After the departure of the starting front court, including one of the best players in the program's history -- center DeMya Walker -- Virginia will be hard-pressed to restore their national renown. They have failed to reach the NCAA tournament round of 16 the past two seasons and might not have the players to end that streak.

Senior Lisa Hosac, who has started periodically and shown flashes of brilliance during her first three seasons, will try to replace Walker, who ended her career as the ACC's all-time leader in blocked shots (330), as the program's all-time leader in field goal percentage (.557) and among the program's top 10 in three other categories. Hosac showed promise last season, scoring 18 points in the NCAA tournament against Penn State and leading the team in free throw percentage at .840. She should get help from junior Elena Kravchenko, who is the ACC's tallest player at 6 feet 10 and seems poised for vastly increased playing time after a summer of conditioning.

Juniors Chalois Lias, 6-1, and Dean'na Mitchelson, 6-2, will play inside and junior Svetlana Volnaya and freshman Marcie Dickson provide depth at small forward.

Freshman Schuye LaRue likely will play a prominent role. Coach Debbie Ryan and the players said they never have seen such a young player dominate as much as LaRue did in preseason practice. She could line up at nearly any position on the floor but will likely start at small forward.

The Cavaliers' starting back court of Erin Stovall and Renee Robinson returns. Sophomore Telisha Quarles will push Robinson for playing time and junior point guard Katie Tracy will join the team when the soccer season ends. Guard-forward Anna Crosswhite, a freshman out until December because of an anterior cruciate ligament tear, and senior Lauren Swierczek fill out the perimeter.

Unhappy about being a No. 9 seed in last season's NCAA tournament, Ryan has toughened the nonconference schedule, but the ACC seems likely to be as difficult as usual.

Data

Last season: 20-9 overall, 12-4 Atlantic Coast Conference (lost in first round of NCAA tournament).

Coach: Debbie Ryan (23rd season, 501-174).

Top returning players: C Lisa Hosac, 6-2, Sr. (6.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg); G Renee Robinson, 5-6, Sr. (2.9 apg, 1.6 spg); G Erin Stovall, 5-9, Jr. (14.5 ppg, 1.8 spg, third-team all-ACC).

Key departures: C DeMya Walker (15 ppg, 8.5 rpg, ACC-best 2.9 bpg, 1.9 spg, first-team all-ACC; F Lesley Brown (8.6 ppg, 4 rpg, Detroit Shock); F Monick Foote (12.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg).

New faces: F-G Anna Crosswhite, 6-1, Fr. (Castlecrag, Australia), F Marcie Dickson, 6-2, Fr. (Maplewood, N.J.), F Schuye LaRue, 6-3, Fr. (Carroll).

Schedule

November

21 St. Joseph's, 2

26 vs. Grambling*, 4:10

27 TBA*, TBA

28 TBA*, TBA

December

2 at William & Mary, 7

5 at Duke, 2

7 Loyola, 7:30

10 at Old Dominion, 7:30

20 Virginia Tech, 7:30

27 Siena, 7:30

29 vs. Butler**, 7:30

30 vs. Syracuse**, 7:30

January

3 Georgia Tech, 7:30

6 North Carolina, 7:30

9 at Florida State, 2

15 Maryland, 2

17 at N.C. State, 7:30

20 Clemson, 7:30

24 at Kent, 7

27 at Wake Forest, 7

30 Duke, 12:30

February

3 at Georgia Tech, 7

7 at North Carolina, 7:30

10 Florida State, 7:30

13 Arkansas State, 2

17 at Clemson, 7

20 N.C. State, 2

24 at Maryland, 7:30

27 Wake Forest, 2

March

3-6 ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

*Rainbow Wahine Classic, Honolulu

**Nationwide Classic in Charlottesville