Wednesday, July 17

The women's basketball team look to rebound with new head coach Cori Close and recruits

Women’s basketball preview

Key incomer:

Kacy Swain, freshman forward
Swain is considered the No. 25 prospect in the 2011 recruiting class in the nation by ESPN. The 6-foot-3-inch forward averaged 12.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.2 blocks for Chaparral High School in Temecula.

Key returners:

Jasmine Dixon, senior forward
Dixon was the second leading scorer for the Bruins last season with 12.1 points per game. She was also the leading rebounder with 7.3 per game. Dixon received All-American honorable mention as well.

Atonye Nyingifa, redshirt junior forward
Nyingifa is known for her aggressive style of play and athleticism. After averaging 8.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, Nyingifa will need to become a dominant frontcourt presence once again.

This article is part of the Daily Bruin's Orientation Issue 2011 coverage. To view the entire package of articles, columns and multimedia, please visit:

The women’s basketball team catapulted themselves into the national scene by spending most of their season ranked in the top 10.

At the beginning of the season, the Bruins were polled to finish second in the Pac-10 and were ranked No. 16 in the nation.

However, UCLA proved itself to be part of the elite crowd after defeating No. 12 Notre Dame in double overtime in South Bend.

Coach Nikki Caldwell’s stress on high tempo defense became a key factor in the Bruins’ success as they allowed merely 55.3 points per game, while scoring 65.6 points per game.

UCLA lost only two games in conference, both to Stanford, who ended up winning the Pac-10 with UCLA finishing in second.

The Bruins’ triumphs throughout the season earned them a No. 3 in the NCAA tournament, mathching the highest seed ever in program history.

But UCLA was forced to exit early when they were defeated by No. 11 Gonzaga Bulldogs in an away game.

The Bruins concluded their season at 28-5, losing to only three teams the entire season: Stanford, Gonzaga and LSU.

A second loss to LSU, beyond the confines of the game, followed shortly after the season ended when Caldwell announced she would be leaving UCLA to become the head coach of the Tigers.

In this season alone, Caldwell led the Bruins to break school records in victories in one season (26), Pac-10 conference victories (16) and scoring defense (55.3).

UCLA named Cori Close as the successor to Caldwell and it will be Close’s first time as a head coach.

She has coached in 15 consecutive NCAA tournaments, and has established herself as a successful assistant, leading teams in 15 of her past 16 seasons to at least 20 wins and 11 conference championships.

UCLA also welcomes one of the nation’s strongest recruiting classes, despite the decommitment of one of the best prospects, Justine Hartman, following Caldwell’s departure. UCLA will rely heavily on this incoming class.

Compiled by Chris Nguyen, Bruin Sports senior staff.

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