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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, October 14, 2013

One person's American Athletic Conference predictions

In a couple of hours the inaugural American Athletic Conference's inaugural women's basketball preseason poll and all-conference team will be announced. As I have done in the past when UConn played in the Big East, I took a shot at predicting how the poll and player list may look. It's no easy task since I am not as familiar with many of the teams in the conference but here goes

Preseason poll
UConn: Not exactly going out on a limb here. UConn returns three All-Americans in Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and leading scorer Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis but the Huskies most talented player is 2013 Final Four Most Outstanding Player Breanna Stewart.
Louisville: Shoni Schimmel, Sara Hammond and Bria Smith form the nucleus of a team that could make another run deep into the NCAA tournament
Southern Methodist: Reigning Conference USA Player of the Year Keena Mays leads a talented group of returning players as the Mustangs look like a NCAA tournament team.
South Florida: The Bulls will miss the graduated Smith sisters but several key pieces return from a team which 22 games and nearly upset eventual Final Four team California in NCAA tournament.
Central Florida: High-scoring sophomore guard Brihanna Jackson is one of four returning starters for team which reached Conference USA tournament final last season
Rutgers: Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer needs to replace the Scarlet Knights’ best perimeter shooter and top two post players but has a roster full of highly-touted recruits to build around
Temple: Former UConn assistant coach Tonya Cardoza returns three of top four scorers off a 14-18 team as Owls could make a run at NCAA tournament berth
Cincinnati: Bearcats return seven players who started games a season ago and have the pieces to be a vastly improved team.
Houston: Cougars will miss the dynamic Porche Landry but return nearly everybody else from a team which could make a run at a winning season
Memphis: Tigers are glad to have Mooriah Rowser back after she was limited to three games during 2012-13. She teams with Ariel Hearn for what could be dynamic 1-2 punch.

Preseason All-Conference Team
Stefanie Dolson Sr. C
Bria Hartley, UConn Sr. G
Sara Hammond, Louisville Jr. F
Ariel Hearn, Memphis So. G
Brihanna Jackson, Central Florida So. G
Betnijah Laney, Rutgers Jr. G/F
Keena Mays SMU Sr. G
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis UConn. Jr. G/F
Inga Orekhova, South Florida Sr. G/F
Shoni Schimmel, Louisville Sr. G
Breanna Stewart, UConn So. F
Player of the Year
Breanna Stewart: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was UConn’s top scorer and Stefanie Dolson is also a returning All-American but anybody who watched the Final Four knows that Stewart is not only the Huskies’ most gifted player but also as talented as any player in the country.
Rookie of the Year
Tyler Scaife, Rutgers: It’s always risky predicting early success for Rutgers’ freshmen since it often takes time for first-year players to grasp the Scarlet Knights’ complex defensive schemes but the graduation of Erica Wheeler opens up plenty of playing time in the backcourt.

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