Yesterday, you got to see all of our picks for the men's basketball preseason awards in the Big East. It's Media Day for women's hoops on Wednesday, too, so let's turn our attention to that side of the conference....
Preseason Player Of The Year: Marissa Janning, Creighton
Believe it or not, last year's preseason award was the decider here for me. Last year, the coaches voted for Janning as the preseason Player of the Year, largely because she was the POY at the end of the 2013-14 season. Brittany Hrykno ended up surpassing Janning by the end of the 2014-15 season, but that's not really a reason to overlook Janning here. In addition to winning two of the last three Player of the Year votes from the coaches, Janning also finished as an all-Big East First Teamer a year ago. She is fifth amongst returning scorers from last season, fourth in assists, and seventh in three-point shooting percentage. If you want to make arguments for Seton Hall's Tabatha Richardson-Smith or Aliyyah Handford from St. John's, I'm willing to listen, though.
Freshman of the Year: Adrianna Hahn, Villanova
Here's how simple I kept this one: I went to Prospects Nation, I pulled up their 2015 top prospects list, and I scrolled until I found a Big East player. Hahn, a 5'8" guard from Delaware, is ranked #55 in the country, and thus she gets the nod here. Runners up included forward Jordan Agustus from St. John's (#69), Butler forward Brittany Ward (#75), and Marquette wing Amani Wilborn (#86).
All-Big East Team
Caroline Coyer, Villanova
Aliyyah Handford, St. John's
Marissa Janning, Creighton
Megan Podkowa, DePaul
Tabatha Richardson-Smith, Seton Hall
Ok, so here's how this works. Last year, the Big East announced a 10 player all-conference team, without including Janning as one of the 10. Naming 11 all-conference players before the season is INSANE, so I'm going to take the men's format that we used in yesterday's post: five players, including Janning, the POY pick. Coyer and Handford joined Janning on the all-BE First Team back in March, so those were easy choices. With four seniors coming back from last year's all-conference Second Team, choices had to be made. I went with Podkowa, last year's conference tournament MVP, to represent my pick to win the Big East, and Richardson-Smith, because it gives us one more team to get involved instead of doubling up on St. John's (Danaejah Grant) or DePaul (Chanise Jenkins).
Top Five Teams
2. St. John's
4. Seton Hall
As mentioned, DePaul's my pick to win the league this season. Yes, they lost some seniors, including perennial all-Big East First Teamer and last year's Player of the Year, Brittany Hrynko. I will not miss her, because I have always had to triple check that I was spelling her name correctly. The Blue Demons return Podkowa and Jenkins, plus Jessica January, who is a junior, which means I have two more seasons worth of being reminded of January Jones whenever I type her name.
Handford and Grant were two of the four best scorers in the league last season, and they're back for another go-round, so that gets them into second. I went with Villanova over Seton Hall because the Wildcats only lost Emily Leer as far as significant contributors from a 12-6 season a year ago, while I'll have to rely on SHU coach Tony Bozzella reassembling the pieces after losing the unrelated Simmonses from last year's squad. Butler returns Loryn Goodwin, the only non-junior/senior from last year that landed in the top 10 in scoring, plus Belle Obert is back for a graduate season with the Bulldogs after playing four years of volleyball for them.
As for Marquette.... well, I really don't have any idea where to plug them. They return almost nothing from a team that went 9-22, and Chelsey Gibson was relegated to crutches at Marquette Madness. If the eight (yes, eight) freshmen can play, like, at all, maybe MU challenges for a top half spot. Otherwise they're going to be dusting it up with Providence and Georgetown in the bottom of the conference again this season.