1. Xavier (26-5, 13-3 A-10) Head Coach: Melanie Balcomb (7th season)vs. GW: Jan.6 at Smith Center, Feb. 4 at Xavier Last Season vs. GW: 2-1
Last year’s A-10 tournament champs keep their starting five and return with A-10 Rookie of the Year Amy Waugh. Waugh led the A-10 with his .472 three-point field goal percentage. Rams have two first-team All Conference selections in Tara Tuukkanen and Nicole Levandusky.
2. GW (26-6, 14-2 A-10) Head Coach: Joe McKeown (12th season)
The Colonials reached the second round of NCAA Tournament and went undefeated at home (15-0). The Colonials lose key guard Elisa Aguilar to graduation but add presence inside with junior transfer Elena Vishniakova from the University of Georgia. Kristina Alexander and last year’s starters Erica Lawrence and Petra Dubovcova return to the talented but inexperienced team.
3. St. Joseph’s (25-6, 14-2 A-10) Head Coach: Stephanie V. Gaitley (10th season)vs. GW: Jan. 9 at Smith Center, Feb. 11 at St. Joseph’s Last Season vs. GW: 0-1
Senior guard Angela Zampella’s 10.7 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per game earned her an Associated Press All-American Honorable Mention. St. Joseph’s has one of the nation’s best defenses and last year it held opponents to 53.1 points per game.
4. Dayton (15-15, 9-7 A-10)Head Coach: Jaci Clark (3rd season)vs. GW: Feb. 2 at Dayton Last Season vs. GW: 0-2
Clark’s team gets better every year. Last year’s 15 overall wins were the most in team history. The Dayton Flyers, led by five freshmen, played their best game against Florida in the WNIT but lost 97-93.
5. Massachusetts (14-15, 10-6 A-10) Head Coach: Joanie O’Brien (9th season)vs. GW: Jan. 20 at UMass, Feb. 16 at Smith CenterLast Season vs. GW: 1-1
UMass loses three players and need a strong year from Jennifer Butler. As a freshman, Butler averaged 8.9 points per game and finished ninth in the conference with almost two steals per game. The team might start junior-transfer Siiri Liivandi (19 ppg and 14 rpg at River Community College).
6. La Salle (12-17, 6-10 A-10) Head Coach: John Miller (15th season)vs. GW: Jan. 15 at La Salle, Jan. 30 at Smith CenterLast Season vs. GW: 0-3
The Explorers will be tested early with non-conference games against Penn State University and Boston College. La Salle has all five returning starters including senior Jen Zenszer, who is on pace to break the 1000-point mark.
7. Temple (10-18, 5-11 A-10) Head Coach: Dawn Staley (1st season)vs. GW: Jan. 28 at Smith Center, Feb. 9 at TempleLast Season vs. GW: 0-1
There’s no telling what Staley’s WNBA experience can bring to the Lady Owls, which have four returning players. The top scorer is junior Lisa Jakubowicz (10.5 ppg). The Lady Owls will start highly touted sophomore Christine Cruz.
8. St. Bonaventure (10-19, 5-11 A-10) Head Coach: Jim Crowley (1st season)vs. GW: Feb. 22 at Smith CenterLast Season vs. GW: 0-1
Last year’s No. 3 seed in the A-10 Tournament relies heavily on getting to the free-throw line – St. Bonaventure led the conference with nearly 77 percent from the line. Trish Rankiewicz started in 26 games and was the team’s second leading scorer (10.6 ppg).
9. Fordham (4-24, 3-13 A-10) Head Coach Jim Lewis (1st season)vs. GW: Jan. 18 at FordhamLast Season vs. GW: 0-1
Lewis spent 14 seasons coaching George Mason. Leading scorer senior Maureen Garvey returns after sitting out last year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Also returning is senior forward Nailah Wallace, last year’s leading scorer (14 ppg).
10. Duquesne (8-20, 4-12 A-10) Head Coach Dan Durkin (8th season)vs. GW: Jan. 3 at Duquesne, Jan. 24 at Smith CenterLast Season vs. GW: 0-2
Three returning starters including Beth Friday, the nation’s eighth-leading rebounder (297 rebounds). The team looks to freshman Candace Futrell at guard to make an immediate impact.
11. Rhode Island (2-25, 2-14 A-10) Head Coach Belinda Boe Pearman (2nd season)vs. GW: Feb. 25 at Smith CenterLast Season vs. GW: 0-1
Senior Rhonda Pacheco, who led the A-10 in three-point percentage (.426) in 1997-98, and junior Shannon Boor (.410 three-point percentage) return, but Pearman’s team will have seven new players on this year’s squad.