DePaul looks to have another great season following last year’s top-25 finish. The Blue Demons are led by a strong senior duo of guard Kelly Campbell and forward Chante Stonewall. Campbell was one of the best guards in the country last season, earning All-Big East First Team honors while finishing fifth nationally in assist-turnover ratio. Stonewall is a strong two-way player—leading DePaul in both field goal percentage and blocked shots—and secured Second Team Big East honors last season. If the Campbell-Stonewall duo continues its success, look for the Blue Demons to sit atop the Big East this season.
- Seton Hall
Despite Seton Hall’s disappointing eighth place finish in the Big East last season, they are poised to make a push in the conference this year. Returning is senior forward Shadeen Samuels, who last year led the conference in scoring, averaging 20.3 points per game on 54.5 percent shooting, and earned both All-Big East First Team honors and the Big East Most Improved Player award. Seton Hall also returns junior forward Desiree Elmore, who amassed 10.3 points per game last year, leading all Big East substitutes, and shot 54.5 percent from the field, good for top-five in the conference. Don’t be surprised if the Pirates compete for a top spot in the conference and an NCAA tournament berth this season.
- St. John’s
The Red Storm return many of their key players as they look to improve upon last season’s second-to-last place finish. Now a redshirt junior, 2019 Big East assists leader Tiana England will still be able to dish to the team’s leading scorer, junior guard Qadashah Hoppie. Given the number of valuable returners, including sophomore guard Kadaja Bailey, a member of the Big East All-Freshman Team last season, this mature St. John’s team could make some noise in the conference if any of their key pieces manage to put together a breakout season.
Creighton was the only team in the Big East to defeat both Marquette and DePaul last season, mostly due to the efforts of leading scorer and All-Big East First Team forward Audrey Faber. Faber was their only player to earn a Big East regular season award selection, and she graduated after the season. Even so, the return of the team’s next four highest-scoring players suggests they could again be in the mix as a contender. Senior guard Jaylyn Agnew, a career double-digit scorer who posted a career-high 27 points in their loss to DePaul in the Big East Tournament semifinal, will fly point for this Bluejays squad. Look for an even stronger season from Creighton this time around.
Villanova graduated three key seniors, but their biggest loss this season is guard Kelly Jekot, one of the Wildcats’s best offensive options last season, due to injury. ’Nova will call on senior forward Mary Gedaka, who led the team with 14.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game and a 2018-2019 All-Big East Second Team selection, to carry an even bigger load. Gedaka will be accompanied by a host of young talent, including freshman guard Brooke Mullin, who earned 2019 Second Team All-State honors. While Villanova will miss Jekot in the lineup, they are more than equipped to lead another competitive season.
Although Butler finished third in the conference last season, 2019 Big East Coach of the Year Kurt Godlevske could find difficulty repeating last season’s success. The Bulldogs graduated their leading scorer in Whitney Jennings, as well as 2019 Big East Defensive Player of the Year Michelle Weaver and All-Big East Second Team forward Tori Schickel. Between those three, Butler loses half of last year’s scoring. The well-coached group is not in despair, however, as they look to senior guard Kristen Spolyar, who landed on the All-Big East Preseason Team. Anticipate a middling season from the Bulldogs this coming year.
The Friars have their work cut out for them this season as they graduated three seniors, including 3-point threat Jovana Nogic, who last year led them to their first postseason appearance since 2010. Providence only returns one senior, forward Ny-Asia Franklin, meaning they will rely heavily on forward Mary Baskerville, the 2019 Big East Freshman of the Year, and sophomore guard Kaela Webb, who also earned a Big East All-Freshman Team selection in 2019. Without a veteran presence, it is unlikely the Friars will return to the postseason unless Baskerville, Webb, and other young players outplay their expectations.
Prospects are low for the Musketeers this season as Xavier will enter a rebuilding phase after six-year Head Coach Brian Neal stepped down last season. Neal was replaced by Michigan Assistant Melanie Moore, who will be making her head coaching debut. Moore does not have the luxury of a strong senior class to ease her transition, as Xavier only returns one senior who saw extensive playing time last season, guard Na’Teshia Owens. However, the Musketeers do return their team leader in assists, junior guard Aaliyah Dunham. Regardless, Xavier has a young roster and a young coach who will likely experience growing pains in the upcoming season.
The Hoyas enter the season losing almost three quarters of their scoring from last year after the graduation of starters Dionna White, Dorothy Adomako, and Mikayla Venson. Head Coach James Howard will have to pull a magic trick to replace that offensive power. Losing four of their five starters will undoubtedly hamstring this Georgetown squad. Sophomore guard Nikola Kovacikova and graduate guard Brianna Jones will be asked to shoulder more than their fair share of the offense. It will likely be a struggle for the Hoyas to follow up on last year’s fifth-place conference finish.
The departure of Allazia Blockton, the 2018 Big East Player of the Year and Marquette’s all-time leading scorer, as well as Natisha Hiedeman, who won last year’s Big East Player of the Year, will be the most significant roster losses any Big East team will have to overcome. Role players Danielle King and Erika Davenport also departed. In fact, the Golden Eagles enter the season without their top-five scorers from last year. And since 2018 Big East Co-Coach of the Year Carolyn Kieger has been replaced by new Head Coach Megan Duffy, this team could struggle to find their footing.
Image Credits: John Picker/The Georgetown Voice