Flagrant Stats – Statistical analysis for women's basketball

Analyzing the 2020 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame Using Win Shares

Voting for the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame has opened, with the voting expected to close in November. Voting is rarely discussed in depth by the voters, and any kind of statistical analysis specific to this Hall of Fame or professional wrestling in general is rarely, if ever, done.

You can look at the data I used for this here.

An award share is a statistical measure used to compare the careers of players. It’s often used as a rule of thumb to evaluate a player’s candidacy for his or her sport’s hall of fame.

It’s calculated by taking the number of points in a voting a candidate received and dividing it by the maximum number of points any one person could receive in the voting for an award – the number of points awarded for a first place vote, multiplied by the number of ballots cast. If a candidate were to receive all of the first place votes cast for an award, that person would receive a 1.0 for that year’s voting. Since awards of this nature are rarely given unanimously, the winner of an award often does not get a full 1.0 share.

In 2019, Giannis Antetokounmpo won the NBA MVP. He received 941 points. There were 101 ballots cast, with first place on a ballot being worth ten points. So, Giannis’ MVP share for the 2018-19 season would be 941/(101*10), or 0.932.

The Wrestling Observer Newsletter (WON) awards are voted upon by subscribers to the Newsletter, primarily written by Dave Meltzer. Wrestling is unique, compared with MLB and the NBA, due to the presence of multiple promotions and the lack of a single oversight body. As such, there’s very few avenues for “real” awards that cover the global wrestling scene.

Additionally, the presence of a professional wrestling hall of fame is complicated by the multitude of wrestling promotions and, often, their temporary existence. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame fills this gap. Rather than being voted on by fans, it’s voted on by historians, journalists, and current and former performers themselves. Voters are asked to restrict themselves to areas of the world that they are familiar with, so a lack of knowledge in (say) lucha libre will not negatively impact the candidacy of those primarily famous for their work in Mexico.

The WON awards include a number of different voting areas.  I’ve chosen to focus on three: the Wrestler of the Year award (also known as the Lou Thesz/Ric Flair award), the Most Outstanding Wrestler, and the Tag Team of the Year. The third award is clear in what it’s meant for. Tag teams are often not the central point of a promotion, although there have been historical exceptions, but they can on occasion be difference makers in the industry. The Thesz/Flair award is meant to award a wrestler for being the best in the combination of match quality and importance at the box office – it’s equivalent to a MVP award that considers all aspect of the industry. The Most Outstanding award focuses on match quality, which is an important aspect of the industry but it is not the only one.

Generally speaking, the WON Hall of Fame considers “length of time in the industry, historical significance, ability to attract viewers, and wrestling ability.” Eligibility requires 15 years in the business or an age of 35 or up with 10 years in the business. 60% of the votes cast from those voting for the wrestler’s geographic region is required for induction.

Wrestler of the Year

Of the top 25 wrestlers in award shares for Wrestler of the Year, 21 have been inducted in the Hall of Fame. Of the top 50, 39 have been inducted, with a further two of them not being pro-wrestlers (at one point, MMA fighters were folded into the wrestling balloting). This indicates to me that a de facto cut off for a strong correlation between a high finish in win shares and being inducted into the Hall of Fame is near fiftieth place all-time.

Of the wrestlers who are not in the Hall of Fame but they finished in the top 50 of award shares for this award:

  • Kazuchika Okada is fourth all-time in award shares at 3.92, but is only 33 at this point. All three above him in win shares are inducted, and 67 acts below him have been voted in. He will not be eligible for inclusion on the ballot until 2023. He has been the most important wrestler for New Japan Pro Wrestling for the better part of the past decade. It’s hard to imagine he won’t finish at least second in this category once his career is over.
  • Kenny Omega is 14th all-time in award shares at 1.58. 11 of the 12 acts above him in win shares have been inducted, with 59 inductees below him. He didn’t receive significant votes in 2019, though his 2020 outlook is certainly stronger, especially depending on how the last quarter of the year goes for his booking. He received 53% percent of the vote in the 2019 Hall of Fame balloting. I expect he’ll get in one day, though being pushed as a major part of AEW’s roster rather than (at times) a secondary act will be necessary to help convince those who are on the fence. I expect that to happen in the next year with a storyline of some sort with Hangman Page.
  • CM Punk is 16th all-time in award shares at 1.41, placing him directly below Kurt Angle and above Jushin Liger. He has been retired as a wrestler for almost six years now, after walking out on WWE, and he seems highly unlikely to return to the ring at any point. He finished at 20% of the vote in the ’19 Hall of Fame voting. His appeal is limited by the fact that he only spent about eight years on the WWE main roster, with only about six of those years as a main eventer. Despite his four-year run in Ring of Honor helping a highly successful alternative independent company to WWE, voters have given that run little credit; I personally think it’s received too little credit.
  • Mistico (aka WWE’s first Sin Cara, aka the current Caristico in CMLL) is 25th all-time in award shares at 0.85. This places him directly below Akira Maeda and Chris Benoit. Mistico is a very interesting case, in that before joining WWE he was among the most popular acts in lucha libre history in terms of peak popularity. His WWE run was an abject failure, though, and while he’s back to being a main eventer in CMLL, he’s not nearly the draw he once was. His mixed track record has left him with just 25% of the vote on the 2019 ballot. If he continues to rebuild his standing in Mexico, he could contend, but it looks like it’ll be years before that happens. The 2019 voting is certainly not encouraging for his chances, and CMLL being shutdown for most of this year won’t help.
  • Edge is 30th all-time in award shares at 0.75, placing him one spot above Triple H and one below Akira Hokuto (both of whom are in the Hall). Edge dropped slightly, from 50% to 49%, in the 2019 balloting. He’s finished above 36% the last nine years, but his 2018 total of 50% is his peak. Edge’s career ended early after a devastating neck injury, leaving him with about eight years as a main eventer in WWE. The impact of his main eventer run, and his tag team work with Christian earlier in his career, seems undervalued. However, his return this year with Randy Orton did not seem to make a significant difference in business and was cut short by an unfortunate injury. 2020 did not help his case, and may have hurt it.
  • Samoa Joe is 32nd all-time in award shares at 0.72, which puts him above Ted DiBiase and right below Triple H. Samoa Joe’s resume is based entirely on his work in secondary U.S. promotions TNA & RoH. He had a strong two-year run in NXT, but since has spent less than four years on the WWE main roster, where he is not featured as a top act with regularity. He’s spent more of the past year or so as an announcer than as a wrestler.
  • Sabu is 36th all-time in award shares at 0.51, placing him directly below Bruiser Brody and above Terry Funk (both of whose careers largely pre-date the Observer awards). Sabu will not get in – the entirety of his win shares come from 1994 and 1995, with most of that coming from 1994 where he narrowly finished behind Toshiaki Kawada. Sabu stands basically no chance of getting inducted, as his ECW career was imperfect and he fell off the Hall of Fame ballot in 2011 after receiving less than 10% of the vote. This is the first case where a high finish in this statistic certainly does not correlate with a likelihood of election.
  • Tetsuya Naito is 38th all-time in award shares at 0.50, right between Funk and Genichiro Tenryu. Naito has been one of the most popular wrestlers in New Japan for several years now, and won their top two championships in their 2020 Wrestle Kingdom weekend events. I don’t expect a big boost from his 2019, but he started 2020 strongly and is now back on top. Despite all of this, his matches haven’t been extremely impressive and his best in-ring days seem to largely be behind him. A strong run as champion should shore up his candidacy, as he only received 16% of the vote in 2019. It might take a little bit for people to realize how talented and popular Naito was in a time of New Japan having a ridiculously stacked roster.
  • Randy Orton is 40th all-time in win shares at 0.46, behind Tenryu and ahead of Eddie Guerrero. Orton will be a test case of what the value is of being a WWE main eventer in the 2010s outside of John Cena. He was heavily featured for the entirety of the decade when healthy, but he was not a notable vote getter in the Thesz/Flair award after 2011. Since then, he’s held one of their world championships four times but did not receive much acclaim for those runs. He also won worst feud and worst match of the 2017 Observer awards. Orton has stagnated in the voting, dropping to 23% in 2019 from his high in 2018 with 35%. Without a late career resurgence, Orton seems unlikely to get in until it’s been longer enough for people to forget how mediocre some of his more recent runs. His 2020 run seems to be relatively strong within WWE, but the company itself is still struggling and now has major competition.
  • Bob Sapp (45th all-time) and Tito Ortiz (49th) finished highly during the period before MMA had their own awards.
  • Will Ospreay has cracked the top 50, coming up to 49th after finishing third in this category in 2019. It’s very early for him, but if he can maintain his performances from last calendar year, he’ll be a shoe-in. I don’t think 2020 will help him a whole lot, but I am writing this having only watched one night of the G1. A super strong performance can give him a boost. He’s just 27, so there’s a lot of time left for him to accomplish things.

