Atlantic 10 Announces Women's Basketball Preseason Poll
Oct. 24, 2012
Bronx, N.Y. - After capturing its first Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball title and making the program's third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, Dayton has been tabbed as the team to beat this season, according to a vote of the league's 16 head coaches. Richmond and 2009 champion Charlotte rounded out the top three, respectively.
Fordham, who is led by second-year head coach Stephanie Gaitley, was tabbed to finish eleventh by the coaches. The Rams return four starters from last year's squad, led by senior guard Arielle Collins, who started all 30 contests as a junior, setting career-highs in most offensive categories. She led the team in scoring (11.1 ppg), assists (99), steals (57), and minutes per game (38.3 mpg), netting double figures in scoring in 18 of 30 games.
Corning is joined by returning starters Abigail Corning, Charlotte Stoddart and Christina Gaskin. Last year Corning was third on the team in scoring, averaging 10.5 ppg along with 5.2 rpg, while Stoddart was fourth, averaging 7.5 ppg, and she led the Rams with 6.4 rpg. Gaskin averaged 5.1 ppg and 3.9 rpg, leading the squad with 33 blocks.
The four returning starters will be joined by two talented transfers, Erin Rooney and Marah Strickland. Rooney, a transfer from Monmouth University, was a member of the New Zealand Senior National Team last summer, competing in the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. At Monmouth Rooney was second on the 2010-11 team in scoring, averaging 11.0 ppg.
Strickland played in 19 games at South Carolina in 2010-11, netting double figures in scoring nine times. She started her collegiate career at Maryland, starting 59 of 70 games in two seasons with the Terrapins and etching her name among Maryland's top 10 in career three-point field goals made.
Dayton (23-7/12-2) returns six letterwinners from a team that posted the best winning percentage in head coach Jim Jabir's career and won a program-best 12 Atlantic 10 games (12-2) last season. The Flyers graduated four starters, but retained the services of reigning A-10 Rookie of the Year Andrea Hoover (10.0 ppg). Hoover finished her freshman season with exactly 300 points, the first Flyer to score at least 300 in her rookie campaign since Justine Raterman scored 459 in 2008-09. Dayton's incoming freshman class is ranked 31st in the nation and is the top recruiting class in the Atlantic 10 this season.
Richmond (23-9/9-5) returns four starters from last year's 23-9 squad, including two of its top three scorers in redshirt senior Rachael Bilney (14.7 ppg) and junior Genevieve Okoro (7.0 ppg). Bilney sunk a school-record eight threes in a win over George Washington and led the Spiders with 60 long-range shots last season, while Okoro, an All-Conference third team selection, returns to lead the frontcourt after recording a team-best nine double-doubles in 2011-12. The Spiders also add two newcomers to the lineup in guards Bria Powell and Lauren Tolson.
Charlotte (16-14/8-6) welcomes back nine letterwinners and all five starters, including preseason All-Conference first team and All-Defensive team selection Jennifer Hailey. Hailey, a senior forward, led the A-10 in rebounding and blocks a year ago and paced the 49ers to their school-record 10th consecutive postseason appearance. In addition to Hailey, second-year head coach Cara Consuegra will also have the services of senior forward Amanda Dowe, who also pulled down 9.3 rebounds a game.
The 49ers are followed by fellow WNIT participants Duquesne (20-12/7-7), Temple (23-10/13-1) and Saint Joseph's (22-11/9-5). Duquesne welcomes back the league's top returning scorer in preseason All-Conference selection, Wumi Agunbiade (14.7 ppg), while Temple's lone starter from last year, Victoria Macaulay, also collected preseason All-Conference honors. SJU's Ashley Prim collected preseason third-team honors and is among seven letterwinners returning to Hawk Hill this winter.
Defending regular season champion St. Bonaventure (31-4/14-0), which was picked seventh among the coaches, returns seven letterwinners from a team that advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 and tied the A-10 record for wins in a season (31). George Washington (11-18/4-10), under rookie head coach Jonathan Tsipis, was chosen to finish eighth and welcomes back a plethora of talent, including preseason All-Conference third-team honorees Danni Jackson and Tara Booker, along with Sara Mostafa, who missed the majority of last season with a broken hand.
La Salle, (14-17/7-7) voted to finish ninth in the coaches' poll, is led by senior Brittany Wilson (14.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg), a preseason All-Conference first team and All-Defensive team selection. Wilson is the only returning starter, but the Explorers gain the services of Pitt transfer Leeza Burdgess and Virginia Tech transfer Shanel Harrison. Harrison led Virginia Tech in both scoring (12.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.5 rpg) in 2010-11, while Burdgess led Pitt in rebounding (7.2 rpg) in 2011-12.
Following La Salle in this year's predicted order of finish is: Xavier (10th; 8-20/5-9) and Fordham (11th; 12-18/3-11); along with A-10 newcomers Butler (12th; 13-17/9-9 Horizon) and VCU (13th; 19-15/9-9 CAA). Saint Louis (14th; 11-20/4-10), Massachusetts (15th; 8-21/3-11) and Rhode Island (16th; 1-28/0-14) round out the 16-team field.
On the same ballot, the coaches selected the three preseason All-Conference teams. The first-team consists of Hailey, Hoover, Agunbiade, Wilson and Macaulay, while the second team features Okoro, Dayton's Ally Malott, Duquesne's Orsi Szecsi, Jasmine Watson of Massachusetts and Xavier's Jessica Pachko. The third team is comprised of Booker, Jackson, Bilney, Prim and Richmond's Becca Wann.
The preseason All-Defensive team consists of Charlotte's Jennifer Hailey, Duquesne's Jocelyn Floyd, Brittany Wilson of La Salle, St. Bonaventure's Alaina Walker, and Temple's Victoria Macaulay.
The 2012-13 season begins on Friday, November 9, as half of the A-10 teams are in action, including Duquesne's appearance in the preseason WNIT. The Dukes will play host to Liberty at 7:00 p.m. in the A.J. Palumbo Center. Meanwhile, Richmond hosts Longwood in the Robins Center and Dayton takes on Mississippi Valley State in the Maggie Dixon Classic in Chicago. Rookie head coach Jonathan Tsipis will make his debut as the Colonials host Texas-Arlington, while Temple welcomes Montana to Philadelphia. Saint Louis and first-year head coach Lisa Stone travel to Missouri and Fordham is on the road at in-state rival Albany.
At the conclusion of the regular season on March 3, the top 12 league teams will advance to the Atlantic 10 Championship in Philadelphia. First round action of the event begins on Friday, March 8 at Michael J. Hagan '85 Arena on the campus of Saint Joseph's University, with the top four teams earning a bye. Quarterfinal play continues on Saturday, March 9 in Philadelphia, while the semifinals will air live on CBS Sports Network at 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 10. The championship game, which will be held on Saturday, March 16, will be played at 7:00 p.m. at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The A-10's championship finale will mark the first women's collegiate game at the new-state-of-the art arena.
Last year, A-10 Champion Dayton and nationally-ranked St. Bonaventure were among the 64 teams selected to the 2012 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship, while Charlotte, Duquesne, Richmond, Saint Joseph's and Temple received invites to the 64-team Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). Additionally, the A-10 closed out the 2011-12 campaign ranked ninth among the 31 Division I Conferences in the final RPI Report, while six league teams finished among the top 100 RPI teams in the country, including St. Bonaventure (14), Dayton (37), Richmond (46), Temple (52), Saint Joseph's (66) and Duquesne (91).