Big East Ladies Hoop Preview

By Richard Kent
Updated: November 5, 2007

Big East ConferenceCONNECTICUT — Last week, we took a look at the men’s hoop race in the Big East Conference. Here’s a look at how we see this year’s womens race.


1. Connecticut: The Huskies captured their 15th Big East regular season title last year with a record of 16-0. They did lose to Rutgers in the finals of the Big East Tournament, but led by Hall of Fame coach Gino Auriemma return all five starters and all 12 letter winners from last year’s squad. The star of the team is junior guard Renee Montgomery. Senior guard Mel Thomas can shoot it and sophomore Tina Charles is one of the best posts in the country. Freshman Maya Moore, National High School Player of the Year should get plenty of playing time.

2. Rutgers: They return all 5 starters from last year’s national runner-up team. They are led by 3 of the top 10 players in the Big East in guard Matee Ajavon, forward Essence Carson and center Kia Vaughn. They are not deep but they are talented.

3. West Virginia: This is a surprise pick to many but Mike Carey can coach and the team is led by senior center Olanyinka Sanni. Senior guard Mel Bulger returns as does junior forward Melanie Small. Look for them to surprise.

4. Pittsburgh: This is a very good team led by coach Agnus Berenato. Marcedes Walker returns as do Shavonte Zellous and Xenia Stewart. They can certainly be an NCAA team.

5. DePaul: They are shooting for their 6th straight NCAA Tournament appearance. They return 83% of their scoring. Senior Allie Quigley is a good one.

6. Louisville: They have the Player of the Year in Angel McCoughtry. McCoughtry led the Big East in scoring last year at 21.5 ppg, rebounding at 10.3 rpg in steals with 112. She will be a first team all-American. As she goes so does the team.

7. Marquette: Marquette lost four seniors but return junior Erin Monfre along with Marissa Thrower and sophomore Janelle Harris. They have a lot of talent.

8. Notre Dame: Muffett McGraw is one of the top coaches in the country and Charel Allen is one of the best players. They should be good. Not a lot of depth though.

9. Cincinnati: They suffered the loss of a key player in Kahla Roudebush but still have Carla Jacobs, Michelle Jones and Shelly Bellman returning.

10. Syracuse: They return all five starters from their 2006-07 squad, including senior Valda Sapaviciute. They are deep at point guard. Sophomore Nicole Michael is a good one. They should be strong this season.

11. USF: They lost a lot from a 21-12 team but they do return Shantia Grace.

12. Seton Hall: Junior forward Noteisha Womack is a good one and should lead the team in scoring and rebounding for head coach Phyllis Mangina.

13. Villanova: This is another down year in Philadelphia for head coach Harry Perretta. Villanova does return its entire back court from last year. Starting guards should be Maria Getty and Tia Grant. Junior Briana Weiss is expected to see time at the forward position.

14. St. John’s: St. John’s returns all five starters from a squad that was a disappointment. Senior Tila Sten should be a leader. They have more depth than they had last season.

15. Providence: They return 4 starters from last season under head coach Phil Seymore. Their star is Chelsea Marandola. They are not deep.

16. Georgetown: They do return several starters from a team that won 7 games in a row last season but the talent is not there. They will rely on senior Kierah Marlow. They are not strong in the frontcourt.