At this point, the top finishers who aren’t in the Hall in win shares are Naruki Doi, Great Sasuke, Davey Richards, Takashi Sugiura, Masato Yoshino, and Satoshi Kojima. Doi, Richards, Sugiura, and Yoshino have never been on the ballot; Sasuke was last on in 2004; and Kojima only received 13% of the vote for his tag team with Hiroyoshi Tenzan.

Most Outstanding Wrestler

This award is intended to solely recognize in-ring performance. Of the top ten recipients of win shares in this category, nine are in the Observer Hall; of the top 25, 16; of the top 50, 28. There’s a weaker correlation between this award and induction compared with the Thesz/Flair award. Of the top 40 finishers in win shares, 60% of them have been inducted.

Here are the top finishers in MVP shares that are not yet inducted into the Observer Hall of Fame:

  • Kazuchika Okada, 6th all-time with 2.89 shares, putting him between Jushin Liger and Hiroshi Tanahashi. His case is laid out above.
  • Kenny Omega, 12th all-time with 1.72 shares, finishing between Shawn Michaels and Toshiaki Kawada.
  • Davey Richards, 15th all-time with 1.46 shares, finishing behind Manami Toyota and above KENTA. Richards is the first name on this list that seems unlikely to be inducted. His shares come from high finishes in 2009-2011 carried by his work in Ring of Honor and New Japan. He hasn’t sniffed significant support since 2012.
  • KENTA, 16th all-time with 1.45 shares, behind Richards and above Eddie Guerrero. Unlike Richards, he has a chance – albeit an outside chance – of getting in. Before the outbreak, he was getting a pretty big push in New Japan. It probably will take him being one of the top two or three names in New Japan to have his case helped out, but the depth in this company is so stacked and KENTA is now 39. It doesn’t look great for him.
  • Will Ospreay, 18th all-time with 1.28 shares.
  • Samoa Joe, 19th all-time with 1.26 shares.
  • Tomohiro Ishii, 22nd all-time with 0.88 shares. Ishii’s case is built entirely on his in-ring performances. He’s never been a main eventer in a major company, but he’s been among the very best G1 performers – and, by extension, one of the best in-ring performers – for almost a decade.
  • Shinjiro Otani, 21st all-time with 0.87 shares. His career as a difference maker has largely been over for almost two decades, and he’s not even on the current ballot. There’s a case here for him based off of in-ring work, but he seems to largely be overlooked. I think that’s mianly because the junior heavyweights were never pushed as a key act in New Japan during his peak with them.
  • Koji Kanemoto, 24th all-time with 0.84 shares. His case is very similar to Otani’s. If one gets in, the other should. He also isn’t even on the ballot.
  • Kota Ibushi, 25th all-time with 0.81 shares.
  • Owen Hart, 26th all-time with 0.76 shares. Hart’s votes in this category are from the 80s. He was never pushed as a key star outside of a short period in the WWF during his great feud with Bret. Owen’s hypothetical career in the WWF of the early 2000s is very interesting, given his in-ring abilities and the changes that were happening to WWF’s product. He wouldn’t have even been 40 until 2005. Other Hall of Fames do have cases of giving projected credit to athletes who died during their career – look at the baseball Hall of Fame and Addie Joss, Roberto Clemente, Ed Delahanty, and Ross Youngs.
  • Finn Balor/Prince Devitt, 29th all-time with 0.73 shares. He has a chance if WWE gets behind him, or he goes to AEW or NJPW and is a difference maker. He is 39, but he looks like he could easily work at a top level for another five years or so.
  • Sabu, 33rd all-time with 0.57 shares. His case is mentioned above.
  • Naomichi Marufuji, 34th all-time with 0.54 shares. His commitment to NOAH and its relatively small status is probably why he won’t get a real shot.
  • Jun Akiyama, 38th all-time with 0.47 shares. Akiyama is very much like Marufuji, except Akiyama is older (50 versus Marufuji’s 41). He has a strong case, but suffers from being compared with Misawa and Kobashi.
  • Nigel McGuinness, 39th all-time with 0.464 shares. His in-ring career is done, and his key work was basically in Ring of Honor, which is not given credit among HoF voters.
  • Chris Hero, 41st all-time with 0.459 shares. Unless he has a late career resurgence, he’s another one that is not going to get in.
  • Satoshi Kojima, 43rd all-time with 0.4149 shares. He’s currently on the ballot, primarily for his tag team with Hiroyoshi Tenzan, but I think that hurts both of their chances. Both are important enough for their complete careers that they should be considered individually, and I think not limiting them to their tag accomplishments – which I think some voters are doing – would boost their candidacy. He’s not going to boost his candidacy any more at this point.
  • Shingo Takagi, 44th all-time with 0.4143 shares. It looked like his candidacy was done for awhile, but his run in New Japan has been a revelation. He’ll probably need more of a push to make a dent in the voting – the Ishii path into the Hall by being a great worker treated like a second tier star is very narrow.
  • CM Punk, 45th all-time with 0.38 shares.
  • Sami Zayn, 46th all-time with 0.37 shares. He’s not going to get the push necessary to change his career, barring a major change in situation.
  • Great Sasuke, 48th all-time with 0.32 shares. As said above, he hasn’t been on the ballot since 2004. He just doesn’t seem to be taken seriously as a candidate.
  • Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig, 49th all-time with 0.31 shares. His peak was probably too short, and he was not pushed as a major star after the early 90s.

Tag Team of the Year

I won’t spend as much time talking about this category, since there are fewer tag teams inducted into the Hall.

  • The Young Bucks, 1st all-time with 5.38 shares. The Bucks’ lead in this category is astonishing. Not only do they have the credibility of consistently great matches, they helped former All Elite Wrestling, which has turned out to be the first major alternative US promotion in the U.S. since WCW (they’ve certainly already accomplished more than TNA did at their peak). This will irritate the Jim Cornette voting block, but I can’t fathom a legitimate argument that they don’t deserve a spot.
  • The Briscoes, 2nd all-time with 2.19 shares. Their entire career is in RoH. Jay’s had two RoH World Championship runs. It feels like they have no chance of getting inducted due to where they’ve spent their career.
  • Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane, 3rd all-time with 2.12 shares. Inducted under the Midnight Express.
  • The Steiner Brothers, 4th all-time with 2.06 shares. I’m shocked they’ve never received serious consideration – they have been on the ballot for three years, the last being in 2007; and they only broke 10 percent once. They were major draws in Japan and did well in the U.S. Scott Steiner also has some success as a singles star, though the majority of that came as WCW was dying.
  • Hawk and Animal, 5th all-time with 2.02 shares. Inducted.
  • Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey, 6th all-time with 1.60 shares. Inducted under the Midnight Express.
  • KENTA & Naomichi Marufuji, 7th all-time with 1.59 shares. They had a short peak as a team, but they won the Tag Team award twice and finished a strong second once. Those were the only three years they received any votes, though. They shouldn’t get in as a tag, but maybe considering this tag run would help their individual candidacy.
  • Toshiaki Kawada & Akira Taue, 8th all-time with 1.40 shares. Kawada has been inducted. Taue is on the ballot. They had a five-year run getting votes in this category. This is a point in Taue’s favor.
  • Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Bucanero, 9th all-time with 1.39 shares. Guerrero has been inducted; Rey Bucanero has not. I don’t know enough about Bucanero’s candidacy to make a strong assessment here, but WON Award voting has largely overlooked lucha libre. This team has been on the ballot twice, both times receiving less than 10% of the vote. Bucanero’s WON Awards have all been tied to this tag team.
  • Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly, 10th all-time with 1.29 shares. Despite their strong performances, they feel like they have no chance of getting in as a unit. They’ve never been pushed as a main event group, with their strongest sustained push being in NXT as part of the Undisputed Era where they have been support to Adam Cole.

FOWLES scores for the week of 2/23

It’s been awhile since I’ve done these. This is for the upcoming week of games.

The higher the score, the more exciting the game will hopefully be.

