Courtesy: America East Communications

Albany Unanimously Selected as Women’s Basketball Preseason Favorite

Release: 10/16/2013

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The two-time reigning America East women’s basketball champion Albany Great Danes are the unanimous favorites in 2013-14 as the conference office revealed the preseason coaches’ poll on Wednesday. The preseason coaches’ poll is voted on by the league’s nine head coaches who are not permitted to vote for their own teams.

The Great Danes received the maximum eight first-place votes and 64 points to come in at the top of the poll. Hartford was next with 54 points, followed by Stony Brook in third with 48. New Hampshire received one first place vote and earned the fourth slot with 46 points. In fifth-place is Vermont with 30 points, followed by Maine in sixth, UMBC in seventh and Binghamton eighth. New conference member UMass Lowell was selected ninth in its inaugural Division I season.

Albany (27-4) became just the fourth team in America East history, and the first since Maine in 1996 to go unbeaten in the conference regular-season and go on to win the America East Championship title.  The Great Danes return seven players from last year’s title-winning team, including tournament Most Outstanding Player Megan Craig and 2013 Co-Rookie of the Year Shereesha Richards. Albany has won 23-straight conference regular-season games entering the season and back-to-back America East titles. Albany starts the year against local rival Siena on Nov. 8.

Hartford (21-12) notched its seventh 20-win season in 2012-13 and made its eighth-trip to the America East title game. Hartford returns 11 letterwinners and adds four newcomers to the mix. Experience could be key for the Hawks with seven juniors and seniors, including all-conference second team selection and preseason all-conference honoree Amber Bepko. Hartford finished third in the America East regular-season standings last season, marking the fourth-straight year the Hawks have finished fourth or higher. The Hawks open against UConn on Nov. 9.

Stony Brook (14-16) had a 10-win turnaround last year, the best in the America East since Vermont also had a 10-win turnaround in 2006-07 and earned the No. 3 selection in the coaches’ poll. The victories also led the Seawolves to secure the No. 4 seed in the 2012-13 America East Championship, the highest seed for the program since 2008-09. Head coach Beth O’Boyle enters her third season at the helm of the Seawolves and returns eight letterwinners and two starters from last year’s squad. The third-place selection is the highest for Stony Brook since being picked second in 2006-07. The Seawolves start the year at home against NJIT on Nov. 8.

New Hampshire (12-18) received one first-place vote while earning the fourth spot in the coaches’ poll. The Wildcats advanced to their first America East Championship semifinal since 2005, as then-junior Kelsey Hogan hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to down Stony Brook in the quarterfinals. Hogan is the team’s leading returning scorer at 9.8 points per game and was a preseason all-conference selection. Head coach Maureen Magarity enters her fourth year in Durham and brings back eight letterwinners while welcoming three newcomers. The Wildcats start the year at home against Worcester State on Nov. 9.

Vermont (10-21) advanced to its 18th America East semifinal last year but its first since 2010 and starts the season picked fifth in the preseason poll. The Catamounts return 10 letterwinners including three starters. Vermont was the top offensive rebounding team in the conference a year ago, averaging 14.6 per game and is bringing back Niki Taylor, who averaged 2.8 offensive boards per game. The Catamounts open the year at Bryant on Nov. 9.

Maine (4-24) is picked sixth in the preseason poll and will be led by the 2013 Co-Rookie of the Year Liz Wood, who led freshmen in scoring (10.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.6 rpg). The Black Bears, who had one of the youngest teams in the country last year, will play the majority of their home games at the new Cross Insurance Center and open the building on Nov. 14 against North Dakota State.

Head coach Phil Stern enters his 12th season with UMBC (10-20) and will have a very young team with just one senior to team up with two juniors, three sophomores and seven freshmen. Stern is one of only three active America East head coaches with a conference title, and led UMBC to its second-highest seed in the America East tournament last year as the No. 3 seed. The Retrievers take on Eastern on Nov. 11.

Binghamton (6-24) has reached the America East semifinals three times in the last five years and is picked seventh in the preseason poll. Ten letterwinners return to Vestal, including 2012-13 All-Rookie selection Morgan Murphy. The Bearcats tip-off  the year at home against Buffalo on Nov. 8.

UMass Lowell (18-9 Division II) enters its inaugural Division I season with a new-look team that includes 11 newcomers (nine freshmen, two transfers) to go with five returners. The 18-9 mark was the best record in 10 years for the River Hawks, who open the season at home against Providence on Nov. 9.

2013-14 America East Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll
1. Albany (8)                       64
2. Hartford                          54
3. Stony Brook                   48
4. New Hampshire (1)    46
5. Vermont                         30
6. Maine                              27
7. UMBC                              24
8. Binghamton                   23
9. UMass Lowell               8