3536.1 43.34.6 2.223.9
Jia Perkins, Texas Tech, 5-8, senior
"Great defender with great footspeed. Just needs to extend her game and improve her 3-pointer." -- Nancy Lieberman
"A pull-up jumper that can seem automatic, but needs consistency." -- Mechelle Voepel
G MIN FG REB AST PTS
3531.3 43.05.1 2.815.9
Diana Taurasi, Connecticut, 6-0, senior
"There is no better go-to player in the world. Some pro players are envious of her confidence -- and ability to back it up." -- Nancy Lieberman
"Can do everything on the court and brings everybody else along with her." -- Mechelle Voepel
G MIN FG REB AST PTS
3731.9 47.66.13.117.9
Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota, 5-9, senior
"Can get her shot off on anyone, anytime." -- Nancy Lieberman
"A creative player and dynamic scorer who can make quick adjustments." -- Mechelle Voepel
G MIN FG REB AST PTS
3132.954.65.0 6.220.6

Honorable mention: Valerie King, Cincinnati

ESPN analyst Nancy Lieberman, ESPN.com columnist Mechelle Voepel and Melanie Jackson, who coordinates ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage, contributed to the selection process.

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