Women's Basketball: Coaches Pick Marquette Eleventh

Sarina Simmons (42) and Chelsie Butler (34) look to improve on last year's 14-17 record. - David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

It's Media Day for women's basketball, and that means preseason coaches polls!

The good news from last year's 14-17 record from the women's basketball team was that there were no seniors on that team. Everyone on the team returns a year older and a year more experienced.

Unfortunately, in a conference where five players are unanimous selections for the preseason all-conference team, you have to show something before you can get any kind of respect. That means after going 4-12 in league play and returning a roster that still only has one senior on it, the Big East coaches picked Marquette to finish in the bottom half of the league in 11th place.

From looking at the point totals in the polling results, it seems like there are clear tiers of strength in the Big East's expected results. Connecticut (duh) leads the top tier with Notre Dame close behind with the three first place votes that the Huskies didn't get and Louisville not far behind them. Then there's a bit of a gap before Rutgers, St. John's and DePaul are all clustered together. There's a big drop off after the Blue Demons to a trio of Syracuse, Georgetown and USF before another drop to Villanova, Marquette and Cincinnati. One last drop off ends with Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and Providence in the basement of the league.

If I had to guess, I'd say that Marquette surpasses expectations this season. Last year, Marquette was playing shorthanded off the bat when Courtney Thomas was already out for the season when Lauren Tibbs went down in the first game of the year. They had a strong non-conference performance and were sitting at 4-6 in Big East play after a win against Pittsburgh that also ultimately cost them Apiew Ojulu for the rest of the regular season. The loss of Ojulu meant more playing time for Chelsie Butler. Unfortunately, she turned her ankle late in the first half of the very next game. While Marquette had winnable games down the stretch, it's hard to win games with only seven healthy players, and MU lost the remainder of their regular season games.

With everyone healthy and two new roster additions - Brooklyn Pumroy and Ashley Santos - Marquette is at least deeper than last year, which should go a long way towards helping them through the grind of the regular season.

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