Team 1Team 2DateScore
Western IllinoisDenverFebruary 29, 202082.9
DukeVirginia TechFebruary 27, 202080.2
California BaptistSeattleFebruary 29, 202080
AkronMiami (Ohio)February 29, 202078.9
HowardNorfolk StateFebruary 29, 202078.7
ButlerSaint John`sFebruary 28, 202078.6
Sam Houston StateAbilene ChristianFebruary 26, 202078.5
Southern MississippiUTEPFebruary 29, 202078.4
Northern IllinoisWestern MichiganFebruary 29, 202078.4
Western IllinoisOral RobertsFebruary 27, 202078.3
Tennessee TechJacksonville StateFebruary 29, 202078.2
TexasTexas ChristianFebruary 26, 202078.2
Oral RobertsDenverFebruary 23, 202078.1
DelawareTowsonFebruary 28, 202078
Alcorn StateAlabama StateFebruary 24, 202077.9
New OrleansNicholls StateFebruary 29, 202077.9
Eastern MichiganNorthern IllinoisFebruary 26, 202077.9
California BaptistUtah ValleyFebruary 26, 202077.7
KansasOklahomaFebruary 26, 202077.7
Morehead StateAustin PeayFebruary 27, 202077.6
TowsonNortheasternFebruary 23, 202077.6
OregonStanfordFebruary 24, 202077.4
Texas TechOklahoma StateFebruary 26, 202077.3
SyracuseNotre DameFebruary 23, 202077.3
Northern ArizonaMontanaFebruary 27, 202077.2
WinthropLongwoodFebruary 25, 202077.2
Western KentuckyMiddle TennesseeFebruary 29, 202077.1
West VirginiaIowa StateFebruary 29, 202077.1
PepperdineSan DiegoFebruary 29, 202076.9
Iowa StateKansas StateFebruary 26, 202076.9
La SalleGeorge MasonFebruary 29, 202076.8
Delaware StateMaryland-Eastern ShoreFebruary 29, 202076.7
Miami (Ohio)BuffaloFebruary 26, 202076.6
UtahSouthern CaliforniaFebruary 28, 202076.6
Southern IllinoisBradleyFebruary 27, 202076.4
San Jose StateUNLVFebruary 27, 202076.2
FairfieldManhattanFebruary 29, 202076.2
UNC GreensboroSamfordFebruary 27, 202076.1
Long Beach StateCal State NorthridgeFebruary 27, 202076
William & MaryDelawareFebruary 23, 202076
MerrimackMount Saint Mary`sFebruary 23, 202075.8
AuburnMissouriFebruary 27, 202075.7
McNeese StateHouston BaptistFebruary 29, 202075.7
WagnerSaint Francis (NY)February 23, 202075.6
NorthwesternOhio StateFebruary 25, 202075.6
MichiganMichigan StateFebruary 23, 202075.6
GeorgetownProvidenceFebruary 28, 202075.6
Ohio StatePurdueFebruary 29, 202075.4
Cal State BakersfieldTexas-Rio Grande ValleyFebruary 27, 202075.4
Cleveland StateMilwaukeeFebruary 29, 202075.4
Austin PeayMurray StateFebruary 29, 202075.4
ToledoBall StateFebruary 26, 202075.4
FordhamDuquesneFebruary 25, 202075.2
Green BayIUPUIFebruary 23, 202075.1
Fresno StateWyomingFebruary 27, 202075.1
Massachusetts-LowellVermontFebruary 29, 202075.1
SienaMonmouthFebruary 27, 202075.1
North TexasMarshallFebruary 29, 202075
IonaSienaFebruary 29, 202075
North Carolina CentralSouth Carolina StateFebruary 29, 202074.8
ToledoEastern MichiganFebruary 29, 202074.8
Miami (Fla.)Boston CollegeFebruary 23, 202074.8
YalePennFebruary 28, 202074.8
San Diego StateColorado StateFebruary 24, 202074.6
Youngstown StateMilwaukeeFebruary 27, 202074.6
VillanovaCreightonFebruary 28, 202074.5
Long Beach StateUC Santa BarbaraFebruary 29, 202074.4
Holy CrossAmericanFebruary 29, 202074.4
Grand CanyonTexas-Rio Grande ValleyFebruary 29, 202074.3
UC DavisHawaiiFebruary 23, 202074.2
MaristQuinnipiacFebruary 29, 202074.2
Southeast Missouri StateTennessee-MartinFebruary 29, 202074.2
Massachusetts-LowellAlbanyFebruary 26, 202074.2
DrexelJames MadisonFebruary 28, 202074.2
UNC AshevilleGardner-WebbFebruary 25, 202074.1
South Carolina StateFlorida A&MFebruary 24, 202074.1
Saint Francis (NY)Sacred HeartFebruary 29, 202074
AkronKent StateFebruary 26, 202074
LehighBoston UniversityFebruary 26, 202073.9
BryantSacred HeartFebruary 23, 202073.9
RichmondGeorge WashingtonFebruary 29, 202073.9
Rhode IslandMassachusettsFebruary 29, 202073.8
JacksonvilleStetsonFebruary 29, 202073.7
WagnerLong IslandFebruary 29, 202073.7
Idaho StatePortland StateFebruary 27, 202073.6
NevadaSan Diego StateFebruary 27, 202073.6
Mount Saint Mary`sSaint Francis (PA)February 29, 202073.5
Louisiana-LafayetteAppalachian StateFebruary 27, 202073.5
Fairleigh DickinsonBryantFebruary 29, 202073.5
North Dakota StateNorth DakotaFebruary 23, 202073.5
Wichita StateTulsaFebruary 23, 202073.4
MassachusettsSaint Joseph`sFebruary 26, 202073.4
Grand CanyonNew Mexico StateFebruary 27, 202073.4
Cal State BakersfieldNew Mexico StateFebruary 29, 202073.3
Oklahoma StateKansasFebruary 29, 202073.3
WoffordFurmanFebruary 29, 202073.2
BuffaloOhioFebruary 29, 202073.2
DavidsonLa SalleFebruary 26, 202073.2
Kennesaw StateNorth AlabamaFebruary 24, 202073.2
TulaneEast CarolinaFebruary 29, 202073.1
College of CharlestonUNC WilmingtonFebruary 23, 202073
Eastern KentuckyMurray StateFebruary 27, 202073
Eastern IllinoisSoutheast Missouri StateFebruary 27, 202072.9
UNC GreensboroMercerFebruary 29, 202072.9
Southern CaliforniaWashington StateFebruary 23, 202072.8
Georgia StateTexas StateFebruary 29, 202072.7
Texas TechIowa StateFebruary 23, 202072.7
StanfordArizonaFebruary 28, 202072.6
Oklahoma StateTexas ChristianFebruary 23, 202072.6
Cal State FullertonUC RiversideFebruary 27, 202072.6
NavyLoyola MarylandFebruary 26, 202072.6
ColumbiaHarvardFebruary 28, 202072.4
South CarolinaKentuckyFebruary 23, 202072.3
OmahaNorth Dakota StateFebruary 29, 202072.2
CornellDartmouthFebruary 28, 202072.2
NebraskaIndianaFebruary 27, 202072
OklahomaTexasFebruary 29, 202072
Arkansas-Pine BluffGramblingFebruary 29, 202072
TroySouth AlabamaFebruary 29, 202071.9
Alabama A&MTexas SouthernFebruary 29, 202071.9
Northern ArizonaMontana StateFebruary 29, 202071.9
North FloridaLibertyFebruary 24, 202071.9
ElonWilliam & MaryFebruary 28, 202071.8
Southern UtahIdahoFebruary 29, 202071.8
WyomingNevadaFebruary 24, 202071.8
Cal State NorthridgeCal PolyFebruary 29, 202071.7
SouthernAlabama A&MFebruary 24, 202071.7
SyracuseNorth Carolina StateFebruary 27, 202071.7
Colorado StateAir ForceFebruary 27, 202071.7
North CarolinaWake ForestFebruary 23, 202071.6
DukeNorth Carolina StateFebruary 24, 202071.6
Northern ColoradoIdahoFebruary 27, 202071.5
HofstraCollege of CharlestonFebruary 28, 202071.5
Rhode IslandGeorge WashingtonFebruary 25, 202071.5
VirginiaVirginia TechFebruary 23, 202071.4
Sacramento StateMontanaFebruary 29, 202071.2
GeorgiaLSUFebruary 23, 202071.2
NiagaraCanisiusFebruary 24, 202071.2
HawaiiUC IrvineFebruary 27, 202071.1
PennPrincetonFebruary 25, 202071
RichmondSaint BonaventureFebruary 23, 202071
Santa ClaraSaint Mary`sFebruary 27, 202070.9
Utah StateSan Jose StateFebruary 24, 202070.8
Delaware StateMorgan StateFebruary 24, 202070.8
ColumbiaDartmouthFebruary 29, 202070.7
North CarolinaNotre DameFebruary 27, 202070.6
LongwoodHigh PointFebruary 29, 202070.6
Stony BrookMaineFebruary 23, 202070.6
Santa ClaraPacificFebruary 29, 202070.4
UC Santa BarbaraCal PolyFebruary 26, 202070.3
Georgia SouthernTexas StateFebruary 27, 202070.3
Norfolk StateBethune-CookmanFebruary 24, 202070.3
HawaiiCal State FullertonFebruary 29, 202070.3
High PointPresbyterianFebruary 25, 202070.2
ArkansasMississippi StateFebruary 27, 202070
Southern UtahEastern WashingtonFebruary 27, 202070
New OrleansTexas A&M-Corpus ChristiFebruary 26, 202069.9
CanisiusIonaFebruary 27, 202069.9
Morehead StateEastern KentuckyFebruary 29, 202069.9
OaklandYoungstown StateFebruary 23, 202069.7
GeorgiaKentuckyFebruary 27, 202069.6
