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Experts tab Detroit the preseason favorite

5/15/2006 - WNBA

In 2003, a young Shock squad came together at the right time to win the WNBA title. But since then, Detroit has largely been regarded as an underachiever.

"The year after the championship, Detroit's chemistry was absolutely terrible," ESPN analyst Nancy Lieberman says. "Kedra Holland-Corn's departure, Swin Cash's ACL injury and bad chemistry all struck at the same time."

And as a result, the team went 33-35 the past two seasons, with successive first-round playoff exits.

This summer, however, ESPN.com's experts unanimously pick Detroit -- which boasts five All-Stars in its starting lineup -- as the 2006 preseason favorite. Cash is said to finally be back at 100 percent after a torn ACL late in the 2004 season. Katie Smith, acquired from Minnesota for the last 13 games of last season, is over a knee injury that hampered her last summer and is fitter than ever after shedding 15 pounds (she already was one of the most dangerous perimeter scoring threats in the league). And Holland-Corn is back, too, after a season in Houston and a year off. Add in coach Bill Laimbeer, Ruth Riley, Deanna Nolan and Cheryl Ford, and the Shock start out as the team to beat when the WNBA's 10th season opens Saturday.

A look at all the experts' predictions: