The expected coronation happened earlier than expected on Wednesday, as the Big East released the preseason women’s basketball awards in the morning instead of in the afternoon right before the media session. In any case, Marquette women’s basketball was tabbed as the unanimous favorite to win the Big East this season, picking up all nine available votes. MU head coach Carolyn Kieger was prevented by rule from voting for her own team.
The Golden Eagles dominated the individual awards as well. Junior Allazia Blockton was the unanimous choice as preseason Player of the Year, while fellow juniors Erika Davenport and Natisha Hiedeman were named to the preseason all-Big East team.
Blockton was the Big East’s leading scorer a year ago (17.1 ppg), and also finished 11th in rebounding (6.0/game) and 10th in assists (3.2/game). She is the only returning player in the league who can claim top 11 finishes in all three stat categories, and the only returning unanimous pick from last year’s postseason all-Big East team. To be quite honest, if she had not been a unanimous choice for preseason Player of the Year, the Big East should have launched a full scale investigation to determine who had made a terrible mistake.
DePaul picked up Kieger’s vote in the team polling and ended up finishing a clear second. There’s a drop off from the Blue Demons to Villanova and Creighton in third and fourth place, and then another drop to Georgetown, Seton Hall, and St. John’s behind them. Butler, Providence, and Xavier wrap up the league, as the Musketeers dodge being a unanimous choice to finish last by one point.
That top five is close to what I had picked in our preview article. I like Creighton more than the coaches do, and the coaches like Villanova waaaaaaaaaay more than I do. St. John’s was my fifth place team, but the Wildcats popped up here to push them down the charts.
When it comes to the preseason all-league team, I picked a five player team, and the four non-Blockton players I named — Davenport, Creighton’s Audrey Faber, Butler’s Tori Schickel, and Georgetown’s Dionna White — all landed on the Big East’s 11 player team. Congratulations to me on throwing a golf ball through a basketball hoop, I guess. Villanova’s Adrianna Hahn was a near miss, and she earned one of the 11 spots.
Hiedeman was a possibility in my mind, and once you expand the roster this big, she has to be a shoo-in. Akina Wellere and Jovanna Nogic are smart picks by the coaches as well. I’m not 100% sure about Tanita Allen and Amara Coleman from DePaul, nor Seton Hall’s Jaquan Jackson as all-league votes, but that’s what the coaches went with, and I also didn’t dive too deep past my five woman team.
Hiedeman averaged 13.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists a year ago while shooting 37% from long range. Davenport finished second in the Big East in rebounding with 9.2 caroms per game, and also chipped in 13.2 points and 1.5 assists.
We should wrap up with the Big East’s preseason Freshman of the Year. That honor went to Dee Bekelja from DePaul. She’s the best class of 2017 player in the Big East this season according to ESPN, who had her at #94 in the country. St. John’s Qadashah Hoppie was my pick based on her #44 ranking from Prospects Nation, and Seton Hall’s Selena Philoxy could make a run at the postseason trophy as well.