NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The Creighton women's basketball team was picked to finish second during its first season in the BIG EAST Conference in a preseason poll of league coaches on Wednesday, Oct. 16. Meanwhile, senior Sarah Nelson and sophomore Marissa Janning were named to the 2013-14 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team.
Nelson was a member of the 2012-13 MVC All-Defensive Team as well as an All-MVC First Team Selection. Janning was the MVC Freshman of the Year and also a member of the All-MVC First Team. This is the first Preseason honor for either Nelson or Janning.
DePaul, which earned an at-large bid to the 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, is the top choice to win the league title based on the results of the 2013-14 BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Blue Demons, who have seven letterwinners and three starters back from last year’s NCAA squad, finished with 79 points in the poll and received eight of 10 first-place votes. Head coach Doug Bruno led DePaul to an overall record of 21-12 and 9-7 in the conference last season. Back on the hardwood this season are junior guard Brittany Hrynko, the league’s top returning scorer at 14.7 points per game and the BIG EAST Most Improved Co-Player of the Year last season, and senior forward Katherine Penny, who added 12.9 points and 4.9 rebounds an outing.
Creighton finished in second place in the poll with 67 points, including two first-place votes. The Bluejays are coming off a 25-8 season and a trip to the NCAA Championship. Head coach Jim Flanery welcomes back sophomore guard Marissa Janning (12.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg) and senior forward Sarah Nelson (11.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg) as Creighton embarks on its inaugural year in the BIG EAST.
St. John’s claimed third place with 62 points. In his first season at the helm of the Red Storm, head coach Joe Tartamella led his squad to an overall record of 18-13 and a three-way tie for third place with an 11-5 mark in BIG EAST play. Three starters from last year’s team are back for another season, including sophomore guard Aliyyah Handford, a member of the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team who netted 11.7 points per game in conference action.
In fourth place in the poll is Villanova, which tallied 56 points. The Wildcats finished last season at 21-12 overall and 9-7 in the BIG EAST. Head coach Harry Perretta lost his top two scorers from last season, but will be bolstered by the guard tandem of Caroline Coyer and Devon Kane. Coyer averaged 7.4 points per game, despite missing 11 games due to a broken hand, while Kane contributed 6.5 points and 2.4 assists an outing.
Marquette is right on the heels of Villanova, finishing in fifth place with 55 points.
Several players return from head coach Terri Mitchell’s WNIT squad, including senior forward Katherine Plouffe and junior guard Arlesia Morse. Plouffe was a member of the All-BIG EAST Second Team, averaging 12.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, and Morse registered 12.4 points and 3.8 rebounds a night for the Golden Eagles.
Coming in sixth place was Georgetown. The Hoyas returns six players from last year's squad, including second-leading scorer Andrea White. White averaged 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game during her junior campaign.
Newcomer Butler placed seventh in the preseason poll. The Bulldogs are coming off a 17-14 season and a trip to the WNIT. Head coach Beth Couture will rely on the efforts of senior guard/forward Daress McClung, an Atlantic 10 Second Team selection who recorded 16.4 points and 9.0 rebounds an outing last season.
Finishing in eighth place in the poll is Providence. Second-year head coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl returns five letterwinners from last year’s squad, including junior guard Tori Rule, the Friars’ leading returning scorer. She netted 14.4 points per game and also contributed 3.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
Xavier came in ninth place. Head coach Amy Waugh, a former player and assistant coach for the Xavier program, introduces five letterwinners and seven newcomers for the Musketeers’ first season in the BIG EAST. Senior guard Ashley Wanninger is the team’s top returning scorer, averaging 9.3 points per game last season.
Seton Hall rounds out the poll in 10th place. Tony Bozzella takes over the reigns as head coach of the Pirates, who return three starters and 11 letterwinners overall. Second-leading scorer and assist leader Ka-Deidre Simmons is back for the Blue and White (11.5 ppg, 3.9 apg), along with Alexis Brown, who led the team in rebounding a year ago with 5.7 boards a night.
2013-14 Preseason Coaches’ Poll
2013-14 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year Brittany Hrynko, DePaul
2013-14 BIG EAST Preseason Rookie of the Year Shayla Cooper, Georgetown
2013-14 BIG EAST Preseason All-BIG EAST Team Daress McClung, Butler, G/F, Sr., 6-0, Indianapolis, Ind. Marissa Janning, Creighton, G, So., 5-8, Watertown, Minn. Sarah Nelson, Creighton, F, Sr., 6-0, Omaha, Neb. Jasmine Penny, DePaul, F, Sr., 6-1, Logansport, Ind. Andrea White, Georgetown, F, 6-0, Sr., Lancaster, Va. Katherine Plouffe, Marquette, F, Sr., 6-3, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Tori Rule, Providence, Jr., G, 5-7, Minneapolis, Minn. Aliyyah Handford, St. John’s, G, So., 5-9, Newark, N.J. Ka-Deidre Simmons, Seton Hall, G, R-Jr., 5-8, Newark, N.J. Caroline Coyer, Villanova, G, So., 5-10, Oak Hill, Va.
2013-14 BIG EAST Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention Arlesia Morse, Marquette, G, Jr., 5-10, Flint, Mich. Ashley Wanninger, Xavier, G, Sr., 5-10, Cincinnati, Ohio Eugenia McPherson, St. John’s, G, R-Sr., 5-8, North Babylon, N.Y.