USF women's hoops picked 11th in Big East
Preseason polls are often determined by the known commodities returning for teams, so it's no surprise that USF's women's basketball team, which has eight newcomers this season, has been picked to finish 11th out of 16 teams in the Big East in the league's annual prseason poll of its coaches.
USF coach Jose Fernandez, in New York with senior center Jessica Lawson and sophomore guard Jasmine Wynne today, said Tuesday that his team takes pride in its WNIT championship last season but has its goals firmly set on returning to the NCAA Tournament. To do that, they'll almost assuredly have to finish in the league's top eight, if not higher.
The league also released a 12-player all-conference preseason team, with three honorable mentions, and USF was not represented in those 15 players honored. Defending national champion Connecticut has been picked unanimously to win the league.
The Bulls return five key contributors from last season -- guards Janae Stokes and Wynne, and three experienced frontcourt players in Lawson, Porche Grant and Melissa Dalembert. Newcomers expected to make an immediate impact are junior college transfers Sequoyah Griffin and Leondra Doomes-Stephens, with freshman Kaneisha Saunders expected to back up Wynne at point guard and freshman forward Tiara Johnson competing for time in the frontcourt rotation.
USF will have closed scrimmages at Florida on Nov. 1 and Florida Atlantic on Nov. 7, then will unveil their WNIT championship banner on Nov. 13 against Florida A&M.