PepperdineBYUFebruary 27, 202069.6
LafayetteNavyFebruary 29, 202069.5
Florida StateGeorgia TechFebruary 23, 202069.4
HowardNorth Carolina CentralFebruary 24, 202069.4
VCUDavidsonFebruary 29, 202069.3
Northwestern StateSoutheastern LouisianaFebruary 29, 202069.3
Miami (Fla.)Wake ForestFebruary 27, 202069.3
North DakotaOmahaFebruary 27, 202069.2
Northern IowaValparaisoFebruary 28, 202069.2
DaytonSaint LouisFebruary 29, 202069.2
Loyola MarymountSan DiegoFebruary 27, 202068.8
UNLVBoise StateFebruary 24, 202068.7
Indiana StateEvansvilleFebruary 28, 202068.6
San FranciscoSaint Mary`sFebruary 29, 202068.6
Air ForceNew MexicoFebruary 24, 202068.5
ArkansasFloridaFebruary 23, 202068.4
LamarIncarnate WordFebruary 26, 202068.3
San FranciscoPacificFebruary 27, 202068.2
Saint LouisRichmondFebruary 26, 202068.2
TempleUCFFebruary 26, 202067.9
MinnesotaIowaFebruary 27, 202067.9
Arizona StateUtahFebruary 23, 202067.9
Northern ColoradoEastern WashingtonFebruary 29, 202067.8
Central MichiganBall StateFebruary 29, 202067.8
New MexicoUtah StateFebruary 27, 202067.8
Cleveland StateGreen BayFebruary 27, 202067.7
McNeese StateSoutheastern LouisianaFebruary 26, 202067.7
Alabama StatePrairie ViewFebruary 29, 202067.5
AmericanLafayetteFebruary 26, 202067.2
NortheasternUNC WilmingtonFebruary 28, 202067.1
YalePrincetonFebruary 29, 202067
CornellHarvardFebruary 29, 202066.8
AlabamaTexas A&MFebruary 27, 202066.8
ProvidenceButlerFebruary 23, 202066.8
Northern KentuckyOaklandFebruary 29, 202066.8
Youngstown StateGreen BayFebruary 29, 202066.8
Louisiana-LafayetteCoastal CarolinaFebruary 29, 202066.7
New HampshireBinghamtonFebruary 29, 202066.6
DePaulVillanovaFebruary 23, 202066.5
Eastern IllinoisSIU EdwardsvilleFebruary 29, 202066.3
East Tennessee StateChattanoogaFebruary 29, 202066.3
ArizonaColoradoFebruary 23, 202066.3
CaliforniaArizona StateFebruary 28, 202066.3
Houston BaptistNicholls StateFebruary 26, 202066.3
WisconsinRutgersFebruary 27, 202066.3
PurdueMarylandFebruary 25, 202066.1
BucknellColgateFebruary 26, 202066.1
ColgateArmyFebruary 29, 202065.9
Kent StateBowling GreenFebruary 29, 202065.8
Maryland-Baltimore CountyBinghamtonFebruary 26, 202065.8
RiderFairfieldFebruary 27, 202065.6
Boston UniversityBucknellFebruary 29, 202065.4
SouthernAlcorn StateFebruary 29, 202065.2
TulsaTempleFebruary 29, 202065.2
TulaneCincinnatiFebruary 23, 202065.1
VanderbiltTennesseeFebruary 23, 202065.1
CincinnatiWichita StateFebruary 29, 202065.1
Oregon StateCaliforniaFebruary 23, 202065
Arkansas-Little RockArkansas StateFebruary 28, 202065
Central ArkansasAbilene ChristianFebruary 29, 202064.8
RiceLouisiana TechFebruary 29, 202064.8
ArmyHoly CrossFebruary 26, 202064.8
North AlabamaFlorida Gulf CoastFebruary 29, 202064.6
LamarStephen F. AustinFebruary 29, 202064.1
Sacramento StateMontana StateFebruary 27, 202064
Long IslandSaint Francis (PA)February 23, 202063.9
Tennessee TechBelmontFebruary 27, 202063.9
Gardner-WebbSouth Carolina UpstateFebruary 29, 202063.9
Georgia StateTexas-ArlingtonFebruary 27, 202063.7
Weber StatePortland StateFebruary 29, 202063.6
VanderbiltLSUFebruary 27, 202063.6
NJITKennesaw StateFebruary 29, 202063.5
SMUSouth FloridaFebruary 29, 202063.4
XavierSeton HallFebruary 28, 202063.3
Florida AtlanticOld DominionFebruary 26, 202063.2
Florida AtlanticOld DominionFebruary 29, 202063.2
DuquesneSaint BonaventureFebruary 29, 202063.2
UC RiversideUC DavisFebruary 29, 202063.2
George MasonVCUFebruary 26, 202062.9
Michigan StateIllinoisFebruary 26, 202062.8
Missouri StateIllinois StateFebruary 27, 202062.6
Western MichiganCentral MichiganFebruary 26, 202062.6
Saint Joseph`sFordhamFebruary 29, 202062.3
DetroitCleveland StateFebruary 23, 202062.3
PresbyterianCampbellFebruary 29, 202062.2
AuburnTexas A&MFebruary 23, 202062.2
DenverFort WayneFebruary 27, 202062.2
MichiganPenn StateFebruary 27, 202062.2
FairfieldMaristFebruary 24, 202062
WashingtonOregon StateFebruary 28, 202061.7
McNeese StateSam Houston StateFebruary 29, 202061.6
Georgia SouthernTexas-ArlingtonFebruary 29, 202061.6
Jacksonville StateTennessee StateFebruary 27, 202061.4
Coppin StateMorgan StateFebruary 29, 202061.3
Charleston SouthernHamptonFebruary 29, 202061.3
ColoradoUCLAFebruary 28, 202061.2
UCFMemphisFebruary 29, 202061.2
Loyola MarymountBYUFebruary 29, 202061.2
PittsburghVirginiaFebruary 27, 202061.1
Maryland-Eastern ShoreNorth Carolina A&TFebruary 24, 202061.1
Incarnate WordTexas A&M-Corpus ChristiFebruary 29, 202061.1
East CarolinaSouth FloridaFebruary 25, 202061
DrakeLoyola ChicagoFebruary 28, 202061
LipscombJacksonvilleFebruary 24, 202060.9
AlabamaMississippi StateFebruary 23, 202060.9
IonaRiderFebruary 23, 202060.9
ElonDrexelFebruary 23, 202060.8
Texas SouthernArkansas-Pine BluffFebruary 24, 202060.8
Wright StateOaklandFebruary 27, 202060.6
MaineNew HampshireFebruary 26, 202060.6
MississippiMissouriFebruary 23, 202060.5
ClemsonFlorida StateFebruary 27, 202060.1
MaineMaryland-Baltimore CountyFebruary 29, 202059.8
StetsonNJITFebruary 24, 202059.5
CreightonXavierFebruary 23, 202059.4
OhioBowling GreenFebruary 26, 202059.4
Prairie ViewMississippi Valley StateFebruary 24, 202059.4
UCLAWashingtonFebruary 23, 202059.3
BrownPennFebruary 29, 202059.2
GonzagaPortlandFebruary 29, 202059.1
MarquetteGeorgetownFebruary 23, 202059
Western CarolinaMercerFebruary 27, 202059
Northern KentuckyDetroitFebruary 27, 202059
Saint Peter`sQuinnipiacFebruary 27, 202058.8
RadfordWinthropFebruary 29, 202058.6
Louisiana-MonroeAppalachian StateFebruary 29, 202058.2
Robert MorrisFairleigh DickinsonFebruary 23, 202058
Fort WayneOral RobertsFebruary 29, 202058
Kansas StateBaylorFebruary 29, 202057.5
LibertyLipscombFebruary 29, 202057.4
BaylorWest VirginiaFebruary 24, 202057.3
AlbanyStony BrookFebruary 29, 202057.3
North DakotaSouth DakotaFebruary 29, 202057.3
Boston CollegeLouisvilleFebruary 27, 202057.2
Central ConnecticutMerrimackFebruary 29, 202057
UABTexas-San AntonioFebruary 29, 202056.9
Saint BonaventureDaytonFebruary 26, 202056.7
Western CarolinaSamfordFebruary 29, 202056.6
Mississippi Valley StateJackson StateFebruary 29, 202056.1
CanisiusRiderFebruary 29, 202056.1
SIU EdwardsvilleTennessee-MartinFebruary 27, 202055.8
CampbellCharleston SouthernFebruary 25, 202055.8
IllinoisNorthwesternFebruary 29, 202055.7
South CarolinaFloridaFebruary 27, 202055.7
Washington StateOregonFebruary 28, 202055.4
South Carolina UpstateRadfordFebruary 25, 202055.3
MilwaukeeIllinois-ChicagoFebruary 23, 202055.2
EvansvilleSouthern IllinoisFebruary 23, 202055.1
ConnecticutCincinnatiFebruary 26, 202055
MississippiTennesseeFebruary 27, 202054.6
Stephen F. AustinNorthwestern StateFebruary 26, 202054.6
Stony BrookHartfordFebruary 26, 202053.5
Wright StateDetroitFebruary 29, 202053.4
BrownPrincetonFebruary 28, 202053.1
Louisiana-MonroeCoastal CarolinaFebruary 27, 202052.8
Florida InternationalCharlotteFebruary 29, 202052.8
Missouri-Kansas CityChicago StateFebruary 29, 202052.8
South Dakota StateNorth Dakota StateFebruary 27, 202051.7
BelmontTennessee StateFebruary 29, 202048.9
Indiana StateMissouri StateFebruary 23, 202048.9
James MadisonHofstraFebruary 23, 202047.8
Illinois-ChicagoIUPUIFebruary 28, 202047.6
ConnecticutHoustonFebruary 29, 202047.6
LouisvillePittsburghFebruary 23, 202046.3

