Connecticut Chosen to Win 2012-13 BIG EAST Regular-Season Title

MEDIA DAY CENTRAL

 

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Connecticut, the 2012 BIG EAST Championship tournament winner, was picked to win the 2012-13 BIG EAST women's basketball regular-season title. The selection was made by the league's 15 head coaches, who were not permitted to select their own teams.

 

The Huskies, who received 12 first-place votes, edged last year's regular-season champion, Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish received three first-place votes and were picked to finish second.

 

Louisville was selected to finish third, with St. John's picked fourth and Rutgers rounding out the top five. DePaul was slotted sixth, while Syracuse and Georgetown were separated by only one point in seventh and eighth, respectively. The Hoyas were followed by USF, Villanova and Marquette in ninth, 10th and 11th. Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and Providence followed the Golden Eagles, with the Panthers and Pirates tied for 13th. 

 

Connecticut posted a 33-5 overall record last year, with three of its losses coming in conference play. The Huskies reached the NCAA Championship Final Four for the fifth-straight year, falling to Notre Dame. UConn will be led by unanimous Preseason All-BIG EAST selection Bria Hartley, preseason selection Stefanie Dolson and last year's Freshman of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year, Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis.

 

Notre Dame, which was 35-4 last year, will be led by Skylar Diggins, who was chosen for the second-consecutive year as the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year. The Fighting Irish won their first outright regular-season title last season with a 15-1 record. Notre Dame was chosen as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament last year and advanced to the National Championship game for the second-straight year. The trip to the tournament was the Fighting Irish's 17th consecutive.

 

Louisville was tied for sixth in the BIG EAST last year after posting a 10-6 conference mark and going 23-10 overall. The Cardinals made their sixth appearance in the NCAA Championship in the last seven years. Unanimous Preseason All-BIG EAST selection Shoni Schimmel returns to lead the Cardinals in her junior season. Schimmel was named an All-BIG EAST First Team selection and finished league play ranked 11th in scoring, sixth in assists, and fourth in steals.

 

St. John's finished second in the conference last year behind a 13-3 league record and a 24-10 overall mark. The Red Storm are led by new head coach Joe Tartamella, who has been with the squad for nine years as an assistant. The Red Storm earned their third-straight trip to the NCAA tournament last year and earned the highest seeding in program history with a No. 3 seed.

 

After tying for sixth place with a 10-6 mark last year, Rutgers was chosen to improve one spot in 2012-13. RU had a 22-10 overall record last season. The Scarlet Knights earned their 10th-straight NCAA Championship bid last season and a No. 6 seed. Monique Oliver earned a spot on the preseason team after being an All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention selection last year.

 

DePaul, picked to finish sixth, returns six of the seven players from last year's team, including Preseason All-BIG EAST unanimous selection Anna Martin. Martin led the league in scoring in 2011-12 at 19.1 ppg and finished the season with 648 points, which ranks 10th on DePaul's all-time single-season list. The Blue Demons finished eighth last year after posting a 23-11 overall record and reaching the second round of the NCAA Championship.

 

Syracuse finished last season tied for 10th in the conference with a 6-10 league record and a 22-15 overall mark. SU reached the WNIT semifinals, its fifth-straight trip to the postseason and fourth consecutive in the WNIT. Preseason all-conference selection Kayla Alexander was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team and the WNIT All-Tournament Team in 2012 after ranking 19th in the nation and first in the BIG EAST with 2.6 blocks per game.

 

Georgetown's conference record of 11-5 (23-9 overall) tied for fourth in the league last season. GU's season culminated with the program's fourth NCAA bid overall and third in as many years. The Hoyas advanced to the second round as the No. 5 seed. This year, the Hoyas are under new leadership with assistant coach Keith Brown taking the reigns. The Hoyas were chosen to finish seventh, only one point behind Syracuse. GU will be led by unanimous Preseason All-Conference honoree Sugar Rodgers, who led the Hoyas in scoring with 18.7 ppg last year, which was second in the conference.

 

Under the guidance of head coach Jose Fernandez, USF advanced to the third round of the WNIT for the sixth time last year. The Bulls wrapped up 2012 just one win shy of a 20-win season with an overall record of 19-16. USF was ninth in the league with an 8-8 record and has been selected to finish ninth again this season.

 

After tying for 10th in the league last year, Villanova was selected to again finish in that spot. The Wildcats were 19-15 overall last season, reaching the third round of the WNIT. VU's appearance in the WNIT was the team's 10th postseason berth in the last 13 seasons. The trip also marked the Wildcats sixth trip to the WNIT in program history and the first since 2008. Villanova will be led by senior forward Laura Sweeney, a Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention.

 

Marquette was picked to finish 11th. The Golden Eagles were 14-17 overall and 4-12 in league play, advancing to the Second Round of the BIG EAST Championship. Junior Katherine Plouffe led the team in scoring and rebounding last year, earning All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention honors.

 

Cincinnati finished tied for 10th last season and was picked to finish 12th this year. The Bearcats posted an overall record of 16-16, a seven-game improvement from the previous season and the most wins since 2005-06.  Head coach Jamelle Elliott recorded her first career postseason victory and the Bearcats won their first postseason game in 10 years. The 2012 season marked the first time UC had advanced to the postseason since 2005-06.

 

Pittsburgh and Seton Hall each received 31 points in the preseason voting. The Panthers will be led by sophomore Brianna Kiesel, who earned a spot on the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team. The Pirates will be led by top returning scorer senior Brittany Morris, who averaged 11.0 ppg last year and led the team in 3-pointers.

After closing out the 2011-12 season with a 13-17 record and going 5-11 in league play, Providence was picked 15th in the preseason poll. The Friars will be led by Susan Robinson Fruchtl, who became the ninth head coach in the program's history in April.

 

The 2013 BIG EAST Women's Basketball Championship Presented by American Eagle Outfitters returns to the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. After a successful championship in 2012 that again was the national leader in attendance among all conferences, the five-day, 14-game event returns March 8-12, 2013.  All 15 teams battle for the conference title and the winner will earn the league's automatic bid to the 64-team NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship.

 

2012-13 Preseason Coaches Poll

                                                                                        Points

1.

Connecticut (12)

194

2.

Notre Dame (3)

182

3.

Louisville

167

4.

St. John's

144

5.

Rutgers

143

6.

DePaul

138

7.

Syracuse

105

8.

Georgetown

104

9.

USF

97

10.

Villanova

78

11.

Marquette

75

12.

Cincinnati

61

13.

Pittsburgh

31

 

Seton Hall

31

15. 

Providence

25