As a part of Media Day at Madison Square Garden, the Big East announced the preseason awards for the 2015-16 women's basketball season on Wednesday afternoon.
The only item amongst the awards that concerns the Marquette Golden Eagles is the team poll. MU finished ninth in the coaches' voting, earning 15 points and ending up just one point in front of 10th place Providence. Given that head coach Carolyn Kieger returns a grand total of five points per game from last year's team that went 9-22, I think it's something of an accomplishment that they weren't a unanimous choice to finish last.
Here's how the voting ended up shaking out:
1. DePaul, 80 points (8)
2. St. John's, 66 points (1)
3. Villanova, 64 points (1)
4. Creighton, 57 points
5. Seton Hall, 55 points
6. Xavier, 37 points
7. Georgetown, 34 points
8. Butler, 28 points
9. Marquette, 15 points
10. Providence, 14 points
The Blue Demons seemed to me to be an obvious choice to pick to win the league this season, but they were not a unanimous choice as someone who's not DePaul's Doug Bruno picked either St. John's or Villanova. There appears to be three obvious groupings in the polling: 1 - DePaul; 2 - St. John's, Villanova, Creighton, Seton Hall; 3 - Xavier, Georgetown, Butler; 4 - Marquette and Providence. While there might be that kind of sectioning in terms of the preseason opinions on the teams, it's important to remember that Marquette ended up upsetting eventual Big East regular season champion Seton Hall last season. There might not be that much separating these squads in the long run.
Let's turn our attention to the individual awards
Preseason Player of the Year: Aliyyah Handford, St. John's
My pick was Creighton's Marissa Janning, but that was largely stemming from the coaches showing favor towards Janning in the past. Handford was the Big East's leading scorer a year ago, and she finished in the top 10 in rebounding and top five in steals, too. She's absolutely a worthy choice as Player of the Year.
Preseason Freshman of the Year: Brittany Ward, Butler
I go 0-2 on picking the best newcomer to the Big East, as I miss on both the men's and women's basketball rookies. Adrianna Hahn was my pick based on Prospects Nation's top 150 rankings, but Ward was the next best recruit on their list. I'm fine with being wrong here.
Preseason All-Big East Team:
Blaire Langlois, Butler
Marissa Janning, Creighton
Sydney Lamberty, Creighton
Megan Podkowa, DePaul
Chanise Jenkins, DePaul
Dorothy Adomako, Georgetown
Tabatha Richardson-Smith, Seton Hall
Danaejah Grant, St. John's
Sarah Beal, Providence
Caroline Coyer, Villanova
Briana Glover, Xavier
No idea why the Big East uses two different models for the all-conference teams in men's and women's basketball, but there you go. All of my picks for the all-conference team made it into this 11 woman team, with the exception of Aliyyah Handford, who was left out since she's the Player of the Year. My five were pretty obvious choices for the all-league squad, so I didn't have to dig too deep to identify other candidates. I'm just glad that I didn't have to try to pull six more players into the fray.
Matt Velazquez from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel made an interesting but unsurprising note about the all-conference team: Every team except for Marquette is represented in the 11 women that were chosen. It's unsurprising because with Shantelle Valentine and McKayla Yentz not being major contributors to last year's team, there's no one on Marquette's roster that could justifiably supplant any of the other players on the all-Big East group.