Underexplained Top 25 – 11/19

I’ve updated my preseason rankings to reflect results os far.

  1. Oregon (previously: 1)
  2. Baylor (2)
  3. Arizona (3)
  4. UConn (4)
  5. Oregon St. (5)
  6. Mississippi St. (6)
  7. Kentucky (8)
  8. Florida St. (11)
  9. Maryland (7)
  10. Texas A&M (13)
  11. Louisville (9)
  12. South Dakota (16)
  13. Purdue (14)
  14. South Fla. (18)
  15. Missouri St. (49)
  16. Indiana (23)
  17. Stanford (22)
  18. Syracuse (38)
  19. DePaul (19)
  20. Minnesota (26)
  21. Drake (41)
  22. Ohio (15)
  23. James Madison (17)
  24. West Virginia (30)
  25. Penn (34)

Three Things to Learn From Last Night

1) Notre Dame isn’t a top 15 team right now

The Fighting Irish lost to Tennessee, 74-63, last night at home. They did this despite Tennessee turning the ball over 28 times. Tennessee also blocked 12 Notre Dame shots. The average height of the Lady Vols’ starters was 6’2.4” compared to that of Notre Dame’s 5’10.4”, and this raises the question of if Notre Dame will be vulnerable to taller teams. Notre Dame is also starting two true freshmen and a sophomore (alongside grad students Destinee Walker & Marta Sniezek). The froshes, Anaya Peoples and Sam Brunelle, ranked 18th & 6th in the ESPN HoopGurlz top 100 recruits for the class of 2019, but women’s college basketball is obviously a sport that rewards experience. Muffet McGraw is a great coach, and she should be able to coach this squad up, but it isn’t there yet.

2) Towson’s not where I thought they’d be

I thought the Tigers would be one of the top mid-majors this year, as I had them ranked 65th preseason, but they’re off to a 0-3 start with losses to Penn State, San Diego State, and San Diego. Penn State’s seemingly rebuilding, and both of the California losses were on the road for the Maryland-based Towson squad, but it’s still got to be a disappointing kickoff to the season. Kionna Jeter is their returning star, and she is averaging 16.7 PPG. But she’s doing so on 35.1% FG%, and just 4/17 from three. When she gets her shot right, she should be able to get them back on the right side of the win column.

3) Wait on the UNC hype

UNC is a team I had ranked low in the preseason (225 in D-I). They’re now 2-0 after home wins against Navy and Western Carolina. Neither of those teams should particularly inspire fear in you, nor should the next two Tar Heels opponents: Charleston Southern & Elon. The Tar Heels don’t leave home until a December 15 trip to Alabama, but they do have a home test against Missouri on the 29th of this month. That game should tell us a lot more about this team than anything you’d get out of these first two.

All 351 NCAA Division I Teams Ranked, Preseason

Here are my preseason rankings for all of the D-I teams this year. This is the first time I’ve tried to rank this many teams before, and the middle definitely sticks together at points.

These rankings are based on the VORPs of returning players (with as up to date information as I have gathered), while also factoring in teams’ defensive performances last year and giving a bonus to teams from stronger conferences.

