Updated: Nov. 2, 2015 at 10:38 a.m.
Behind a prolific season from the conference champion Colonials, the Atlantic 10 sent five teams to the postseason last spring. George Washington and Dayton both earned NCAA Tournament bids, with the Flyers reaching the Elite Eight, while Duquesne, Fordham and Richmond all made appearances in the 2015 WNIT. With most programs returning the majority of their talent in 2015‒2016, it may be a little tougher of a run to a repeat GW title, but don’t expect too many surprises.
After a 29-win season and a trip to the NCAA tournament, the Colonials are far and away the favorite to repeat as Atlantic 10 champions. Returning 14 of 15 members, including superstar Jonquel Jones and junior forward Caira Washington, GW has already been tapped as the No. 21 team in the nation in the first USA Today Coaches Poll.
The Flyers received 177 points and two first-place votes in the A-10 Preseason Poll. Dayton went 28‒7 overall and 14‒2 in the Atlantic 10 in 2015, and is coming off a thrilling run to the Elite Eight in which it defeated 10th-seeded Iowa State, second-seeded Kentucky and third-seeded Louisville before falling to eventual National Champion, UConn.
Veteran forward Samantha Clark (Preseason All-Conference Third Team) will guide the Rams in her final season. The Neptune, N.J. native is coming off a year where she averaged 8.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game as Fordham finished fourth in the A-10 standings last season and made a semifinal appearance in A-10 Championship.
The Dukes bring on seven freshmen to their 2015‒2016 roster. April Robinson, who averaged 13.7 points, 4.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game last season, will lead the young squad. She was named as a Preseason All-Conference Second Team pick.
5. Saint Louis
The Billikens’ 15 wins last season were the most since its 2002‒2003 campaign. They return junior center Sadie Stipanovich who led the Billikens in scoring (15.0 ppg), rebounding (7.0 rpg), field goal percentage (0.517) and blocks (35) and senior guard Jamesia Price, who last year became the first Billiken to be named to the A-10 All-Defensive team.
Junior guard Janelle Hubbard (Preseason All-Conference Second Team) led the Spiders with 13.9 points per game last season and collected 2.4 rebounds to go with 1.5 assists per game. The team posted a 19‒14 record a season ago to go with a 9‒7 mark in A-10 play and advanced to the second round of the WNIT.
7. St. Joseph’s
Senior guard Ciara Andrews (Preseason All-Conference Third Team) averaged a career-best 13.0 points per game last year. The Hawks return three starters and 11 letter-winners and finished 8‒8 in the A-10, 13‒17 overall in 2014‒2015.
8. Rhode Island
The team earned its highest pick in the A-10 preseason poll since 2004‒2005 this year. Last season, Rhode Island finished the regular season as the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament and advanced to the A-10 quarterfinals. Sophomore Charise Wilson (Preseason All-Conference Second Team) became just the third Rams’ player in program history to earn A-10 Rookie of the Year honors last season.
Adaeze Alaeze (Preseason All-Conference Third Team) led VCU in both rebounds (6.9 rpg) and assists (2.0) last season and was second on the team in scoring (10.9 ppg). She also recorded three double-doubles and is one of nine Rams returning from last season’s 16‒14 squad, which includes all five starters.
10. St. Bonaventure
Senior forward Katie Healy, a two-time postseason all-conference honoree, averaged a team-high 14.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season. She will lead a Bonnies team that returns five players who started 20 or more games last year and went 15‒15 overall.
11. George Mason
Taylor Brown (Preseason All-Conference Third Team) set the all-time single season scoring record with 643 points last season and surpassed the 1,000-career point mark in just 50 games, becoming the fastest player in Mason women’s basketball history to do so. The Patriots return seven letter-winners from a 13‒17 2014‒2015 campaign.
Sharon Dawley begins her sixth season at the helm for the Minutewomen this year. The Minutewomen showed improvement in 2014‒2015, highlighted by A-10 All-Conference Second Team selection and A-10 Most Improved Player Kim Pierre-Louis’ standout senior season. The team advanced to the second round of the A-10 Championship for the first time since 2004‒2005 last season.
13. La Salle
Junior Micahya Owens (Preseason All-Conference Third Team) and junior Jasmine Alston (Preseason All-Defensive Team) look to build upon strong seasons last year. Owens averaged 13.8 points per game last season, scoring in double figures in all but seven games and hitting the 20-point mark on five occasions. Alston averaged 2.3 steals per game to lead the A-10 with 72 steals last season. The Explorers finished at 15‒16 overall and 5‒11 in A-10 play in 2014‒2015.
The Wildcats return all five of their starters, including All-Rookie Team pick Mackenzie Latt. Last year saw Latt, who was twice named A-10 Rookie of the Week during the season, finish third in the league in rebounding (8.2 rpg), while averaging close to 12 points a contest. She also recorded 11 double-doubles, the fifth-most in a Wildcat single season since 1992‒1993. The team finished at 5‒25 overall and 1‒15 in A-10 play last year.