Media Day for Big East women’s basketball was on Tuesday, and that means the preseason poll of the league’s coaches. There are two bits of Marquette news in the preseason poll as Lauren Van Kleunen is one of the 10 women named to the preseason all-conference team and the Golden Eagles were picked to finish fourth in the Big East in 2021-22.
Let’s turn things over to the Marquette press release on Van Kleunen’s honor, which comes after being named Second Team All-Big East at the end of last season:
Van Kleunen started in all 26 games for the Golden Eagles in the 2020-21 season. She was second on the team in scoring last season averaging a career-high 13.2 points per game. She was ranked 16th in the league in scoring and 17th in rebounding last season. She scored in double figures in 20 of the team’s 26 games and scored 20-or-more in four of those games.
This is an unexpected sixth season at Marquette for Van Kleunen in a couple of different ways. First, Van Kleunen redshirted her first season on campus due to a blood clot issue. The fact that she played at all after that was discovered is a big deal on its own, and she’s had a great career since then. Van Kleunen opted to take advantage of the NCAA granting her an extra year of eligibility due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on last season, and so she’s back again this season.
In terms of her impact on MU’s history books, LVK is already #30 on Marquette’s all-time scoring list as she slipped past the 1,000 point marker late last season. Merely repeating her scoring total from last year would propel her into the top 20 without breaking a sweat and with a full season set to be played, she has a shot at the top 15. Van Kleunen is 16 rebounds away from 600 in her career and 25 away from passing Kerri Reaves for #19 all-time. She would be on pace to move into the top 12 all-time easily, and could push into the top 10 thanks to the full schedule and the chance of a deep postseason run.
Let’s go to the team poll results here.....
BIG EAST Preseason Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Poll
1. UConn, 100 points (10 1st place votes)
2. DePaul, 90 (1)
3. Seton Hall, 80
4. Marquette, 74
5. Villanova, 62
6. Creighton, 54
7. St. John’s, 51
8. Providence, 32
9. Georgetown, 27
10. Xavier, 18
11. Butler, 17
No surprise on the top spot going to the Huskies with every possible first place vote as coaches can’t vote for their own team. I don’t even have a complaint about the two teams in front of Marquette. I had DePaul in second myself as the way last year ended for the Blue Demons was an aberration to how things usually go for Doug Bruno’s teams, and Seton Hall had a good season last year and brings most of their contributors back. Marquette gets dinged here because of the loss of Selena Lott, who elected to enter the WNBA Draft at the end of last season instead of taking her extra year of eligibility, as well as the departure of starting forward Camryn Taylor, who transferred to Virginia. Given how much head coach Megan Duffy got from those two women last year, you can see how the coaches don’t immediately think that MU will be a close contender for second place behind UConn.... but at 80 points after Geno Auriemma’s first place vote, DePaul isn’t a unanimous second place choice on the other nine ballots, either. At the very least, the coaches clearly see Marquette as a top four team as there’s a bit of a drop to Villanova in fifth place. This will be Duffy’s third season in charge, and all she’s done in her first two seasons is out-perform her preseason poll position both times. Cross your fingers for three-for-three.
Let’s wrap up with the other individual honors which, unsurprisingly, are dominated by Connecticut. Sophomore Paige Bueckers was the unanimous choice for Preseason Player of the Year, while teammate Azzi Fudd was the unanimous choice for Preseason Freshman of the Year. I for one am glad to see that the coaches did not overthink either of these picks. Bueckers and Fudd are joined by three teammates on the Preseason All-Big East team, including Christyn Williams who was one of five unanimous choices for the 10 woman team.
Here’s the full list.
Big East Preseason Player of the Year
Paige Bueckers, UConn, So., G*
Big East Preseason Freshman of the Year
Azzi Fudd, UConn, Fr., G*
Preseason All-Big East Team
Christyn Williams, UConn, Sr., G
Olivia Nelson-Ododa, UConn, Sr., F
Aailyah Edwards, UConn, So., F
Sonya Morris, DePaul, Sr., G
Lexi Held, DePaul, Sr., G
Lauren Van Kleunen, Marquette, Grad., F
Leilani Correa, St. John’s, Jr., G
Andra Espinoza-Hunter, Seton Hall, Grad., G/F
Lauren Park-Lane, Seton Hall, Jr., G
Maddy Siegrist, Villanova, Jr., F