Overall RankTeamConference
1OregonPac-12
2BaylorBig 12
3ArizonaPac-12
4UConnAmerican
5Oregon St.Pac-12
6Mississippi St.SEC
7MarylandBig Ten
8KentuckySEC
9LouisvilleACC
10CincinnatiAmerican
11Florida St.ACC
12Iowa St.Big 12
13Texas A&MSEC
14PurdueBig Ten
15OhioMAC
16South DakotaSummit
17James MadisonColonial
18South Fla.American
19DePaulBig East
20RiceCon USA
21South Dakota St.Summit
22StanfordPac-12
23IndianaBig Ten
24DrexelColonial
25MarquetteBig East
26MinnesotaBig Ten
27BucknellPatriot
28FGCUAtlantic Sun
29LSUSEC
30West VirginiaBig 12
31VillanovaBig East
32South AlabamaSun Belt
33DukeACC
34PennIvy
35PacificWest Coast
36AuburnSEC
37HartfordAmerica East
38SyracuseACC
39TCUBig 12
40BYUWest Coast
41DrakeMVC
42Central Mich.MAC
43TexasBig 12
44Kansas St.Big 12
45MaristMAAC
46UABCon USA
47VCUAtlantic 10
48MichiganBig Ten
49Missouri St.MVC
50BradleyMVC
51GonzagaWest Coast
52Boise St.Mountain West
53Fresno St.Mountain West
54Miami (OH)MAC
55Abilene ChristianSouthland
56North Ala.Atlantic Sun
57Arkansas St.Sun Belt
58BelmontOhio Valley
59Youngstown St.Horizon
60MissouriSEC
61Seton HallBig East
62Virginia TechACC
63UCLAPac-12
64NC StateACC
65TowsonColonial
66Southern Miss.Con USA
67Texas TechBig 12
68South CarolinaSEC
69Michigan St.Big Ten
70NorthwesternBig Ten
71UC RiversideBig West
72Coastal Caro.Sun Belt
73BuffaloMAC
74IUPUIHorizon
75LehighPatriot
76Western Ky.Con USA
77RiderMAAC
78PrincetonIvy
79UT ArlingtonSun Belt
80YaleIvy
81ProvidenceBig East
82St. John's (NY)Big East
83Miami (FL)ACC
84PepperdineWest Coast
85FordhamAtlantic 10
86George MasonAtlantic 10
87UCFAmerican
88Portland St.Big Sky
89MassachusettsAtlantic 10
90East CarolinaAmerican
91N.C. A&TMEAC
92Robert MorrisNortheast
93NebraskaBig Ten
94UMKCWAC
95TulaneAmerican
96Old DominionCon USA
97DenverSummit
98DavidsonAtlantic 10
99Washington St.Pac-12
100WyomingMountain West
101IowaBig Ten
102Northern Ill.MAC
103New Mexico St.WAC
104HamptonBig South
105Kent St.MAC
106AkronMAC
107Saint Mary's (CA)West Coast
108New MexicoMountain West
109A&M-Corpus ChristiSouthland
110UNC GreensboroSouthern
111Oklahoma St.Big 12
112ManhattanMAAC
113ToledoMAC
114UT MartinOhio Valley
115MilwaukeeHorizon
116TennesseeSEC
117LafayettePatriot
118Gardner-WebbBig South
119DaytonAtlantic 10
120DuquesneAtlantic 10
121CornellIvy
122Eastern Mich.MAC
123Georgia TechACC
124GeorgiaSEC
125AlabamaSEC
126VirginiaACC
127Little RockSun Belt
128Southern Ill.MVC
129TroySun Belt
130Stony BrookAmerica East
131UC DavisBig West
132Holy CrossPatriot
133Notre DameACC
134Tennessee TechOhio Valley
135Green BayHorizon
136SFASouthland
137Southeast Mo. St.Ohio Valley
138Boston CollegeACC
139ButlerBig East
140Western Ill.Summit
141Appalachian St.Sun Belt
142AmericanPatriot
143WoffordSouthern
144Jackson St.SWAC
145California BaptistWAC
146ColgatePatriot
147StetsonAtlantic Sun
148Texas SouthernSWAC
149LibertyAtlantic Sun
150HoustonAmerican
151OklahomaBig 12
152Montana St.Big Sky
153Idaho St.Big Sky
154TulsaAmerican
155UtahPac-12
156ClemsonACC
157CreightonBig East
158Arizona St.Pac-12
159Sam Houston St.Southland
160RadfordBig South
161RutgersBig Ten
162Loyola MarylandPatriot
163MercerSouthern
164CharlotteCon USA
165QuinnipiacMAAC
166Oral RobertsSummit
167Santa ClaraWest Coast
168Austin PeayOhio Valley
169Loyola MarymountWest Coast
170Northern Colo.Big Sky
171Loyola ChicagoMVC
172NortheasternColonial
173UNCWColonial
174North FloridaAtlantic Sun
175Prairie ViewSWAC
176ETSUSouthern
177North TexasCon USA
178Western Mich.MAC
179CaliforniaPac-12
180Texas St.Sun Belt
181XavierBig East
182IdahoBig Sky
183UNIMVC
184Norfolk St.MEAC
185Illinois St.MVC
186William & MaryColonial
187St. Francis BrooklynNortheast
188USC UpstateBig South
189UC IrvineBig West
190Georgia St.Sun Belt
191HarvardIvy
192NavyPatriot
193San Diego St.Mountain West
194Wright St.Horizon
195Kennesaw St.Atlantic Sun
196HowardMEAC
197DelawareColonial
198DartmouthIvy
199Utah ValleyWAC
200High PointBig South
201Saint LouisAtlantic 10
202Nicholls St.Southland
203Southern UtahBig Sky
204UNC AshevilleBig South
205Southern U.SWAC
206Air ForceMountain West
207Northern Ky.Horizon
208Jacksonville St.Ohio Valley
209Cal St. FullertonBig West
210FurmanSouthern
211Lamar UniversitySouthland
212Murray St.Ohio Valley
213CampbellBig South
214ChattanoogaSouthern
215South Carolina St.MEAC
216UTRGVWAC
217Mount St. Mary'sNortheast
218Wake ForestACC
219IllinoisBig Ten
220WisconsinBig Ten
221Ohio St.Big Ten
222TempleAmerican
223MarshallCon USA
224Penn St.Big Ten
225North CarolinaACC
226WashingtonPac-12
227ColoradoPac-12
228Bowling GreenMAC
229KansasBig 12
230Sacramento St.Big Sky
231Boston U.Patriot
232Ga. SouthernSun Belt
233PortlandWest Coast
234LouisianaSun Belt
235BinghamtonAmerica East
236N.C. CentralMEAC
237Saint Joseph'sAtlantic 10
238BryantNortheast
239MonmouthMAAC
240Coppin St.MEAC
241Albany (NY)America East
242UC Santa BarbaraBig West
243Arkansas St.Sun Belt
244McNeeseSouthland
245Wichita St.American
246New OrleansSouthland
247VermontAmerica East
248Bethune-CookmanMEAC
249Eastern Ill.Ohio Valley
250Saint Francis (PA)Northeast
251SamfordSouthern
252MontanaBig Sky
253UNLVMountain West
254ColumbiaIvy
255Cleveland St.Horizon
256SIUEOhio Valley
257Alabama A&MSWAC
258WinthropBig South
259MemphisAmerican
260Middle Tenn.Con USA
261San DiegoWest Coast
262VanderbiltSEC
263Ball St.MAC
264Louisiana TechCon USA
265Northwestern St.Southland
266NiagaraMAAC
267FloridaSEC
268Northern Ariz.Big Sky
269Southeastern La.Southland
270GeorgetownBig East
271UMESMEAC
272Sacred HeartNortheast
273OmahaSummit
274Colorado St.Mountain West
275La.-MonroeSun Belt
276ValparaisoMVC
277CanisiusMAAC
278La SalleAtlantic 10
279LongwoodBig South
280San FranciscoWest Coast
281SMUAmerican
282RichmondAtlantic 10
283Utah St.Mountain West
284Rhode IslandAtlantic 10
285UMBCAmerica East
286Central Ark.Southland
287Long Beach St.Big West
288FairfieldMAAC
289Alabama St.SWAC
290Morgan St.MEAC
291Saint Peter'sMAAC
292HawaiiBig West
293Fairleigh DickinsonNortheast
294IonaMAAC
295SienaMAAC
296BrownIvy
297Army West PointPatriot
298Central Conn. St.Northeast
299Eastern Wash.Big Sky
300Southern CaliforniaPac-12
301HofstraColonial
302Col. of CharlestonColonial
303OaklandHorizon
304Houston BaptistSouthland
305ElonColonial
306San Jose St.Mountain West
307UTEPCon USA
308UMass LowellAmerica East
309New HampshireAmerica East
310Seattle UWAC
311Fla. AtlanticCon USA
312JacksonvilleAtlantic Sun
313Charleston So.Big South
314WagnerNortheast
315PresbyterianBig South
316CSUNBig West
317LIU BrooklynNortheast
318Ark.-Pine BluffSWAC
319AlcornSWAC
320Detroit MercyHorizon
321St. BonaventureAtlantic 10
322Purdue Fort WayneSummit
323UTSACon USA
324NJITAtlantic Sun
325CSU BakersfieldWAC
326Tennessee St.Ohio Valley
327Grand CanyonWAC
328FIUCon USA
329Weber St.Big Sky
330UICHorizon
331Chicago St.WAC
332North DakotaSummit
333MerrimackNortheast
334Incarnate WordSouthland
335LipscombAtlantic Sun
336Cal PolyBig West
337George WashingtonAtlantic 10
338NevadaMountain West
339Ole MissSEC
340PittsburghACC
341North Dakota St.Summit
342Eastern Ky.Ohio Valley
343Delaware St.MEAC
344EvansvilleMVC
345Western Caro.Southern
346Mississippi Val.SWAC
347Florida A&MMEAC
348GramblingSWAC
349Indiana St.MVC
350MaineAmerica East
351Morehead St.Ohio Valley

2019-2020 Atlantic 10 Conference Preview

Hello everyone. I’ve fallen off my writing this year, in part because of a new job and in part because of dealing with some personal things that were going on. As a result, there won’t be a full preview book this year like there was last year.

What I will do is write up what I can and share some of it for free on this blog. However, further information on each conference I do finish up before the season starts will be up on my Patreon. For just $5 a month, you’ll get access to the advanced stats I’ll be posting, plus full information for each conference preview I get done, including preseason all-conference teams, team level breakdowns based off the ’18-’19 season, and top player rankings in advanced stats for each conference.

The full A-10 preview will be up on Patreon shortly. For now, enjoy the basic information below.

