USF women picked to finish 11th in Big East
USF's women's basketball team, which finished in a tie for 10th in the Big East last season, has been handed similar expectations for 2010-11, as a preseason poll of the league's coaches has the Bulls picked to finish 11th.
As was the case with USF's men's team, no Bulls players were among the 14 honored on the preseason all-conference teams -- USF coach Jose Fernandez will get a major part of his contributions from newcomers, including guard Andrea Smith, last year's Junior College Player of the Year.
The Bulls are seeking to make the postseason for the eighth year in a row, but six of those seven appearances were in the Women's NIT, and Fernandez is optimistic his Bulls are talented enough to compete for an NCAA Tournament berth. The Bulls have starters returning in sophomore guard KaNeisha Saunders and senior forward Leondra Doomes-Stephens, and get a strong post presence back in senior Porche Grant, who led the team in rebounding as a sophomore and junior before taking a redshirt last season.
Much like USF's men's team, Fernandez will get most of his toughest opponents at home -- four of the top five teams as picked in the coaches' preseason poll will come to the Sun Dome, including two-time defending NCAA champion Connecticut on Dec. 2. Big East women's teams have just one "mirror" opponent they play at home and on the road, and USF has a tough one in Georgetown, picked to finish third in the league.