MU Women Picked Ninth in BIG EAST Poll
Oct. 14, 2015
NEW YORK – The Marquette University women's basketball team was picked to finish ninth in the BIG EAST Conference, a preseason poll of the league's head coaches revealed Wednesday afternoon.
For the third consecutive year, DePaul was selected by the league’s head coaches as the BIG EAST women’s basketball preseason favorite. The Blue Demons shared the 2014-15 regular-season title with Seton Hall before edging the Pirates in the BIG EAST Tournament title game to claim their second consecutive postseason crown.
DePaul totaled 80 points and eight first-place votes, followed in second by St. John’s with 66 points and one first-place nod. The Red Storm narrowly edged Villanova (64 points), which earned the remaining No. 1 vote. Creighton followed in fourth with 57 points, squeaking by fifth-place Seton Hall with 55 points. Xavier landed in sixth (37 points), followed by Georgetown (34), Butler (28), Marquette (15) and Providence (14).
The Blue Demons earned the BIG EAST’s automatic berth to the 2015 NCAA Tournament where they advanced to the second round. DePaul is one of just seven programs to appear in each of the last 13 NCAA Tournaments and is joined in this elite category by Connecticut, Duke, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford and Tennessee. The Blue Demons finished 27-8 overall, 15-3 in BIG EAST play, and return a trio of starters from that squad. Head coach Doug Bruno enters his 30th season on DePaul’s sidelines.
DePaul had the BIG EAST’s most points and the highest scoring average in 16 years in 2014-15, totaling 1,569 points over 18 games for an 87.2 average. The Blue Demons set single-season BIG EAST records for field goals attempted, three-pointers made and three-pointers attempted last year. In addition to these accolades, DePaul had its first BIG EAST Player of the Year in Brittany Hrynko, while rising senior Megan Podkowa was named the BIG EAST Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Hrynko went on to be selected 19th overall in the WNBA Draft, while Podkowa leads a group of 11 returning letterwinners.
Backed by the highest scoring duo in the BIG EAST, St. John’s will aim for a return to the NCAA Tournament in 2016 after its string of five consecutive berths ended in 2014-15. The Red Storm went 23-11 overall last year, including 11-7 in BIG EAST play to finish fourth, and advanced to the third round of the postseason WNIT. Two-time All-American Aliyyah Handford was the BIG EAST’s leading scorer last year and was tabbed the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year for 2015-16. St. John’s also boasted the conference’s No. 4 scorer in Danaejah Grant. Four starters are back for the Red Storm, with fourth-year head coach Joe Tartamella’s biggest task being replacing the program’s all-time leading rebounder, Amber Thompson, who graduated in May.
Villanova ousted the Red Storm from the WNIT in the third round before the Wildcats were eliminated in overtime in the quarterfinals. Nova (22-14, 12-6 BIG EAST) finished third in the league standings last season and took DePaul down to the wire in the BIG EAST Tournament Semifinals after splitting the regular-season series with the reigning champs. The Wildcats were dealt a tough hand in terms of injuries last year as they suffered six single-digit early season losses, including three to teams which later qualified for the NCAA Tournament, as their No. 2 scorer recovered from offseason surgery. The Wildcats won eight of their next 10 games to right the ship, and return a trio of starters from that squad. Caroline Coyer highlights that group after leading Nova in points, assists and steals in 2014-15, while ranking second in rebounds.
Creighton (17-14, 10-8) qualified for the national postseason for the eighth consecutive year in 2014-15, earning an at-large bid to the WNIT. The Bluejays return four starters from that squad, highlighted by 2014 BIG EAST Player of the Year Marissa Janning. After a breakout year in 2013-14, Janning cooled off a bit as a junior, but still managed to rank among the league leaders in points, assists and shooting percentage and was unanimously named All-BIG EAST First Team. A contender for BIG EAST Freshman of the Year honors last season, Sydney Lamberty also returns for 14th-year head coach Jim Flanery. Lamberty was a six-time BIG EAST Freshman of the Week in 2014-15 and is Creighton’s No. 2 returning scorer (10.0) behind Janning.
Seton Hall is coming off one of its most successful seasons in program history, claiming a share of its first BIG EAST regular-season crown and earning its first national ranking and NCAA Tournament berth in two decades. The Pirates went 28-6 overall and shared the regular-season title with DePaul at 15-3. The Hall has been on a roll in its two years under head coach Tony Bozzella, but the 2015 BIG EAST Coach of the Year will be tasked with replacing four starters from last season’s squad, including a pair of unanimous All-BIG EAST First Team selections. The Pirates will be tested early and often in the non-conference portion, with contests against local rivals and NCAA Tourney teams Princeton and Rutgers, along with a road trip to Georgia to name a few.
The Musketeers started the season winning five of their first six games in 2014-15 and went on to improve upon their 2013-14 record by 10 wins, ranking ninth among all Division I teams in improvement. Xavier (18-15, 8-10) returns four starters from that team and 11 letterwinners overall, including leading scorer Briana Glover. Head coach Brian Neal enters his third season at Xavier.
Second-year Georgetown head coach Natasha Adair has the luxury of all five starters back from 2014-15, including reigning BIG EAST Freshman of the Year Dorothy Adomako. Adomako was among the league leaders in scoring and rebounding last year, boasting team-high stats in both categories. The Hoyas went 4-27 overall and 2-16 in league play in Adair’s first season on the Hilltop.
After being picked nearly unanimously for last place in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll in 2014, the Bulldogs surprised everyone by going unbeaten in the month of January for eight consecutive league wins. Butler earned wins over Villanova, Creighton and St. John’s during the swing, en route to a 10-8 finish, good enough for fifth place. The Bulldogs and second-year head coach Kurt Godlevske will hope for more of that magic in 2015-16 after the departure of their top two scorers. Godlevske’s offseason work has paid off in the recruiting department as the league’s highest-ranking rookie is on the Butler roster in BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year Brittany Ward. Ward was ranked No. 34 nationally in her class and No. 6 at her position (HoopGurlz/espnW).
Susan Robinson Fruchtl enters her fourth season at the helm in Friartown and will look to guide her squad to its first winning season since 2009-10. Robinson Fruchtl will be charged with filling the holes left by the graduation of her top two scorers and rebounders from the past two years. Coming off a 10-day training trip to France and Italy this summer, the Friars have a foreign flair which extends heavily into their lineup this season. Evi Iiskola (Finland), Allegra Botteghi (Italy), Yoyo Nogic (Serbia) and Clara Che (Spain) all represented their home countries in international competition during the offseason.
BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
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