Oct. 22, 2009
New York, NY -
The University of Louisville women's basketball team was picked to finish tied for third in the BIG EAST preseason poll. The selections were made by the league's 16 head coaches, who were not permitted to select their own teams. The Cardinals (34-5, 14-2 BIG EAST) and DePaul (23-10, 10-6) tied for third in the BIG EAST Preseason Poll with 171 points each.
The Cardinals are coming off their best season in program history. Louisville made its first national championship game appearance, set a school record for wins in a season with 34 and finished the year ranked a program-high No. 2 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll. As the No. 2 seed in the BIG EAST Championship, Louisville played for the league title for the second straight year. Junior guard Deseree' Byrd was a preseason honorable mention pick. Byrd returns as the Cards' leading scorer after averaging 7.6 points and 5.0 assists last season.
The University of Connecticut, the defending NCAA Champion, was picked unanimously to win the 2009-10 BIG EAST women's basketball regular-season title. Notre Dame earned the other first-place vote.
Connecticut garnered 225 points in this year's poll. Last season, the Huskies went 39-0 en route to the NCAA Championship title and had a 16-0 record in league play. UConn was undefeated through the regular season for the seventh time and had a perfect record in overall play for the third time in program history. The Huskies became the first Division I basketball program - men's or women's - to record a perfect record and win each game by 10 points or more. UConn enters the 2009-10 season having won either the BIG EAST regular-season or championship title in each of the last 16 seasons.
Notre Dame returns its entire squad from 2008-09 that produced a 22-9 overall record and made its 14th NCAA appearance. The Fighting Irish earned 210 points and one first-place vote in the preseason poll. Notre Dame finished tied for fourth (10-6) in the BIG EAST standings a year ago and advanced to the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals. Senior Ashley Barlow and redshirt-senior Lindsay Schrader are both 2009-10 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team members, and are joined by the highly-touted Skylar Diggins, the BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year.
DePaul is one of only 14 teams in the nation to compete in the NCAA Championship in each of the last seven seasons. The Blue Demons advanced to the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals last year as the No. 6 seed, although they ended the regular season in a tie for fourth place with a 10-6 mark. DePaul finished the season receiving votes in the final Associated Press poll and have received early preseason consideration. The Blue Demons will be led by 2009-10 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team members senior Deirdre Naughton and sophomore Keisha Hampton.
The next two teams in the poll - in fifth and sixth place - are separated by only 11 points. Pittsburgh was selected fifth with 167 points, followed by Rutgers at 156 points. Syracuse, Georgetown, West Virginia and Marquette were bunched closely together. Syracuse was picked seventh with 126 points, while Georgetown (124), West Virginia (121) and Marquette (111) were right behind.
USF was picked 11th and St. John's came in at 12th with 86 and 84 points, respectively. Villanova was selected 13th, followed by Seton Hall, Providence and Cincinnati.
The 2010 BIG EAST Women's Basketball Championship returns to the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., for the seventh straight year. After a successful championship in 2009 that saw attendance increases and again was the national leader among other conferences, the five-day, 15-game event returns March 5-9, 2010. All 16 teams battle for the conference title and will earn the league's automatic bid to the 64-team NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship.
2009-10 Preseason BIG EAST Coaches' Poll
1. Connecticut (15) 225
2. Notre Dame (1) 210
3. DePaul 171
5. Pittsburgh 167
6. Rutgers 156
7. Syracuse 126
8. Georgetown 124
9. West Virginia 121
10. Marquette 111
11. USF 86
12. St. John's 84
13. Villanova 78
14. Seton Hall 33
15. Providence 31
16. Cincinnati 26
*First-place votes in parentheses
2009-10 Preseason Awards
Preseason Player of the Year
Maya Moore, Connecticut, Jr., F
Preseason Freshman of the Year
*Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame, G (South Bend, Ind.)
Preseason All-BIG EAST Team^
Ashley Barlow, Notre Dame, Sr., G
*Tina Charles, Connecticut, Sr., C
Keisha Hampton, DePaul, So., F
Tiffany Hayes, Connecticut, So., G
Nicole Michael, Syracuse, Sr., F
*Maya Moore, Connecticut, Jr., F
Deirdre Naughton, DePaul, Sr., G
Liz Repella, West Virginia, Jr., G
*Angel Robinson, Marquette, Jr., G
Kahla Roudebush, Cincinnati, Sr., G
Lindsay Schrader, Notre Dame, R-Sr., G
Da'Shena Stevens, St. John's, So., F
^ - an extra member has been added to the preseason team due to a tie in voting
Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention
Deseree' Byrd, Louisville, Jr., G
Kalana Greene, Connecticut, Sr., G
Brittany Ray, Rutgers, Sr., G
* - unanimous selections