Shoutout to the Big East for publishing the 2018-19 women’s basketball preseason poll bright and early in the morning so we don’t have to wait until midday when the actual programming at Madison Square Garden gets started.
As a result, we get to say these three very exciting sentences: Marquette Golden Eagles women’s basketball is the co-favorite to win the Big East this season. Allazia Blockton is the unanimous choice for Big East Preseason Player of the Year. Erika Davenport, Natisha Hiedeman, and Amani Wilborn are part of the 11 woman preseason all-Big East team.
That’s an awful lot of accolades, but they’re all well deserved. Although I will add this: Danielle King, as seems usual at this point, is being completely overlooked.
Blockton was the preseason and postseason POY a year ago, so it’s no surprise that the top scorer and #10 rebounder in the Big East last season gets the nod from every coach in the league as the best player at the start of the new campaign. She will become Marquette’s all-time leading scorer at some point this season, and the league office says that she is just 80 points away from becoming one of the 20 best scorers in Big East conference play history.
For whatever reason, the Big East has an 11 woman preseason all-conference team. I don’t know why it’s different than the men’s side of the aisle, but it is, so here we are. Davenport averaged 11.7 points and 8.5 rebounds for MU a year ago, and according to Her Hoops Stats, she was a top 100 offensive rebounder in the country for the third straight season. Hiedeman is coming off of a season where she averaged 13.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per night. She’s on track to become Marquette’s all-time leader in made three-pointers, as well as enter the top ten in both assists and points. Wilborn has been a slightly overlooked component of Marquette’s roster over the past three seasons, but her all-around play can not be ignored. She averaged 12.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and a team high four assists per game as a follow-up to winning Big East Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2017.
Here’s the rundown on the predicted order of finish including points earned and first place votes in parenthesis.
Coaches can’t vote for their own teams, so they’re just voting for nine teams in the poll. That means nine points for first place, eight for second, and so on. If you do the math, Marquette and DePaul split the first AND second place votes exactly down the middle with five and four respectively. That also explains Villanova finishing third with 57 points when 63 points would be the maxed out total for getting every third place vote. Past DePaul and Marquette, the Big East is a complete toss up in the top half of the league. There’s just nine points worth of votes separating third place and sixth place, so the competition for earning wins to pick up an NCAA tournament berth is going to be hot and heavy in the league this season.
Moving on to the other individual award...
Preseason Freshman of the Year: Kadaja Bailey, St. John’s
That was my pick as well in our preseason awards article, so it’s no surprise that the consensus top 100 recruit picked up the award from the coaches. It’s the first preseason FOY for the Red Storm since 1988.
Preseason All-Big East Team
Jaylyn Agnew, Creighton
Kelly Campbell, DePaul
Erika Davenport, Marquette
Audrey Faber, Creighton
Mary Gedaka, Villanova
Mart’e Grays, DePaul
Natisha Heideman, Marquette
Jovana Nogic, Providence
Tori Schickel, Butler
Dionna White, Georgetown
Amani Wilborn, Marquette
Agnew, Campbell, Grays, and Schickel are all unanimous choices here. I’m honestly a little bit surprised by Agnew getting the unanimous nod over Faber, as I had Faber as an all-Big East First Teamer at the end of last season. That’s also why I had Faber in my all-league team over Grays. I’m a little surprised by White not getting a unanimous vote after being a First Team honoree last season, but hey, that’s the magic of trying to get nine people to agree on something.
Marquette opens the season on Tuesday, November 6th, when they welcome South Dakota State to the McGuire Center. It will be a mid-day start, as MU will be hosting Milwaukee Public School students at the game.