The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

GOLDEN EAGLE: Huskies still the class of the Big East



Can you name the last time Geno Auriemma failed to take the Huskies to the NCAA Tournament? Dig all the way back to 1988. Auriemma’s teams don’t fool around, evidenced by their five straight Final Four appearances, two of those resulting in championships. Receiving 12 out of a possible 15 first-place votes in the preseason Big East coaches poll, the Huskies should once again finish out on top.


Yes, the Fighting Irish finished first last year in the Big East standings, and don’t be surprised if they do it again this season. Senior guard Skylar Diggins (16.8 ppg, 5.7 ast) has been tabbed as the Big East preseason player of the year and is backed by a solid core of sophomores and juniors who have the best chance out of any other team in the conference to beat Connecticut.


The Cardinals are expected to make plenty of noise after finishing tied for sixth last season. Louisville made the tournament last season and advanced to the second round before losing to Maryland. Junior guard Shoni Schimmel will lead the way for the Cardinals, who will be using their experience to their best advantage; the team has seven juniors and seniors who will want to show the freshmen and sophomores how to make a deep tournament run.

(4) ST. JOHN’S

The Red Storm will be an interesting team to watch this season. If Notre Dame and Louisville fall out of the picture (for injuries or any other reason), St. John’s would automatically become the Big East candidate for the second overall seed. Three of the four top scorers return, but the team will need to improve on its 41.3 team field goal percentage. If St. John’s can continue to stifle opponents on the defensive end (37.9 opponent field goal percentage last year), it may not need to worry about the offense.


The Scarlet Knights lost their two top scorers to graduation, but coach C. Vivian Stringer spread out the playing time enough last season so that all players should be comfortable to step up and take charge. Rutgers did not have a player last year average more than 30 minutes per game, and all of last year’s freshmen averaged at least 10 minutes per game, so the team should be poised for some big upset wins based on these young players getting the exposure they need.



Watch out for the Blue Demons. DePaul is returning last year’s Big East scoring leader, Anna Martin (19.1 ppg), and will probably be the league’s biggest threat from 3-point range. In addition to Martin (64 3-PFG), sophomores Brittany Hrynko (58) and Megan Rogowski (53) are both returning and will want to light it up from deep. DePaul can easily finish fourth in the conference if it can pick up a few key upset victories.


Despite finishing with a subpar 6-10 conference record last year, the Orange made it all the way to the WNIT semifinals, which surprised a good amount of fans. Syracuse managed to average almost 69 points per game last year on just 37.9 percent shooting, so the primary goal for the Orange this season will be to boost that abysmal field goal percentage and maybe, just maybe, they’ll earn a spot in the Big Dance.


The Hoyas finished fourth in the conference last year, but the eighth-place prediction by Big East coaches may be because Georgetown has changed its head coach. Senior guard Sugar Rodgers (18.5 ppg) will be asked to prove the critics wrong and use her long-range shooting to her advantage (made 46 percent of the Hoyas’ 3-pointers last season).


Even though South Florida has five returning players over 6-foot-1, the Bulls were out-rebounded by 4.7 boards per game, which was an important factor in several of their losses. USF struggles to handle the ball (0.79 assist to turnover ratio) and its 69.0 percent foul shooting didn’t help its cause last year. Despite all of these mediocre stats, the Bulls made it to the third round of the WNIT. Don’t expect that same magic this season though.


The Wildats return seven seniors, most prominently forward Laura Sweeney. She was tabbed by Big East coaches as a preseason conference honorable mention after leading the Wildcats in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage, steals and blocks in 2011-’12. Villanova would be a true contender if it could rely on a player besides Sweeney, but that won’t likely be the case here.



As coach Terri Mitchell has expressed, the Golden Eagles have lacked offensive efficiency recently. Marquette will need to focus its offense around junior forward Katherine Plouffe, who led the team in scoring and rebounding last season. Despite having a seemingly easy conference road schedule, the task is always more difficult than it sounds. Marquette will need to solve its offensive woe, and until then it looks like it will be another rebuilding year.


Cincinnati won 16 games last season after winning just nine the previous year, so why aren’t coaches thinking the Bearcats can have a 20-plus win campaign? It doesn’t exactly appear as if Cincy is going to wow fans in many facets of its game; 57.1 points per game, 65 percent foul shooting, 32 rebounds per game and an ever-improving group of Big East teams give everyone reason to believe this season will be less-than-stellar for the ’Cats.


Pittsburgh did not win a single conference game last year. Zilch. Zero. It’s tough to win games in the Big East when you shoot 24 percent from long-range and get outscored an average of 12 points per contest. Add the fact that the Panthers don’t have a single senior on the roster, and suddenly it looks like a true nightmare. They can consider themselves fortunate they don’t need to play Connecticut twice.


The Pirates were predicted to finish tied for 13th because coaches were skeptical of their lack of getting to the foul line (15.4 attempts per game) and poor ball handling (0.6 assist to turnover ratio). The team also lost its high scorer, Jasmine Crew (18.6 ppg). All things considered, Seton Hall shouldn’t be making a surprise 8-8 conference finish after going 1-15 in 2011-’12.


The Friars will no doubt have their work cut out for them; Providence has lost its top two scorers, top shot-blocker, top rebounder and assist leader. Teya Wright. She accounted for 27 percent of Providence’s offensive rebounds. It will be left up to senior guard Symone Roberts to lead the way (8.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg). After going 5-11 last year in conference action, though, it may be hard to believe this team finishes in dead last.

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