Women's college basketball preview: Area teams breakdown
Conference: Atlantic 10
Coach: Dan Burt
• Olivia Bresnahan, G, 5-11, Jr.
Burt, an assistant coach at Duquesne since 2007, takes over as head coach after Suzie McConnell-Serio left for Pitt. Under Burt, a first-time head coach, the Dukes will look similar to recent years, but expect him to put his own stamp on things.
After failing to make the NCAA Tournament last season, senior team leaders Orsi Szecsi and Wumi Agunbiade know this is their last chance. Agunbiade led the team in scoring and rebounding last year with 13.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Sophomore point guard April Robinson had a stellar freshman year and earned a spot on the league's all-rookie team. She averaged 8.3 points per game and led the team in assists with 78, and the loss of McConnell-Serio may impact her the most.
The Dukes' season opens Friday in Chicago against Big West champion Cal Poly, and their home opener is Nov. 17 against Green Bay.
Conference: Big Ten
Coach: Coquese Washington
• Kaliyah Mitchell, G/F, 6-2, Fr.
• Alex Harris, F, 6-3, Fr.
The Nittany Lions lost five seniors and added six freshmen, but returners include Big Ten All-Defensive Team member Dara Taylor, a redshirt senior who will replace Alex Bentley at point guard, as well as Big Ten Player of the Year Maggie Lucas. Lucas led the team with 20.6 points per game and finished in the top five in the conference in scoring, free-throw percentage (.896), 3-point percentage (.475) and 3-pointers made (96).
The big question this year is whether Penn State will finally be able to move past the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. They are back-to-back regular-season Big Ten champs and made it to the second round in 2011 and the Sweet 16 in 2012. The Nittany Lions were upset by LSU in the final minute of the second round last year.
Penn State opens Friday against St. Francis (Pa.).
Coach: Suzie McConnell-Serio
• Marvadene Anderson, C, 6-11, RS-Fr.
The Panthers move from the Big East to the ACC with new coach McConnell-Serio. Joining her are assistants Carmen Bruce and Lindsay Richards, who made the move with her from Duquesne, as well as another member of the McConnell family. Sister Kathy McConnell-Miller, a former head coach at Colorado and Tulsa who most recently was an assistant with the Tulsa Shock of the WNBA, is the associate head coach.
Pitt returns all five starters and eight players who saw significant time last season. This year, Anderson will see playing time after redshirting last season. The 6-foot-11 center was featured in a 2010 documentary on The Learning Channel called “The World's Tallest Children.”
The Panthers open the season when they host Bucknell on Friday.
Conference: Northeast Conference
Coach: Sal Buscaglia
• Anna Niki Stamalamprou, G, 5-9, Fr.
• Judith Sole, C, 6-3, Fr.
• Cassie Oursler, C, 6-3, Fr.
• Jolie Olingende, C, 6-1, Sr.
The Colonials were picked first in the preseason NEC coaches' poll for the first time since 2008-09. They return four starters, including NEC Player of the Year Artemis Spanou and Rookie of the Year Ashley Ravelli.
Spanou has proven unstoppable on the boards in her three years at Robert Morris, leading the nation in rebounding last year at 15.6 rebounds per game. The senior and native of Greece also led the NEC in scoring at 19.1 points per game.
Ravelli, a native of Italy, was fourth in the league with 70 3-pointers last season. They also return sophomore guard Lou Mataly, who battled a knee injury last season.
The Colonials open their season Friday at home against Hofstra.
Conference: Big 12
Coach: Mike Carey
• Lubirida Gordon, C, 6-4, Fr.
• Teana Muldrow, F, 6-1, Fr.
The Mountaineers went 9-9 in their first season in the Big 12, losing to No. 15 Delaware in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
This year, they were picked to finish tied with Oklahoma State for third in the Big 12 preseason coaches poll. Four starters from last year's squad are back, plus senior center Asya Bussie, who missed last season with a torn left ACL.
Bussie was named to the preseason All-Big 12 team, and Christal Caldwell, who led the team in scoring (13.1 points per game) and steals (51) last season, earned preseason honorable mention.
West Virginia opens its season Friday at home against Ohio State before heading to Hawaii for three games in the Bank of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine Classic.