<
>

Changing of guards? Not with these five

11/14/2003

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):

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

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

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

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

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.