1. Temple Owls
Record last season: 20-11 (12-4 A-10)*
Head Coach: Dawn Staley (3rd season)
Plays GW: Jan. 12 at Temple
Head coach Dawn Staley has turned Temple into a nationally ranked team and will continue that determination in this her third year as the Owls look to defend their A-10 Championship title. Last year’s Temple squad was the first to make the tournament in more than 10 years, but the Owls were hit hard by graduation, losing seven players including lead scorer and First Team All-Conference forward Athena Christoforakis.
But Staley, who just received a five-year contract extension, still has hopes of making it to the Final Four. Senior Stacey Smalls, voted the Most Outstanding Player of the 2002 A-10 Championships, returns to lead a tall team with five players listed over 6 feet. The First Team All-Conference player will be expected to fill the void left by the graduates.
2. Saint Joseph’s Hawks
Record last season: 24-8 (12-4 A-10)
Head Coach: Cindy Griffin (2nd season)
Plays GW: Jan. 23 at St. Joseph’s
While they return nine letter winners, the 2002 A-10 Eastern Division champions will struggle to replace 2002 Player of the Year Susan Moran, a four year scoring and rebounding leader who now plays for the New York Liberty in the WNBA. Junior Stephanie Graff, last year’s second leading scorer (10.1 ppg) and second leading rebounder (7.1 pg), is expected to fill Moran’s role on the offense.
The Hawks will be contenders in the A-10, but with a brutal pre-conference schedule, including Virginia, Connecticut and Penn State and five rookies adjusting to college play, don’t except the wins to come soon.
3. Massachusetts Minutewomen
Record last season: 12-18 (8-8 A-10)
Head Coach: Marnie Dacko (1st season)
Plays GW: Feb. 13 at GW
Massachusetts’ biggest asset this year will be senior Jennifer Butler, a First Team All-Conference center who averaged 13.2 points per game and led the team in rebounds with 9.6 per game. Starting since her freshman year, she has played in all but two games, was the first Minutewoman to record a triple-double since 1991 and finished 30th in the nation in scoring last season.
To compliment Butler, junior Ebony Pegues returns from an ACL injury, which kept her on the bench for most of last season. A starter until the injury, she came back at the end of the season to record 92 points, shooting 40.5 percent from the field.
Leading the Minutewomen is first-year head coach Marnie Dacko, previously the winningest coach at Cornell University.
4. Saint Bonaventure Bonnies
Record last season: 13-15 (7-9 A-10)
Head Coach: Jim Crowley (3rd season)
Plays GW: Jan. 9 at GW
Senior guard Courtney Mattingly, an All-Conference Second Team pick, will lead the Bonnies to what they hope will be an improved season after last year’s sub-.500 performance.
Easier said than done, however, considering 2002 Rookie of the Year Stephanie Collins, the leading freshman scorer with 11.1 points per game, will be out this year after she tore her ACL in preseason practice.
5. Rhode Island Rams
Record last season: 15-13 (8-8 A-10)
Head Coach: Boe Pearman (4th season)
Plays GW: Feb. 2 at GW
The Rams are rebuilding, choosing to focus on gaining experience for improvement down the road rather than dominating this season. Junior Denise King will lead a strong recruiting class of six freshmen.
The Rams are taking on a tougher schedule than last season, including games against mid-Atlantic champions Kent State and an appearance at the nationally acclaimed Maryland tournament to advance their program.
6. Fordham Rams
Record last season: 6-23 (3-13 A-10)
Head Coach: Jim Lewis (3rd season)
Plays GW: Jan. 15 at Fordham
Coach Lewis’ 30 years of coaching experience will be Fordham’s best hope of improving from last year’s dismal season. Tough competition from a trip to Hawaii to meet NCAA champion UConn and other top-notch teams will give the Rams much-needed experience.
*A-10 Tournament Champions
1. George Washington Colonials**
Record last year: 21-9, 15-1 in A-10
Head Coach: Joe McKeown (14th season)
2. Richmond Spiders
Record last year: 14-16 (8-8 A-10)
Head Coach: Joanne Boyle (1st year)
Plays GW: Jan. 7 at GW
The Spiders finished second in the West in their first year in the A-10 last season and should improve this year, returning three starters and five other letter winners. Senior Ebony Tanner, a 6-foot-2 center who had 40 blocks last season, should improve on her 8.4 rebounds and 12.1 points per game.
Five talented newcomers will add depth to the Spiders’ roster but will be tested early, as Richmond takes on 2001-02 regular season champion GW in its first conference game.
3. Dayton Flyers
Record last year: 11-17 (8-8 A-10)
Head Coach: Jaci Clark (5th season)
Plays GW: Feb. 7 at Dayton
Dayton’s 2002 lead scorer, senior Sarah Allen, and the Flyers’ most Outstanding Player, Chrissy Donovan, lead a strong team that returns nine letter winners and all five starters.
The Flyers had their highest conference finish ever last season (sixth place) and should improve this year with the addition of 2001-02 injured red-shirts injured Stephanie Miller and Cyndi Stull, who led the team in scoring two seasons ago.
4. Duquesne Dukes
Record last year: 14-15 (8-8 A-10)
Head Coach: Dan Durkin (10th season)
Plays GW: Feb. 15 at GW
The Dukes return all five starters from the young and inexperienced group that improved their 8-20 2000 record to 14-15 last season.
Senior Beth Friday, a First Team All Conference pick in 2001-02, will highlight the offense as sophomore Candace Futrell should develop into a formidable scoring threat. Khalihah Este-Shehu, last year’s lead scorer and A-10 Most Improved Player, also returns after recovering from a knee injury during the off-season.
5. Xavier Musketeers
Record last year: 12-19 (5-11 A-10)
Head Coach: Kevin McGuff (1st year)
Plays GW: Jan. 19 at GW
GW remembers this team well after the Musketeers upset the Colonials in the second round of last year’s A-10 Tournament, but Xavier’s days in the Elite Eight are long gone. After the team finished fifth in the West last season, first year head coach Kevin McGuff looks to turn Xavier back into a winning program.
Returning this year are seniors Amy Waugh and Reetta Piipari, a duo that was named to the All-Conference Second Team last season. Waugh, a former A-10 Rookie of the Year and now a preseason All-American honorable mention, was named one of the five best point guards in the country by ESPN.com. Five new players join Xavier’s squad this year, including the highly touted Tara Boothe, but they may be too young to make an impact this year.
6. La Salle Explorers
Record last year: 6-22 (2-14 A-10)
Head Coach: John Miller (17th year)
Plays GW: Jan. 30 at GW
The Explorers return eight players and three starters in their attempt to improve on last year’s dismal season, in which they won only two games in the A-10.
Seniors Chrissy Walker and Bonnie Randa and junior Kathleen Foley are expected to lead the Musketeers. Walker was the team leader in assists last year and set the A-10 record for most assists in a game with 18. Foley became the team’s leading scorer at the end of the season, averaging nearly 18 points per game in the team’s last ten games. But even if the Explorers won five times as many games as they did last year, which isn’t likely, they would still not match the Colonials 2002 conference win total.
**2002 A-10 regular season champions