Pitt women picked to finish 13th
Pitt women's basketball coach Agnus Berenato hopes to make No. 13 lucky.
Her Panthers were chosen to finish 13th out of 16 teams in the Big East Conference preseason coaches' poll, which was announced Thursday at the conference's media day in New York.
"If that is what the coaches think, that is what they think," said Berenato, whose team finished 13-15 last season. "We have to win to get the respect of the other teams.
"Look at the teams ahead of us. They had 20-win seasons. We can't complain; we just have to work hard to earn a higher spot."
For the first time in 13 years, Connecticut was not chosen to win the conference. Rutgers, the Big East regular-season champion, was awarded the top spot with 11 first-place votes, followed by Connecticut, Notre Dame, DePaul, Villanova and Louisville. West Virginia was seventh, ahead of St. John's, South Florida, Marquette, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Pitt, Syracuse, Cincinnati and Providence.
West Virginia coach Mike Carey said he expected to be seventh or eighth.
"I think people have seen we have been a consistent team," said Carey, whose squad was 21-13 last season and lost to Southwest Missouri State in the WNIT title game. "I feel good about this team. They have been working really hard and are ready to go."
Carey added that he was pleased West Virginia junior guard Meg Bulger was named to the 10-member first team. Due to a tie in voting, two extra spots were added.
Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers was chosen preseason Player of the Year. Teammate Kia Vaughn was selected as Preseason Rookie of the Year.
Bulger, an Oakland Catholic graduate, led the conference in scoring last season with 18.6 points per game.
"Meg deserves to be on the first team, because of all she has done for this program," Carey said. "She is a special player."
Bulger said she was honored to be chosen for a second consecutive year, but she's more concerned about her team getting the recognition. She said she expects a big season for West Virginia.
Bulger wasn't the only first-teamer with local ties. Pitt sophomore Marcedes Walker also was chosen.
Walker said being selected means a lot to her and that she has been working hard, hoping to live up to her first-team status. And she doesn't mind the Panthers preseason ranking.
"It doesn't bother us to be picked 13th," said Walker, who averaged 13.3 points and a conference-best 9.1 rebounds per game last season. "We plan to come out and shock a lot of teams in the Big East. We will use this as motivation."
Big East preseason coaches pollTeam with Pts.
1. Rutgers (11) 221
2. Connecticut (5) 215
3. Notre Dame 191
4. DePaul 183
5. Villanova 167
6. Louisville 155
7. West Virginia 128
8. St. John's 118
9. South Florida 113
10. Marquette 98
11. Georgetown 78
12. Seton Hall 73
13. Pitt 60
14. Syracuse 57
15. Cincinnati 48
16. Providence 15
Note : First-place votes in parentheses.