Women’s conference preview: DePaul’s league to lose

By: Kyle Tooley ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of chicagotribune.com | Podkowa rejects a shot during last season.

Women’s basketball is set to kick off in a few weeks, and there is no basketball more exciting than basketball in the Big East.

The Blue Demons of DePaul, for the third straight year, are the coach’s favorite to win the conference, but it will not be an easy road.

Teams from all around the conference are looking to dethrone the reigning champions, so let‘s take a look at the projected standings, as outlined by the coaches from around the Big East:

1. DePaul (15-3 Big East record in 2014-15) Coming off yet another conference title, DePaul is poised to have another big season. Though they have lost their leading scorer from last season in Brittany Hrynko, the Blue Demons still boast two preseason all-conference selections in seniors Megan Podkowa and Chanise Jenkins and, as always, are led by coach Doug Bruno, whose college and Olympic coaching resume speaks for itself.

Though their freshman class is not all that impressive, they still have a core of upperclassmen that look to return to the top of the Big East and eventually another crack at the NCAA tournament, where they were ousted in the second round a season ago.

2. St. John’s (11-7) A team that finished fourth in the Big East last season, St. John’s returns last season’s conference leading scorer and preseason Player of the Year Aliyyah Handford, who averaged a hair more than 19 points per game for the Red Storm in 2014-15. She and fellow senior Danaejah Grant, who herself averaged 17 points per game last season, look to lead the team into the season and contend with DePaul as best they can.

3. Villanova (12-6) Last season’s third place team out of Philadelphia looks to build off of its success from a season ago, as it returns leading scorer Carolina Coyer, but that is about it. The Wildcats will not light up the stat sheet offensively, but their league-leading defense found them wins one way or another. They will need that defense to be as good, if not better, than last year if they want to live up to this ranking.

4. Creighton (10-8) The fifth place team in last season’s standings, Creighton returns senior Marissa Janning, last season’s leading scorer, and its standout sophomore Sydney Lamberty, who were both named to the preseason all-Big East team. Junior Brianna Rollerson also returns to provide some help on the boards.

5. Seton Hall (15-3) Last year’s regular season champs, the Pirates are projected to fall a bit this season, even though they return the conference’s third leading scorer in Tabatha Richardson-Smith. This projected downfall is attributed to the fact that they lost their second and third leading scorers from 2014.

6. Xavier (8-10) Coach Brian Neal’s team looks to carry its momentum into 2015, as it has seen growing success under the third year coach. The Musketeers return all-conference selection Brianna Glover and three other starters to what should be an underrated and talented team as the season progresses.

St. John's guard, Aliyyah Handford, dribbles towards basket during Big East basketball contest between Georgetown and St. John's, at Lou Carnesecca Arena, on St. John's University campus, on Saturday February 9, 2013. (Robert Cole)
Photo courtesy of timesledger.com | Handford, from Newark, NJ., dribbles.

7. Georgetown (2-16) The Hoyas, who finished last in the conference in 2014, look to improve under the leadership of sophomore Dorothy Adomako. However, they will need to find her some help, as Adomako led the team in just about every statistic last season.

8. Butler (10-8) Though projected to finish eighth, The Bulldogs should be excited to return leading scorer Loryn Goodwin and for the arrival of five star recruit Brittany Ward, a player that has next-level scouts excited.

9. Marquette (4-14) Though the Golden Eagles return two of their top three leading scorers from last season, Marquette ranked dead last in the conference in defense, which they will need to improve if they want any chance of contending.

10. Providence Friars (3-15) A team that ranked at the bottom in team scoring last season, Providence adds insult to injury by losing its top scorer Alexis Harris. It could be a long season for the Friars if they cannot put the round thing in the hoop thing.

Though DePaul seems to be the odds-on favorites to win the conference this season, they will find heavy contention from teams like St. John’s and Villanova. Be sure to tune in to some Big East women’s basketball this season, as the road to the Big East championship should be an exciting one.