Photo courtesy of Xavier Athletics | Senior guard Jada Byrd is one of two lone seniors on a young Xavier women’s basketball team. The Musketeers will have their hands full, facing off against ranked opponents, DePaul and Marquette.
The 2017-18 Big East women’s basketball season has a number of promising teams that could go deep into the tournament. The question remains if this year’s Xavier Musketeer squad can improve upon its lackluster 2016-17 season.
The Musketeers were ranked 10th in this year’s preseason coaches’ poll, down three spots from last year. Xavier will only be returning one starter this year, its top perimeter shooter redshirt junior guard Kindell Fincher. She nailed 52 from behind the arc last season, good enough for 10th best in the conference.
The team will also look for its six new freshmen to add some more offense this year, with top of the class being freshman guard Jordyn Dawson, who averaged a double-double in high school.
The Musketeers posted a 12-18 overall record last year, going 4-14 in the conference.
At the top of the conference this year are the Marquette Golden Eagles. They are the reigning Big East champs and are currently ranked 19th in this year’s preseason AP top 25. Junior guard Allzia Blocton is one of three returners in the starting lineup for the Eagles. She was voted the Big East Preseason Player of the Year and averaged 17.1 points per game last season. Last year’s tournament Cinderella team, the Eagles went 6-0 against top-25 teams.
The DePaul Blue Demons are ranked No. 20 in the preseason top-25. Looking to go for a fifth regular season title and 16th straight tournament berth, the Blue Demons return two starters this year.
Ashton Millender and Marte’ Grays were both sidelined with various injuries last year but look to remain healthy for the season.
Villanova went 11-7 in conference play last season, going 20-15 overall. The team will be strengthened by the return of its top six scorers this season. Senior Alex Louin and junior Adrianna Hahn were named to the preseason All-Conference team.
Villanova has not finished at the top of the conference since 1986-87 season but is looking strong to make a run at it this season.
Creighton was co-regular season champions with DePaul last season but is currently ranked fourth in the conference in the preseason poll. This may be a little low for the Blue Jays, who went 12-1 at home but 9-6 on the road. Despite losing their top three scorers to graduation, the Blue Jays still have plenty of defense to make up for that loss of offense.
The Georgetown Hoyas are in a potential rebuilding year, being ranked in the middle of the Big East in the preseason. The Hoyas went 9-9 in conference play last season and 17-13 overall.
Losing three-time All-Big East Dorothy Adomako to injury does not help their prospects of improving. Georgetown is going through its fifth coach in seven seasons and is still trying to find its place in the conference.
The Seton Hall Pirates are ranked sixth in this year’s preseason poll. They look to turn around last year’s 4-14 Big East record. Without a better conference record, the Pirates will not be able to surpass their 12-19 record from last season.
The St. John Red Storm loses Big East co-defensive player of the year Aailyah Lewis to graduation, as well as senior Jade Walker.
This means the Storm lost two of its top three scorers. It hopes to mimic Marquette this year, riding the back of a top-50 freshman Qadashah Hoppie to a regular season success.
The Butler Bulldogs only had two conference wins, which continues a trend in the bottom half of the conference. Wins against non-conference teams will be key this year, with their facing No. 15 West Virginia and Virginia Tech before conference play begins.
The Providence Friars are ranked ninth in this year’s preseason rankings. They went 4-14 in conference and 12-19 overall last season. Not much will change this year, after losing two seniors who were some of the best the Friars have had in program history. They don’t look to rise higher than their current ranking.
By: Jack Dunn ~Staff Writer~