Team are listed in order of projected finish

#1 Virginia Commonwealth Rams

2018-19 record: 23-9, 13-3 Atlantic 10, tied for first place

Postseason: WNIT second round loss to Virginia Tech, 82-72; first round win vs. Charlotte, 65-52

Head coach: Beth O’Boyle

Career record: 155-116, nine seasons (previous schools: Montclair State, Stony Brook)

Record at VCU: 69-56, four seasons

VCU just had a tremendous single season improvement, going from seven to 23 wins in the span of a year. A lot of that hinged on a fantastic defensive performance that ranked among the season’s best. With almost all of their key personnel from ’18-’19 returning, I don’t have much of a reason to doubt they’ll be able to replicate that performance.

The Rams return their top nine players on last year’s team in terms of minutes played. They’re very much running back the same team, as they have no freshmen on the ’19-’20 roster.

Defensively, Beth O’Boyle’s team didn’t do anything overly flashly like force a huge number of turnovers. They just kept opponents from scoring, with an opposing effective field goal percentage that was the second best in the nation. A huge part of this comes from elite shot blockers Danielle Hammond and Kseniya Malashka. They also controlled the boards, having the 22nd best opposing offensive rebounding rate in D-I.

The Rams offense last year falls solidly in the category of “good enough,” with an offensive rating that put them solidly in the middle of Division I. One thing to note with their offense was their reluctance to take three pointers; VCU ranked in the bottom 50 nationally in their willingness to gun it from deep. However, Olga Petrova (29-71 from 3) and Tera Reed (22-55) both recorded high efficiency in limited tries. If one or both can maintain that success rate with more green light opportunities, it should help diversify and improve their offense.

VCU is among my favorites for the conference. With as much talent as they have returning, it wouldn’t shock me to have them be one of the best mid-majors in the country this year.

Losses:

Graduated: Jailyn Maddox, 5’10” senior guard – 15 G, 0 starts, 8.7 MPG, 2.5 PPG, shot 46.2% TS%/39.4 eFG% on 18.6% usage, 14.2 PER, 0.03 BPM, 0.09 VORP, 48.5 free throw rate with 68.8% FT%

Returning players:

Sydnei Archie, 5’10” junior guard – 34 G, 34 starts, 20.9 MPG, 5.7 PPG, shot 40.5% TS%/39.9 eFG% on 20.9% usage, 10.7 PER, -1.25 BPM, 0.39 VORP

Danielle Hammond, 6’4” senior center – 34 G, 0 starts, 19.2 MPG, 8.7 PPG, shot 62.6% TS%/58.7 eFG% on 23.2% usage, 27.0 PER, 6.73 BPM, 4.18 VORP, 8.71 BLK%, 12.84 ORB%, 73.7 free throw rate with 65.9% FT%

Madison Hattix-Covington, 5’10” redshirt sophomore guard – 34 G, 3 starts, 19.4 MPG, 3.8 PPG, shot 46.9% TS%/41.8 eFG% on 13.2% usage, 11.0 PER, 2.23 BPM, 2.05 VORP

Kseniya Malashka, 6’0” sophomore forward – 34 G, 0 starts, 16.2 MPG, 5.7 PPG, shot 47.3% TS%/44.4 eFG% on 26.3% usage, 16.4 PER, 4.36 BPM, 2.57 VORP, 7.58 BLK%, 3.07 STL%

Sofya Pashigoreva, 5’6” junior center – 34 G, 34 starts, 17.0 MPG, 4.1 PPG, shot 44.5% TS%/40.9 eFG% on 18.7% usage, 12.7 PER, 0.60 BPM, 1.10 VORP, 12.22 ORB%, 41.7 free throw rate with 56.4% FT%

Olga Petrova, 5’8” junior guard – 26 G, 0 starts, 14.6 MPG, 5.3 PPG, shot 52.7% TS%/51.2 eFG% on 22.6% usage, 15.1 PER, 2.23 BPM, 0.90 VORP, 56.3 three point rate with 40.8% 3PT%

Tera Reed, 6’0” junior guard – 31 G, 31 starts, 28.5 MPG, 12.5 PPG, shot 55.4% TS%/46.8 eFG% on 25.4% usage, 21.9 PER, 4.62 BPM, 3.91 VORP, 57.1 free throw rate with 78.8% FT%

Taya Robinson, 5’10” junior guard – 34 G, 34 starts, 28.9 MPG, 9.9 PPG, shot 48.7% TS%/43.5 eFG% on 21.4% usage, 18.7 PER, 5.43 BPM, 5.36 VORP

Nyra Williams, 5’5” senior guard – 34 G, 34 starts, 29.0 MPG, 3.9 PPG, shot 48.9% TS%/42.1 eFG% on 10.8% usage, 10.1 PER, 2.53 BPM, 3.28 VORP, 63.6 free throw rate with 64.7% FT%

Additions:

Janika Griffith-Wallace, 5’9” junior guard – transferred from Murray State; will likely miss ’19-’20; in ’18-’19: 29 G, 20 starts, 29.0 MPG, 11.7 PPG, shot 47.0% TS%/43.2 eFG% on 25.6% usage, 15.3 PER, -1.09 BPM, 0.48 VORP

Freshmen: none

#2 Massachusetts Minutewomen

2018-19 record: 16-16, 7-9 Atlantic 10, tied for 8th place

Postseason: none

Head coach: Tory Verdi

Career record: 114-121, eight seasons (previous schools: Columbia, Eastern Michigan)

Record at Massachusetts: 39-53, three seasons

Imagine a team that finished near the midpoint of Division I in both offensive and defensive rating, and you probably imagine a .500 team. That’s exactly what the Minutewomen were in 2018-2019.

UMass loses two of their key starters from last season, with three point specialist Jessica George and center Anil Burcu Soysal exiting. They lose bench wing Genesis Rivera and swing starter Asia McCoy to graduation and transfer, respectively.

UMass returns a lot of talent from last years. Among their returning players is star point guard Destiney Philoxy, who showed good vision and the ability to score at a high rate despite handling a huge part of the offense. Being able to accomplish all of that just as a freshman was extremely impressive. Also returning is wing Hailey Leidel, who is a confident downtown shooter who can score efficiently.

UMass is in a position to contend for the A-10 crown with all of their returning talent. If that leads to defensive gelling and improve offensive output, they could walk away with a NCAA bid this year.

Losses:

Graduated: Jessica George, 5’10” guard – 32 G, 32 starts, 32.4 MPG, 8.5 PPG, shot 47.3% TS%/45.6 eFG% on 16.9% usage, 11.4 PER, 0.26 BPM, 1.61 VORP, 55.9 three point rate with 35.8% 3PT%; Genesis Rivera, 5’11” wing – 30 G, 5 starts, 14.2 MPG, 4.3 PPG, shot 51.3% TS%/50.4 eFG% on 18.9% usage, 15.8 PER, 0.73 BPM, 0.75 VORP, 20.5 DRB%, 60.8 three point rate with 34.2% 3PT%

Transferred: Asia McCoy, 5’10” sophomore guard – transferred to South Plains College (junior college); 26 G, 16 starts, 22.1 MPG, 4.7 PPG, shot 45.7% TS%/39.4 eFG% on 14.0% usage, 10.9 PER, -2.00 BPM, 0.00 VORP

Anil Burcu Soysal, 6’5” redshirt sophomore center – transferred to UTRGV; 32 G, 31 starts, 19.3 MPG, 4.6 PPG, shot 56.1% TS%/53.8 eFG% on 15.2% usage, 10.7 PER, -2.69 BPM, -0.30 VORP

Returning players:

Bre Hampton-Bey, 5’6” junior guard – 31 G, 22 starts, 24.7 MPG, 8.3 PPG, shot 45.2% TS%/40.5 eFG% on 24.7% usage, 15.6 PER, 0.63 BPM, 1.34 VORP, 3.31 STL%, 41.9 free throw rate with 62.4% FT%

Hailey Leidel, 5’11” senior wing – 32 G, 31 starts, 33.3 MPG, 13.2 PPG, shot 51.9% TS%/46.4 eFG% on 22.9% usage, 22.0 PER, 5.14 BPM, 5.22 VORP, 54.6 three point rate with 33.0% 3PT%

Paige McCormick, 5’11” junior guard – 20 G, 2 starts, 10.3 MPG, 2.8 PPG, shot 41.3% TS%/38.1 eFG% on 20.3% usage, 10.7 PER, -2.87 BPM, -0.08 VORP, 61.9 three point rate with 25.6% 3PT%

