Ashton Stansel, Sports Editor
It might seem biased to put UConn in first place, but it’s not. The Big East coach’s poll ranked them first unanimously, while the NCAA rankings have them in second place behind South Carolina. With the return of last year’s AP Player of the Year Paige Bueckers, now a sophomore, and the addition of Azzi Fudd, the number one prospect going into this season, the team has no shortage of powerhouse players. The further addition of Dorka Juhász, a transfer from Ohio State and a two time all-big-ten first team player, puts the Huskies in a great position for a big season.
Evan Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Who’s battling for second place? The Blue Demons sit at No. 2 in our ranking and have an extremely strong lineup due to the return of many key talents, including Sonya Morris, Lexi Held and Dee Bekelja. Morris, who averaged 19.3 points per game and was the team’s leading scorer last season, will be a major offensive piece. The Morrow twins — Nazlah and Anessah — should be a major storyline and both could be solid pieces. What sticks out was the Blue Devil’s poor finish last year, causing them to miss out on the 2021 NCAA tournament, and how the team will rebound. With the return of most of the team’s core and an improved game plan from head coach Doug Bruno, the potential is there and I could certainly see a return to the NCAA tournament for the Blue Demons.
3. Seton Hall
Stratton Stave, Campus Correspondent
Last year, Seton Hall concluded the Big East regular season in third place, ready to make a run in the conference tournament, before getting upset by six-seed Creighton in the first round. This year, the Pirates return with their top two scorers, forming a killer backcourt in Andra Espinoza-Hunter and most improved player Lauren Park-Lane. The key loss here is Desiree Elmore, who put up an impressive 17.4 points last year, leaving a hole to fill for junior Mya Jackson, who is expected to take a leap in production this year. The biggest question will be whether Seton Hall will be able to find a consistent big scorer, which they didn’t have last year. The most likely candidate is junior Mya Bembry, who will be a key determinant in the Pirates’ success as they look to make a deep run.
Jacob Sondik, Campus Correspondent
After getting to the Big East championship game before falling in the first round to Virginia Tech, Marquette will look to build on its 19-7 record that saw it win 14 of its18 conference games. Despite losing top scorer Selena Lott, the Golden Eagles return wth Preseason All-Big East Forward Lauren Van Kleunen, who was instrumental for Marquette’s impressive season. The Golden Eagles lost two of their top three playmakers in Lott and Camryn Taylor, but welcome back redshirt sophomores Jordan King and Chloe Marotta, supplemented with the addition of first year guard Makiyah Williams and extended minutes for redshirt players Claire Kaifers and Lisa Karlen, which will help head coach Megan Duffy in her third season at the helm.
Jonathan Synott, Associate Sports Editor
Coming off of a strong 2020-21 season that saw a quarterfinal appearance in the WNIT and a big upset of DePaul in the Big East Tournament, the Wildcats look to do some damage in the conference. Unanimous Preseason All-Big East First Team selection Maddy Siegrist will guide the pack, hoping to lead the conference in points and rebounds per game for the second straight year. Nova lost two starters in Sarah Mortensen and Raven James, but the return of graduate student and All-Big East Second Team member Brianna Herlihy should prove crucial to the team’s success. This is head coach Denise Dillon’s second year in the league and she already has some big upset wins under her belt. The Wildcats will try to improve upon a No. 4 Big East finish last season and surprise some people along the way.
6. St. John’s
Sam Zelin, Campus Correspondent
More than five years removed from a tournament berth and about a decade from the 2012 team that went further than any St. John’s women’s basketball squad has gone, the Red Storm look for improvement in Joe Tartamella’s tenth coaching season. Leilani Correa was selected to the All-Big East First Team for the 2020-21 season, and she returns for her junior season this year. At media day, she spoke about a change in culture for the team: “our whole thing this year is toughness, being tough and going hard in everything that we do. We are not backing down.” While they might not be the strongest of the Big East teams, St. John’s is certainly ready to compete, with Tartamella only five wins from becoming the coach with the most wins in program history.
Cole Stefan, Campus Correspondent
Creighton had a pretty hot stretch in the postseason last year, as it made its all the way to the Big East semifinals as the No. 6 seed and the second round of the WNIT. This year, the Blue Jays will look to repeat that success, but without the point production of Temi Carda, who graduated after a dominant season where she averaged 15.6 points a game. Sophomore Emma Ronsiek is expected to lead the scoring for the Blue Jays, and senior Tatum Rembao is not far behind in terms of her productive abilities. Senior Rachel Saunders and junior Carly Bachelor will continue getting playing time while sophomore Morgan Maly rounds out the starting five. The Blue Jays have a nice rotation and another strong season from all of their starters will have this team trending in the right direction.
Ajeeth Vellore, Campus Correspondent
The Providence Friars do not have a good program right now. After a poor 7-14 overall record in the 2020-21 season, along with a dismal 4-10 record in Big East play, it would take a lot of effort to right that ship this year. They lost two of three players who started every game, Chanell Williams and Kyra Spiwak, as well as three other main rotation contributors. Let’s also add in the fact that Jim Crowley, the sixth-year manager of the Friars, has not had a winning season with Providence since 2018-19 and holds a 61-88 overall coaching record. There’s not a lot to be positive about this season, but there is one bright spot: Mary Baskerville, who led the team in points and rebounds last year. In short, look for Providence to view this as a rebuilding year in the hopes of building a better team at some point down the road.
Taylor Coonan, Campus Correspondent
I don’t think I’m going to get a HOYA here, and that’s fine. The Hoyas go into the 2021-22 season with a 2-15 overall record, which ultimately speaks for itself. There really isn’t a whole lot of depth on this roster considering that there’s a Big 3 in Jillian Archer, Graceann Bennett and Kelsey Ransom. Ransom led the team with an average of 10.5 points per game, while Archer was top for rebounds and put up a 7.3 average. Bennett fits right into the middle with 7.5 points and 6.4 rebounds to round out their trio. We don’t hear a lot about sophomore Yasmin Ot, but I think she’s someone who will absolutely break through and I hope we’ll be hearing more of her. She really has the potential to lift the Hoyas this year after playing in all 17 games last season as a freshman, starting in just under half of them. If she can raise her 5.4 points average, she could be just what Georgetown needs on the court.
Nick Spinali, Campus Correspondent
After a 2020-21 season in which the Bulldogs finished above only Georgetown in the Big East and was bounced from the Big East Tournament in the first round, Butler will look for a drastic rebound heading into the new season. With standout players Okako Adika and Upe Atosu transferring to Texas Christan University and Colorado State, respectively, pressure will fall on guard Genesis Parker to lead Butler on a bounce-back campaign. Parker, a graduate student, was second on the team in scoring last year behind Adika, averaging 12.9 points per game — good enough for No. 17 in the Big East. Kurt Godlevske will be entering his eighth season as the head coach of the Bulldogs, and he’ll look to guide a team that is projected to finish dead last in the Big East according to the Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Nick Greco, Campus Correspondent
After finishing as the No. 9 seed in the Big East with a 2-8 conference record and 5-10 overall record, Xavier has a lot of building to do. Xavier returns Nia Clark and Kae Sutterfield, second and third in points per game respectively. They also lose A’riana Gray as a graduate transfer and Carrie Gross in her transfer out of the program, with Gray leading the team in scoring last year. Head coach Melanie Moore has set a reasonable goal of rising in the standings this year, aiming at “getting out of the bottom, we want to get to the middle, and that’s our goal.” Xavier finishes at No. 10 in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll, but could see some success if Hallman is able to quickly establish herself as a consistent scorer and a strong defender in the post as a 6’2” forward.