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U. women planning on better season

Led by an all-star senior backcourt that averaged nearly 26 points and almost nine rebounds, 10.2 assists and five steals a game for the best team in Utah women's basketball history, coach Elaine Elliott's Utes are eager to get back at it as practice for the 1997-98 season got under way Saturday.

"For the first time in the NCAA history of this program," said Elliott, beginning her 15th season as Ute coach, "we have the potential to see beyond what any other Utah team has ever done."Utah is the defending Western Athletic Conference champ (15-1) and is coming off a 25-6 overall mark in which for the first time the Utes advanced to the NCAA second round.

Point guard Alli Bills led the NCAA at 7.6 assists per game last season and is fourth on Utah's career list of assists with 400, despite missing 20 games as a sophomore to a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament. She needs 41 assists to move into first place. She was an All-WAC defensive selection.

Backcourt-mate Julie Krommenhoek, a three-time Kodak All-America honorable mention with 1,542 career points, needs 307 more to become the WAC career leader and 533 for Utah's career record. She already owns most U. 3-point records.

Bills and Krommenhoek are part of a four-senior group (with Amy Alcorn and Laura Ross Allen) that has played its entire career for Utah and averaged 23 wins a season, a .767 win percentage.

Utah must replace its entire front line but has three top reserves back, including 6-4 sophomore center Kristi Rose, who was third in the WAC with 34 blocked shots, No. 6 on Utah's all-time single-season blocks list. The others are Allen and Lori Red.

The exhibition season opens in the Huntsman Center Nov. 15 against the Portland Saints AAU team. The regular season starts Nov. 21 with Utah at Weber State.