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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Prediction time

With the Big East holding its media day tomorrow in New York, I figured I would take a stab at guessing how the coaches' poll will turn out. It's never an easy task but here we go.

1. UConn: That didn't take very long. Too bad the other picks weren't as easy.
2. West Virginia: They'll miss Sara Miles until she comes back but they are still loaded
3. Notre Dame: I know they were hit hard by graduation but look for Skylar Diggins to emerge as an elite player and if Devereaux Peters can stay healthy, the Fighting Irish could have a top-flight outside/inside combo.
4. Georgetown: Sugar Rodgers returns after a fantastic freshman season as do most of her teammates. The Hoyas won't be sneaking up on anybody this year.
5. St. John's: They'll miss Kelly McManmon's outside shooting and Joy McCorvey's grit but former Trinity Catholic star Da'Shena Stevens leads a talented group of returnees.
6. DePaul: It's a testament to the quality of teams ahead of them that a DePaul team bringing back pretty much everybody as well as welcoming back Deidre Naughton for a sixth year of eligibility.
7. Louisville: There have been some defections but the return of Monique Reid and a top-notch recruiting class should make the Cardinals a player in the Big East again.
8. Syracuse: This is where it starts getting tricky but when you add in gifted Georgia Tech transfer Iesia Hemingway to a nucleus led by Erica Morrow and the Orange have tremendous potential.
9. Pittsburgh: The transfer of three players including center Pepper Wilson hurts but Pitt does return rebounding dynamo Chelsea Cole as well as double-figure scorers Shayla Scott and Taneisha Harrison.
10. Rutgers: If April Sykes starts displaying the talent that made her a top five recruit, the Scarlet Knights could make some noise especially with Khadijah Rushdan and Chelsey Lee returning
11. Villanova: Despite the loss of four key players, I'd expect the Wildcats to regain their shooting touch after uncharacteristically struggling from 3-point range last season.
12. Cincinnati: Replacing Kahla Roudebush won't be easy but the return of Shelly Bellman and addition of Vanderbilt transfer Chanel Chisholm will help during year two of the Jamelle Elliott era at Cincinnati.
13. Marquette: Angel Robinson is one of the more underrated players in the Big East but she'll need help offensively from other veterans if the Golden Eagles are to move up the standings.
14. Providence: The Friars will lead the Big East in Connecticut players on their roster (New Britain's Symone Roberts, New Haven's Lauren Okafor and Windsor's Rachel Barnes give PC three Nutmeg State natives). Barnes was a dynamic scorer in junior college so perhaps she'll help ease the burden left by Chelsea Marandola's graduation.
15. South Florida: The Bulls return two starters but no double-figure scorers but if national JUCO player of the year Andrea Smith and transfers Sasha Bernard (Indiana) and Daleisha Carn (Alabama) can contribute early, USF could be a surprise team.
16. Seton Hall: Nobody told Anne Donovan this was going to be easy since five of the top seven scorers off a team which won one Big East game are gone. Kandice Green returns after averaging 12.8 points and a team-best 8.7 rebounds. Jasmine Crew, who averaged 13.9 points two seasons ago for Northeastern, is a welcome addition.


PRESEASON ALL-BIG EAST TEAM
The league normally picks 11 players (a player of the year and 10 first teamers) so here are my 11 listed alphabetically.

Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame
Keisha Hampton, DePaul
Tiffany Hayes, UConn
Maya Moore, UConn
Erica Morrow, Syracuse
Deirdre Naughton, DePaul
Monique Reid, Louisville
Liz Repella, West Virginia
Sugar Rodgers, Georgetown
Khadijah Rushdan, Rutgers
Da'Shena Stevens, St. John's

My preseason player of the year would be Maya Moore (I know I'm really going out on a limb).
Freshman of the year is a little tougher but I'll go with UConn's Bria Hartley ahead of another point guard (Louisville's Shoni Schimmel).

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