Emmanuel Captures Top Spot in Consecutive Women's Basketball Pre-Season Poll
The Emmanuel College Saints led the 2011-2012 pre-season poll for women’s basketball based on a vote from all GNAC coaches. The Saints captured the GNAC title for the past five consecutive seasons, and thirteen out of fifteen since the history of the GNAC.
- Emmanuel (142)
- Suffolk (128)
- St. Joseph's ME (116)
- St. Joseph CT (114)
- Emerson (98)
- Norwich (86)
- JWU (67)
- Rivier (66)
Emmanuel is coming off a 21-8 campaign last year, which culminated in the Saints' 16th NCAA Tournament appearance. After powering through Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) play with an undefeated regular season (12-0), the Saints won their 13th GNAC title, including their fifth in consecutive years. Head Coach Andy Yosinoff, who is in his 35th year with the Saints, returns seven veterans and three starters from last year's championship squad.
Among the starters are the team's top-two scorers, senior guard Meghan Kirwan (Melrose, Mass.) and junior forward Fiona O'Dwyer (Stamford, Conn.), who combined for 28 points last year. Kirwan, a 1st Team All-GNAC pick, shot 50.2% from the floor, averaging 14.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. O'Dwyer represented the Saints on the All-GNAC 3rd Team, as she averaged 13.4 points and a team-high 7.4 boards per game, while also shooting near 50% from the field.
Starting center Victoria Johnson (Syracuse, N.Y.) is back for her sophomore season. Johnson netted 5.2 points and hauled in 3.5 rebounds as a rookie. Kirwan will co-captain the 2011-12 squad, along with senior guard Breanna Ockimey (Philadelphia, Pa.). Ockimey was among the team's top five leading scorers last season and is expected to provide solid senior leadership for Yosinoff's young squad this year.
Among the other veterans are returning junior guards Chenae Earle (South Orange, N.J.) and Laura Benvenuto (Wyckoff, N.J.). Both averaged double figures in minutes last season and will be expected to step up for the 2011-12 campaign. Forward Liz Daley (Sharon, Mass.), who played in all 29 games and shot 46% from the floor last season is also back for her sophomore year. Additionally, Coach Yosinoff brought in a monster recruiting class of nine newcomers, which includes seven freshman and two transfers.
The Rams concluded the 2010-2011 season as GNAC tournament Runner-Up, making their way to the Sem-Finals by achieving a 10-2 conference regular-season record. Returning for the Rams is senior forward, Mary Garon who will lead Suffolk on and off the court as the sole Captain of the squad. Fellow senior, Meghan Black, is coming off a very strong season after averaging 10.3 points per game and collecting 4.9 rebounds per game and garnering Black GNAC All-Tournament honors.
Junior guard Jacqueline Vienneau, produced large numbers last year, placing 2nd on the Rams in scoring (11.2 ppg), lead with 94 assists, and recorded over 20 points in three contests.
Sophomore forward, Jennifer Ruys, returns to the Rams after being one of the top scorers in the GNAC, and led Suffolk in 13.7 points per game. After achieving an third team all-conference and all-tournament selection Ruys will be looking to continue that lead the Rams in the 2011-2012 campaign.
3. St. Joseph’s of Maine
The Monks return four starters and the top six scorers from a 2010-11 squad that went 18-9 overall and 9-3 in GNAC play under the guidance of Head Coach Mike McDevitt (356-138, .721), who is entering his 19th season as the SJC skipper and 20th as a collegiate clipboard carrier.
Top returners for the Monks include seniors Ashley Geel (St. George, Maine), a 6-1 center, Megan McDevitt (Cumberland, Maine), a 5-10 shooting guard, and Allie Parent (Camden, Maine), a 5-9 swing player. McDevitt, a second-year team captain, enjoyed her finest season last year when she posted near-record marks in three-pointers made (61) and three-point field goal percentage (42.4%) and tallied 9.8 PPG. With another solid year, McDevitt will likely threaten the Monks' career three-pointers made and three-point field goal percentage records.
Junior guard Danyelle Shufelt (Sutton, Vt.) and sophomores Mackenzie Dufour (Augusta, Maine), Abby Young (North Yarmouth, Maine) and Lindsay Moore (Somersworth, N.H.) also figure to play big roles this year. Dufour proved to be one of the best point guards in the conference during her rookie season when she ranked four in the GNAC in assists (4.1 APG), sixth in assist/turnover ratio (1.2) and 13th in steals (2.0 SPG). The 2011 MWBCA All-Rookie Team honoree started all 27 games and led the team in playing time (31.2 MPG) while netting 4.0 PPG.
4. St. Joseph Connecticut
The Blue Jays were 19-7 last season, setting single-season school records for wins and winning percentage. Saint Joseph was also the second most-improved team in the country after a 4-20 season in 2009-10. Only Greensboro, which improved from 8-16 to 28-3 added more wins than the Blue Jays. Kim Martin, entering her seventh season as head coach, was named GNAC Coach of the Year.
Saint Joseph has 16 plays on its roster, all first- and second-year players. Sophomore Devon Diliberto (Waterbury, Conn.) was Second Team All-GNAC and the GNAC Rookie of the Year after an outstanding debut season. She led the team with 15.6 points a game, shooting 45 percent from the floor, 38 percent on three-pointers and 77 percent at the line. Her 60 three-point field goals were a single-season school record.
Sophomores Mary Hyde (Derby, Conn.) and Shauna Sullivan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) each started 23 games last year, most of any returning players. Hyde averaged 9.5 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds a game. Sullivan averaged 4.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and shot 45 percent. Chelsea Alves (Ellington, Conn.) averaged 5.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in 18 minutes a game and Courtney Cesca (Winsted, Conn.) averaged 3.6 points and 3.5 rebounds in 11 minutes.