By Dalton Ray
Cincinnati still has most of what it had a season ago. Seven players started double-digit
games for the Bearcats and six of them return. One of the returnees is Dayeesha Hollins,
who took nearly twice as many shots as any teammate and averaged twice as many points as
any other player. On the positive side, Cincinnati went 9-6 at home a season ago, the best
home record under Head Coach Jamelle Elliott.
Kayla Cook also returns and she was the only player to start all 30 games last season.
She also posted a 1.6 assist-to-turnover ratio while finishing first on the team in free-
throw percentage (78.4 percent). Bianca Quisenberry was the number 35 best guard in the
country coming out of high school as four star recruit from Ohio and should expect to play
The Huskies outscored Big East opponents by nearly 30 points a game with 29.9 points
per game a season ago. The newly shaped American Athletic Conference is not as good a
league as the dismantled Big East. This is bad news for all teams in the conference, especially
new comers to the league. While Breanna Stewart, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Stefanie
Dolson and Bria Hartley are back, depth is the question mark for defending national
champions. Still, Brianna Banks, Morgan Tuck, Moriah Jefferson, Kiah Stokes and the
freshmen might finish no worse than second in the league on their own.
Dolson played and started in 38 of UConn’s 39 games and was third on the team with
13.6 points while leading the squad with 7.1 rebounds per game. A 2012-13 WBCA/State
Farm All-America Team selection, she also earned a spot on USBWA All-American Team
and the AP All-America Third Team. Breanna Stewart played in 36 of UConn’s 39 games
and ended up second on the team at 13.8 points per game and third on the squad with 6.4
rebounds per contest along with leading the team with 74 blocks.
Houston won’t match last season’s improvement in the win column. The Cougars saw
a 14 win swing last year going from 3-26 to 13-17 in their second season under Todd
Buchanan. Porsche Landry is no longer around, and she did a lot for this team a season ago
so someone new or the team itself will need to step up to replace her contributions. Post
players are not the league’s strong suit so senior Yasmeen Thompson could thrive after she
averaged 8.6 points. 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in her first season.
Senior Marrisa Ashton, who averaged 7.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game last season,
is also returning. Someone who should play a large key to the Cougars’ success will be senior
Teo’onna Campbell. She was one of three Cougars to start all 30 contests in her first season
at Houston. She ranked second on the team with 32.9 minutes per game. Averaging 7.8
points and she ranked second on the squad and eighth in C-USA with 8.2 rebounds per
This young team will benefit from the AAC’s lack of multiple powerhouses. Freshman
Tyler Scaife is the latest big-time recruit to end up in New Jersey. And with Erica Wheeler
and Monique Oliver no longer around, there should be shots for her to take. Hitting 3-
pointers would also help as the Scarlet Knights return a total of 14 3-pointers from last
Kahleah Copper was named to the Big East All-Freshman Team last season and looks to
pick up a lot more on the work load this season. Transfer Alexis Burke will be able to play
this season and this should give the Knights extra firepower to work with in replacing last
season’s departures. Syessence Davis returns as the team’s leading point guard as she led the
team in assist 13 times last season.
An impressive string of four consecutive postseason appearances under Tonya Cardoza
came to an end last season. To bounce back the backcourt will be relied on heavily. Raeska
Brown and Tyonna Williams are the team’s two leading returning scorers, while new
arrival Shi-Heria Shipp averaged nearly double digits at George Washington a season ago.
Natasha Thames will return as very experienced player and was second on the team with
eight rebounds per game. Safiya Martin and Taylor Robinson are both freshman that could
provide great size and length if they can step in and learn quickly. Erica Covile being healthy
should help the Owls.
The Tigers arrive in the Big East after a fourth consecutive trips to the postseason
under Melissa McFerrin. They lost Nicole Dickson, who led the team in scoring at better
than 18 points per game a season ago, but sophomore Ariel Hearn, the team’s assist leader
and second-leading scorer overall last season, is set to take over. The addition of redshirt
freshman Mooriah Rowser is also a boost.
Pa’Sonna Hope returns and appeared in all 32 games for Memphis, averaging 5.2 points
and 4.7 rebounds a game. Sophomore Asianna Fuqua-Bey had 19 starts in her freshman
campaign. She averaged 6.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game and ranked second on the
squad in rebounding and she will be Memphis’ leading returning rebounder.
Andrea Smith and Andrell Smith finished up their college careers last season and that
means the Bulls need to replace 43 percent of 2012-13’s points. Inga Orekhova, 12.7
points per game, is a good 3-point shooter who does a lot of other things in terms of
ball distribution and creating turnovers, but she isn’t quite the prototypical go-to scorer
yet. Trimaine McCullough arrives with huge expectations for a freshman and expects to
compete for playing time.
South Florida has the height that most teams in the conference can’t match up with. Ivana
Vuletic, Paige Cashin, Akila McDonald, and Katelyn Weber give the Bulls a large advantage
with size. Tamara Taylor looks to provide an extra spark as she was rated the number17
best junior college transfer this season. While the team has its share of upperclassmen they
will rely on freshman and sophomores to step in and play key roles.
Keena Mays is a proven scorer, who can get others involved and produces beyond her
height on the boards. The Kansas transfer and reigning Conference USA player of the year
averaged 18.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and shot 40 percent from the 3-point line. Three other
starters return. There isn’t much size and rebounding, which could be an issue, but Brittney
Hardy’s return from a redshirt season could be a big plus.
Senior Korina Baker will return in her second season as a starter and will look to
improve her already developed pass-first game, 110 assists last season. Along side her will be
sophomore Kamy Cole. As a freshman Cole played in 30 games with 22 starts as a freshman
and averaged 9.8 points per game and was second on the team with 57 3-point field goals
made. She had a team-high 51 steals and 41 assists and second among starters with a 77.4
free-throw percentage. Cole and Mays will most likely be the leaders of this team but will
need their upperclassmen heavy bench to pitch in.
The Knights lose leading scorer Gevenia Carter but add redshirt junior Brittni
Montgomery, who sat out last season after transferring from Virginia Tech. Montgomery
isn’t going to shoot as much as Carter did, but she could be a good post complement to
Briahanna Jackson’s backcourt scoring. A preseason all-conference selection in the AAC,
Jackson needs to become more efficient with 32 percent shooting, 123 turnovers, but she is
Senior center, Erica Jones entered UCF’s top five all-time rebounders last season and
give the Knights a very polished post presence. Along with Yanique Gordon and the shot-
swatting Stephanie Taylor UCF has an intimidating front court. The guards are young but
they will rely on the front court heavily and they will hope Sara Djassi will continue her 10.8
points and 8.5 rebounds per game theat she produced in the C-USA Tournament.