The Villanova women's basketball team was voted third in the preseason Big East poll at the conference's media day in New York City on Wednesday. DePaul was unanimously picked to win the conference.
Junior guard Caroline Coyer was voted to the preseason All-Big East team. She led all returning Villanova players with 10.2 points per game. Coyer was the only Wildcat picked to the squad, but Harry Perretta always works in a large number of players each game, so individual stats may not be as gaudy as you might see elsewhere.
"It's a great honor that the committee has that kind of respect for me as a player. That being said, it is preseason for a reason," Coyer said. "The accolades and preseason ratings and all that stuff are nice, but we'll be back in the gym tomorrow to get to work as a team in order to prove ourselves these next few months!"
The top four teams in the poll-- DePaul, St. John's (2nd), Nova, and Creighton (4th)-- all matched their 2014 predictions with their 2013 finish. The Demons ran away with the regular season title, finishing 15-3 in-conference and 29-7 overall. Villanova was 12-6 against Big East foes last year.
Coyer, who was the Big East's 2013 Sixth Man of the Year, joins her twin sister Katherine as two of the likely many leaders on this older, more experienced squad. Last year, Perretta's team had to handle losing nearly half of its offensive output from the previous year as Laura Sweeney, Rachel Roberts, and a few other seniors had all graduated. Nevertheless, the Wildcats reached the NIT Tournament, and won two in-season tournaments as well. The season was certainly not a loss.
This year, the main force that needs replacing is Devon Kane. Last year's senior leader scored over 1,000 points in her career, and led the 'Cats with 13 points and 4.4 assists per game in 2013-14. But just as there was two years ago, there seems to be a collective leadership for this upcoming season.
On being a senior leader, forward Taylor Holeman noted, "I'm learning to be more about the team instead of myself individually because we all win and lose together. I also think I have been reminded that I was once new, so I have to be patient and willing to help out."
Holeman, along with fellow seniors Lauren Burford and Emily Leer, will likely see a majority of the minutes alongside the Coyers, although there is a possibility for a lot of players to step up in a big way. Juniors Kavunaa Edwards and Kendall Burton will certainly see some time, including some starts, and last year's freshmen Megan Quinn, Samantha Wilkes, and Jordan Dillard will provide depth for a Perretta-led squad that knows its identity as a 3-point monster that plays drawn-out, low-scoring games.
"Our style of play is very different from DePaul and St. John's in that they're more 'run and gun' and we tend to be a bit more deliberate on offense, much like Creighton," Katherine Coyer said. "Anything is possible in this Big East. On any given day anyone can beat anyone else... We'll just have to take it one game at a time."
Brandi Teague, who dealt with injuries a lot last year, could make her mark down in the post, spelling Leer and Quinn, while freshman Alex Louin looks to provide a spark on offense as a guard. She is a rare breed that could potentially see significant time at point guard as a freshman.
Rounding out the team are new walk-ons Karlie Crispin and Kate Brunori. Crispin worked in the men's basketball office last year as a freshman and the Wildcats offered her a spot this year, while Brunori is a senior who has spent time on the club basketball team, a la Jess Wamala.
If anything is true about this team, it's that they're working as one cohesive unit. I won't predict a Final Four or anything, but it's not a stretch to say this team is going places.