St. Joseph Hawks
Last season: 19-11, 13-3 A-10
The Hawks will start five seniors and shouldn’t have much trouble winning the East again with that experience. Irina Krasnoshiok, a 6-foot-5-inch center, should continue to put up big numbers in the middle. Last year she averaged a team-high 14.3 points per game. There is a good coaching presence in Cindy Griffin, last year’s Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year, as well as four new freshmen on the team. There wasn’t much bench production out of this team last year, something the team must improve on.
Fordham Lady Rams
Last season: 14-16, 5-11 A-10
The Lady Rams have lost their top scorer to graduation and will look to senior guard Beth Ann Dickinson, who averaged 10.7 points per game last year. Leading rebounder Kyshawn Ruff, a 6-foot-6-inch center, returns and should dominate in the middle. If Ruff can really make her presence felt in the paint, it could open things up for Dickinson, who was the team’s best three-point shooter last year. The pair could become an effective inside-out duo and make some noise in the conference.
Last season: 14-15, 9-7 A-10
After losing their two top scorers from last season, including senior star Stacey Smalls, the Owls return only one double-figure scorer from last season in sophomore forward/center Candice Dupree, who was also the team’s leading rebounder and shot blocker. They will look for a role player or newcomer to step up and relieve some of the pressure, and junior guard Ari Moore (9.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg last season) may be that player. If not, it could be one of the three incoming freshmen.
Rhode Island Rams
Last season: 16-15, 5-11 A-10
Rhode Island returns all five starters, including two double-digit scorers from last season. They are seniors Denise King and Shayla Johnson, who averaged 14.3 and 11.3 points per game last season, respectively. King and Johnson both play in the backcourt, though, and the lack of an inside presence should prevent the Rams from contending for the division title. Junior Katie Stalling and sophomore Tanya Rhodes will have to step up their scoring production in the frontcourt this year for the Rams to have any chance.
Last season: 14-14, 6-10 A-10
The Minutewomen must find a way to replace honorable mention All-American and A-10 Defensive Player of the Year Jennifer Butler, and that will be no easy task. Only one starter returns for this year, and that is Katie Nelson, a 5-foot-7-inch guard who averaged 8.4 points per game last year. Height may be a problem for the Minutewomen, as none of the returning players are above six feet tall. There is an abundance of new players, including both freshmen and transfers, but it could take some time for this team to adjust.
Last season: 6-22, 3-13 A-10
The Bonnies struggled last year with an assist-to-turnover ratio of about 6.5 to 10. That problem, along with the absence of an obvious single leader, will hurt this team. It needs a player to step up and become a 15- to 20-point scorer. Lyndsey Maurer, a junior guard, is the only returning Bonnie who averaged double figures last year. Unless some of the Bonnies’ incoming freshmen can make significant immediate impacts, they should find themselves at the bottom of the division again.
George Washington Colonials
Last season: 25-7, 15-1 A-10
Last season: 21-11, 9-7 A-10
The Spiders had a 20-win season last year and earned a WNIT berth. They are going to have to replace the graduated Ebony Taylor, their top scorer from last year. Fortunately for them, they still have junior forward Kate Flavin, one of only three players in the conference to average a double-double last year. Senior guard Amber Goppert, who led the team in assists last season, rebounds well for a perimeter player. With leaders on both ends of the floor, this team should be able to compete for at least another WNIT berth, if not more.
Last season: 20-10, 11-5 A-10
The Musketeers are coming off a strong season that was capped by an NCAA Tournament appearance. Last year’s A-10 Rookie of the Year, forward Tara Boothe, will lead the way this year. As a freshman, she was sixth in the league in scoring with 16 points per game and fifth in rebounding with 8.1 per game. Other than Boothe, Xavier may lack firepower. Amy Waugh and Reetta Piipari, who averaged 19 and 13 points last season, respectively, both graduated. One of five newcomers will have to step up if this team wants to stay near the top of the conference.
Last season: 20-10, 11-5 A-10
The Explorers return four starters, including three double-figure scorers, and should get better this season. Junior guard Jill Marano (13.2 ppg), sophomore guard Davineia Payne (11.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and senior forward Kathleen Foley (11.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg) will continue to put up good numbers. This balanced scoring attack could translate into more victories if the supporting cast can contribute and the team can avoid last year’s inconsistency.
Last season: 14-14, 7-9 A-10
The Flyers are led by the one-two punch of senior guard Stefanie Miller (11.3 ppg) and senior forward Cyndi Stull (11.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg). Miller was third in the league last year from beyond the arc at 41.9 percent. The rest of the cast contributed on a minor level last year, and certain players will have increased roles. There are five newcomers, and at least a couple should make their way into the rotation. Dayton’s scoring defense was the worst in the league last year, allowing 68 points per game.
Last season: 15-14, 7-9 A-10
Leading the Dukes is senior guard Candice Futrell, the A-10’s top scorer from last year at 19.5 points per game. Alongside her is senior guard Shiri Sharon, who led the A-10 in assists last year while pulling in 6.6 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Aiga Bautre, the league’s top three-point shooter, may be a double-figures scorer off the bench. This team’s problems lie in the frontcourt, which is mediocre at best – none of the returning players averaged more than 4.4 points per game last year. The Dukes also lost star forward Beth Friday to graduation.