FREDERICKSBURG, Va. - Defending champion and national semifinalist Christopher Newport was selected as the unanimous favorite to repeat in the 2017-18 Capital Athletic Conference Women's Basketball Preseason Poll. The Captains received nine first-place votes and totaled 81 points to grab the top spot in voting among the conference head coaches.
Mary Washington, which finished as the regular season and tournament runner-up in 2016-17 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, took second place in the voting with 70 points. Marymount, which advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 last season, received a first-place vote and 67 points to claim third in the poll.
York ranked fourth in the preseason voting with 59 points, with Salisbury (49) and Frostburg State (44) rounding out the projected playoff teams in fifth and sixth, respectively.
St. Mary's was seventh with 26 points, followed by Penn State Harrisburg (23 points), Wesley (19 points), and Southern Virginia (16 points).
The 2017-18 season tips off on Wednesday, Nov. 15 with eight CAC teams in non-conference action. CAC play opens in late November, with the CAC postseason set to begin on Feb. 20.
2017-18 CAC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll
Points (First-Place Votes)
|1.||Christopher Newport||81 (9)|
|8.||Penn State Harrisburg||23|
Below is a brief preview of each team entering the 2017 campaign:
CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT returns all five starters and over 97% of its scoring from its CAC championship and NCAA Final Four team from a season ago. The Captains posted a 29-3 overall record last season and became the third team in CAC history to make it to the national semifinals. The Captains have now made runs to at least the Sweet 16 in all but one season under Coach Bill Broderick. During his tenure, the Captains are 123-26 for a winning percentage of 82.6%. Led by All-Region forward and Preseason All-America forward Sam Porter, the Captains averaged 73.7 points per game and ranked second in the nation in total steals, and fourth in turnovers forced. Porter ranked third nationally with 116 steals and led the team in scoring and rebounding with 13.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest. The Captains return a trio of senior All-CAC performers in Porter, Makenzie Fancher and Devon Byrd.
FROSTBURG STATE head coach Carrie Saunders returns four players that started 10 or more games a year ago, including her team's second leading scorer and rebounder. Senior Sharyce Warren and sophomore Victoria Diggs averaged 12.3 and 11.3 points per game, respectively a year ago for a Bobcat squad that finished third in the CAC in scoring (68.0). Sophomores Sydney Stotler and Amanda Emory pulled down 153 and 129 rebounds as first-year players and will again lead the Bobcats in the post.
MARY WASHINGTON is coming off of a second consecutive season with a 24-5 record that included a trip to the NCAA tournament. Head coach Deena Applebury will rely on senior all-CAC performer Kendall Parker and senior Taylor Barton to lead the way this year. Key returners Jordan Pamlanye and Meghan Comer will look to help bring along a group of six freshman.
MARYMOUNT is looking to pick up right where they left off last season, returning the full squad except for graduating senior Kiki Laux. Headed by seniors Leah Hurst and Nicole Viscuso, the Saints enter the season as No. 14 in the D3hoops.com Poll after making a NCAA Sweet 16 run to cap off a 24-6 record in the 2016-17 campaign. With 10 players from last year's roster back on the squad, including four starters, they welcome six new faces to add depth on eighth-year Head coach Ashlee Roger's bench.
PENN STATE HARRISBURG is coming off a 7-18 season that included a road win over No. 7 Mary Washington. The Blue & White finished 5-13 in conference play picking up wins over Southern Virginia, St. Mary's, Wesley, and Mary Washington. The Lions are returning seven players from last year's roster including Tessa Dolce who was the team's second leading scorer. Harrisburg will begin the regular season on Nov.15th when they travel to face Carin.
ST. MARY'S is under new management in 2017-18 as C.K. Calhoun takes over the reins of the Seahawk women's basketball team. Coach Calhoun inherits a program which made the CAC Tournament five of the last six seasons while returning All-CAC performer senior guard Kerri Kline and the conference's third-leading rebounder, junior forward Kobe Chaney. This year's roster features seven upperclassmen who will look to provide strong leadership as St. Mary's navigates a challenging schedule and hopes to return to the conference playoffs.
SALISBURY is coming off its second straight 13-13 season and has made the CAC tournament all six seasons under head coach Kelly Baskow. Despite the loss of leading scorer and First Team All-CAC performer Lauren Rothfeld, the Sea Gulls return a wealth of experience, including three seniors who played all 26 games a season ago and started at least half of the team's games. Senior point guard Mary McDonagh will guide the team after averaging 7.9 points per game and ranking second in the conference with 4.6 assists per game. Junior forward Kaylyn French will lead the team on the defensive end after ranking seventh in the conference with 7.7 rebounds per game and ninth with 20 blocks.
Heather Roberts leads SOUTHERN VIRGINIA into the 2017-18 season with high expectations. The Knights are looking to draw upon their seasoned players to lead the team. Shelby Winsor, Jamilla Gambee, Alexus Barnes, Cory Stout, and Angel Tuisavura are all returning to the Knights lineup. During the 2016-17 season, Shelby Winsor led the team averaging 13.9 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game. Southern Virginia will took to their experienced players as they face off against their CAC opponents.
After graduating 1,000-point and 1,000-rebound player Brianna Johnson, WESLEY will lean on returning upperclassmen senior guards Alexus Stroud, Tiyanna Gibbs and junior Monshea Newsome-Murray. Stroud ranked fifth in the CAC a season ago in points per game (13.7). Gibbs notched 10.5 points per game in 2016-17 to place third on the team while Newsome-Murray led the team last season in assists (76), steals (58) and blocks (19).
YORK returns a strong core of players after the Spartans went 18-9 and 11-7 in the CAC in 2016-17. York's lone returning All-CAC performer, senior Morgan Kuehne, joins fellow seniors Katie Wagner and Beth Wiseley as returning Spartan starters. Kuehne led the balanced Spartan attack in scoring last year at 12.2 points per game while Wagner added 11.4 points per contest. Wiseley is York's top returning rebounder as the Spartans must replace the departed Sam Hruz and her 9.3 caroms and her 3.0 blocks per game. York also returns key senior Sam Mocniak and juniors Debria Hendricks and Katie McGowan.