The Philly Women’s Basketball season starts. Philly College Sports takes a capsule preview of the six area schools. The Big Five Title race can go to most any of the teams involved.
Villanova Wildcats – Coach Harry Perretta begins another season at the helm. Villanova was picked third in the Big East preseason poll. Guard Caroline Coyer was named to the All-Big East team. The junior averaged 10.2 points per game last season along with 4.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists. The Wildcats return 4 starters and 9 letter winners from last year’s team that went 23 – 9 overall and 12 – 6 in conference.
The season begins for Villanova on November 14 at the Chattanooga Tournament. The Wildcats also compete in the Gulf Coast Showcase in Naples, Florida late this month. The tournament includes Arizona State, Georgia Tech, Wisconsin – Green Bay, Connecticut, Vanderbilt, Minnesota, and the College of Charleston. In addition to the Big East opponents and the Philadelphia Big Five round robin. the Wildcats will host North Carolina State.
University of Pennsylvania Quakers – Coach Mike McLaughlin guided the Red and Blue to the Ivy League Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament last season. Penn returns a solid front court this season featuring Kara Bonenberger and Sydney Stipanovich.
The Quakers tip-off with a trip to Knoxville to meet the University of Tennessee. McLaughlin wants to schedule teams of national prominence to enhance the program. Penn will compete in the Big Five and meets Drexel on December 20. The Ivy schedule starts with the traditional opener against Princeton, the team they dethroned last season. The Tigers visit the Palestra on March 10.
Saint Joseph’s Hawks – Coach Cindy Griffin’s team went 23 – 10 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season falling to the eventual national champion UConn Huskies. SJU is predicted to finish third in the Atlantic 10. The team returns senior guard Natasha Cloud who was selected to the Atlantic 10 Preseason All-Conference First Team, and was also named to the preseason All-Defensive team. Junior forward Sarah Fairbanks earned Third Team honors.
The team starts the year on November 14 at Rutgers. SJU competes in two in-season tournaments; The Seton Hall Thanksgiving Tournament along with Saint Francis, Saint Peter’s and Seton Hall, and hosts the Hawk Classic which features Quinnipiac, CSUN, and Florida Gulf Coast. Saint Joe’s will visit Notre Dame coached by alum Muffet McGraw. In addition to the Atlantic 10 and Big Five games, the Hawks go to Drexel.
Drexel Dragons – Coach Denise Dillon’s Dragons team is the choice for the third spot in the CAA Preseason poll. Junior guard Rachel Pearson was selected to the Colonial Athletic Association second team. Pearson averaged 10.3 points per game last year.
In addition to the conference battles featuring games against Delaware and James Madison, Drexel meets city foes Penn and Saint Joseph’s. The Dragons compete in the Virginia Classic and play Miami (Ohio) and Virginia. The season begins at the DAC on November 16 against Cornell.
Temple Owls – The American Athletic Conference named sophomore guard Feyonda Fitzgerald was selected to the preseason All-AAC team. Fitzgerald led the team in scoring a year ago averaging 12.9 points per game to go along with 3 assists. The team was picked to finish fourth.
Coach Tonya Cardoza’s squad tips off November 14 hosting La Salle. In addition to conference games, most notably against defending national champion Connecticut (at UConn on January 14 and the Philadelphia visit on February 4) and the Big Five opponents, the Owls will play in the Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge. Temple will meet Georgetown, Kansas, Alabama, and Harvard. The Cherry and White host Rutgers and Florida State.
La Salle Explorers – Coach Jeff Williams’ team will be led by Alicia Cropper who was named to the Preseason All-Atlantic 10 Second Team. The Explorers were tabbed to finish 8th in the conference. Cropper averaged a team-leading 14.7 points per game, 16.2 in league play, and was named to the Conference Second Team and was a Big Five First Team pick.
La Salle tips off on November 14 at Temple. In addition to conference and Big Five opponents the Explorers play in two in-season tournaments. They will meet LIU Brooklyn and Towson in the Courtyard La Guardia Turkey Classic in Brooklyn. In December La Salle competes in the Holiday & Hoops Classic against Ohio U. and Georgia State.