We did an "updated" look at predictions for men's standings for the upcoming season, and, now, it's time for the women.
1. MARIST: Surprised? We didn't think so. But, there are proverbial chinks in the armor. Post players 6-5 Delaney Hollenbeck and 6-3 Tori Jarosz could both be lost for the season. Of course, that happened last year, too, and Marist finished 18-0 againt MAAC opponents. But, Elizabeth Beynnon capably took care of the post last season and, now, she's graduated. Still ... returning senior Emma O'Connor's 4.7 rebounds per game last season led all Marist players. But, she's only 6-foot-0 and, right now, is the tallest healthy player with any college experience. Otherwise? Guards Casey Dulin and Leanne Ockenden are among the best in the league, and Sydney Coffey and Maddy Blais, both sophomores, are emerging talents.
Chief Concern: The post. Kat Fogarty, a 6-2 freshman, will almost assuredly get big minutes, a Marist rarity for a freshman, and she'll need to contribute.
2. IONA: Not only does every starter return from a team that won 20 games last season and went to the WNIT, but the Gaels return its top seven scorers from a year ago. Those include returning Player of the Year junior guard Damika Martinez and last season's Rookie of the Year sophomore forward Joy Adams. This might (finally!) be the year a team seriously threatens Marist.
Chief Concern: A new coach in Billi Godsey, who has never previously run a program.
3. QUINNIPIAC: The "Marist of the Northeast Conference" a year ago when the Bobcats went 18-0 in that league and 30-3 overall. Its best player, Felicia Baron, an all-purpose guard, did graduate. But, point guard Gillian Abshire (10th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio) and forward Brittany McQuain (8.3 rebounds per game) are both all-MAAC caliber players. In all, four of last season's five starters return.
Chief Concern: Does Quinnipiac's excellence translate to a new and slightly better league?
4. FAIRFIELD: A perennially strong program under head coach Joe Frager, and expect the same again this year, particularly as forward Brittany Obi-Tabot continues to emerge as one of the league's top players. Four of last season's top five scorers are also back, and no departing player averaged more than 8.1 points per contest.
Chief Concern: Find a little more offense, particularly from the point guard position as teams basically left Stags' point guards unguarded last year in order to pack the paint.
5. RIDER: A 15-15 finish last season was the program's best in many years. Swingperson MyNesha McKenzie returns, and she is a strong candidate to be this season's Player of the Year. Shereen Lightbourne could also be a major contributor if she is finally healthy after missing the last two seasons with knee injuries. And, Lashay Banks, a 5-10 guard who transferred in from Cincinnati, should also help.
Chief Concern: Post play. The program lost some good ones and probably needs 6-3 Marritt Gilcrease, previously a lightly used reserve, to step up.
6. MANHATTAN: League coaches, in their preseason poll, picked the Jaspers for 10th. Your Hoopscribe thinks Manhattan has the best chance among conference teams to make a positive surprise this season. Four very solid players return, led by sharpshooter Monica Roeder and underrated point guard Allison Skrec. And incoming 6-1 freshman guard Maeve Parahus is the choice here to be the MAAC's Rookie of the Year.
Chief Concern: The team will need contributions from some freshmen. Parahus and two incoming front-court players will need to make quick transitions to college play.
7. CANISIUS: Two of its top three players from a year ago graduated, including its only double-figure scorer (Ashley Durham). But, post player Jamie Ruttle has often looked capable of more, the return of aggressive forward Courtney VandenBovenkamp (out all last season with an injury) will help, and sophomore Tiahana Mills had a strong freshman season and looks capable of more this year.
Chief Concern: Much of the nucleus has been together for several years without any major success.
8. MONMOUTH: Some key graduation losses, but several returnees look capable of emerging, including UMass transfer Sara English, a 6-4 forward who averaged 1.45 blocks per game in just 13.8 minutes of playing time.
Chief Concern: Lack of height a year ago could be solved by English and incoming freshmen, but youngsters will be counted on for heavy minutes.
9 SIENA: The good news is that second-year coach Ali Jaques has a good incoming freshman class, but the bad news is that the group will need to make big contributions for the team to move up in the standings. Junior guard Tehresa Coles is an all-league caliber player, but more than a few former role players will have to make major strides.
Chief Concern: Another program with an unexpected loss (forward Kate Zarotney, a premature end to her playing days due to shoulder issues) leaves a thin frontcourt.
10. NIAGARA: The Purple Eagles were a little thin up front a year ago and, then, had all-league caliber center Lauren Gatto leave the program early due to a personal situation. Point guard Kayla Stroman and forward Shy Britton also left a year early, robbing the program of three of last year's top four players. There is rebuilding ahead, but the proverbial barrel isn't entirely empty. Incoming freshman Victoria Rampado might be an impact player, according to one knowledgeable Niagara source.
Chief Concern: Unexpected off-season personnel losses, forcing former role players and incoming freshmen into bigger roles.
11. SAINT PETER'S: Forward Kaydine Bent and guards Aziza May and Bridget Whitfield combine to be a nice threesome, but there isn't a lot else in place. Still, it should be enjoyable to see how quickly new coach Pat Coyle, who has WNBA coaching experience (and, MAAC experience as the former Loyola coach) can turn around the Peacocks.
Chief Concern: Finding enough talent (or, developing it) to be competitive for the coming season.
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