Jessica Nelson, 6’2” sophomore forward – 30 G, 1 starts, 19.6 MPG, 4.2 PPG, shot 48.7% TS%/46.2 eFG% on 13.4% usage, 12.1 PER, -0.84 BPM, 0.44 VORP

Vashnie Perry, 5’6” senior guard – 28 G, 15 starts, 18.6 MPG, 6.0 PPG, shot 42.6% TS%/39.9 eFG% on 22.5% usage, 12.4 PER, -2.22 BPM, -0.07 VORP

Destiney Philoxy, 5’7” sophomore guard – 29 G, 5 starts, 21.8 MPG, 10.8 PPG, shot 55.4% TS%/50.4 eFG% on 28.1% usage, 26.8 PER, 5.04 BPM, 2.78 VORP, 35.66 AST% with 18.8% TO%, 3.63 STL%, 49.8 free throw rate with 68.7% FT%

Additions:

Sam Breen, 6’1” junior forward – transferred midseason from Penn State; will miss part of ’19-’20; 4 G, 0 starts, 10.5 MPG, 3.0 PPG, shot 47.0% TS%/45.5 eFG% on 19.3% usage, 14.8 PER, -1.74 BPM, 0.00 VORP, 21.3 DRB%

Desiree Oliver, 5’7” junior guard – transferred from Temple; will miss ’19-’20; in ’18-‘19 19 G, 6 starts, 20.2 MPG, 5.5 PPG, shot 37.6% TS%/35.2 eFG% on 21.9% usage, 9.4 PER, -3.11 BPM, -0.17 VORP

Maddie Sims, 6’2” senior forward – transferred from Siena; will miss ’19-’20; in ’18-’19, 30 G, 28 starts, 34.1 MPG, 12.1 PPG, shot 47.5% TS%/46.6 eFG% on 23.6% usage, 18.1 PER, 0.77 BPM, 1.81 VORP, 20.4 DRB%, 43.2 free throw rate with 46.0% FT%

Freshmen: Maeve Donnelly, 6’5” post, Susquehanna Valley, Binghamton, NY – won Class B All-State First Team honors

Grace Heeps, 5’11” guard, Northfield Mount Hernon, East Greenbush, NY – NEPSAC Class A All-Star

Angelique Ngalakulondi, 6’2” forward, Proctor academy, Manchester, NH – won 2018 New Hampshire Gatorade Player of the Year

Sydney Taylor, 5’9” guard, St. Anthony’s HS, Huntington Station, NY – won CHSAA Championships in first three seasons

#3 George Mason Patriots

2018-19 record: 16-14, 8-8 Atlantic 10, seventh place

Postseason: none

Head coach: Nyla Milleson

Career record: 376-223, 19 seasons (previous schools: Missouri State, Drury)

Record at George Mason: 86-100, six seasons

After breaking a 17 year streak without making the postseason in ’17-‘18, the Patriots fell back to earth, finishing in the middle of the pack. They didn’t stand out on either side of the ball. While some aspects of this team looked promising – an ability to get to the free throw line and grab offensive boards should help a team do better offensively – the results just weren’t there.

They lose two seniors to graduation, but they only combined to play 19.8 MPG. Returning seven key players, including Conference Player of the Year candidate Jacy Bolton, is a promising sign. They also add one of the few ranked recruits for the A-10 in three-star forward recruit Tamia Lawhorne.

I’m optimistic about the talent levels with this team and I think they could contend for the conference championship this year. It should be closer to the ’17-’18 season than last year’s results.

Losses:

Graduated: Casey Davis, 6’2” redshirt senior forward – 16 G, 5 starts, 8.3 MPG, 1.5 PPG, shot 53.0% TS%/50.0 eFG% on 12.1% usage, 13.3 PER, 0.42 BPM, 0.11 VORP, 5.63 BLK%, 10.50 ORB%; Jewel Triggs, 5’11” guard – 30 G, 0 starts, 11.5 MPG, 2.0 PPG, shot 47.5% TS%/43.3 eFG% on 11.0% usage, 14.1 PER, -0.41 BPM, 0.35 VORP, 11.71 ORB%, 86.7 free throw rate with 51.3% FT%

Returning players:

Jacy Bolton, 6’0” senior wing – 30 G, 30 starts, 36.3 MPG, 10.5 PPG, shot 55.0% TS%/50.4 eFG% on 15.6% usage, 20.6 PER, 6.30 BPM, 5.80 VORP, 20.4 DRB%

Nicole Cardano-Hillary, 5’7” junior guard – 30 G, 30 starts, 35.8 MPG, 20.4 PPG, shot 46.7% TS%/40.7 eFG% on 35.9% usage, 21.3 PER, 1.62 BPM, 2.49 VORP, 3.51 STL%

Camarie Gatling, 6’0” junior forward – 30 G, 25 starts, 22.0 MPG, 8.7 PPG, shot 54.9% TS%/55.4 eFG% on 21.8% usage, 20.3 PER, 2.41 BPM, 1.87 VORP, 10.50 ORB%

Alexsis Grate, 5’6” senior guard – 30 G, 12 starts, 19.3 MPG, 4.6 PPG, shot 45.5% TS%/35.5 eFG% on 18.3% usage, 8.7 PER, -3.32 BPM, -0.49 VORP, 65.0 free throw rate with 71.1% FT%

Sarah Kaminski, 5’9” senior guard – 30 G, 20 starts, 25.6 MPG, 7.7 PPG, shot 50.6% TS%/48.6 eFG% on 17.1% usage, 13.9 PER, 2.15 BPM, 2.04 VORP, 81.2 three point rate with 31.6% 3PT%

Marika Korpinen, 5’9” junior guard – 30 G, 25 starts, 25.4 MPG, 5.1 PPG, shot 38.8% TS%/37.6 eFG% on 15.1% usage, 8.4 PER, -1.23 BPM, 0.38 VORP

Allie McCool, 6’2” senior forward – 30 G, 3 starts, 14.2 MPG, 3.8 PPG, shot 52.5% TS%/49.5 eFG% on 14.8% usage, 14.8 PER, -1.72 BPM, 0.08 VORP

Additions

Freshmen: Rachel Balzer, 5’10” guard, Germantown Academy, Doylestown, PA

Jazmyn Doster, 6’2” center, Lake Taylor HS, Norfolk, VA – won Class 4 State Championship, First Team Class 4 All-State

Tamia Lawhorne, 6’0” forward, Long Island Lutheran HS, Amityville, NY – ESPN HoopGurlz three-star recruit; All-Conference selection

Rosie Schweizer, 6’0” redshirt freshman, Canberra Girls Summer School, Canberra, Australia – three-time high school U19 Division I team MVP

Vita Stam, 6’3” freshman, Calandlyceum, Blithoven, Netherlands – member of U16 & U18 Netherlands National Team

Jordan Wakefield, 6’0” guard, John Carroll HS, Abingdon, MD – first team All-IAAM honoree

#4 Fordham Rams

2018-19 record: 25-8, 13-3 Atlantic 10, first place

Postseason: NCAA #14 seed, first round loss to #3 Syracuse, 70-49

Head coach: Stephanie Gaitley

Career record: 633-364, 33 seasons (previous schools: Richmond, Saint Joseph’s, LIU Brooklyn, Monmouth)

Record at Fordham: 169-95, eight seasons

Gaitley continued to be a revelation as Fordham’s coach, taking them to the NCAA tournament last season for their sixth postseason berth in the last eight years.

Fordham loses two starters to graduation this year. Lauren Holden was a decent three point gunner in a small offensive role and recorded the most minutes per game. More notably, Mary Goulding was one of the best players in the conference and helped them improve on both ends of the court. Goulding finished the season with the third best effective field goal percentage last year. The Rams had a slight improvement on the defensive rating by a tenth of a point, but increased their offensive output by 2.4 points per 100 possessions.

Bre Cavanaugh is their best returning player, with a solid scoring efficiency on a huge usage percentage and the second highest scoring average in the A-10 last year. Her Player Efficiency Rating was the seventh best in the A-10. She also finished second in the conference in minutes per game. Also returning is Kaitlyn Downey, who was a top 20 player in the Atlantic 10 in scoring efficiency. If she is able to maintain that efficiency while taking a bigger role in the offense, she could be one of the most improved players in the league. Kendell Heremaia also returns. She was a strong defensive rebounder and a valuable three point shooter for this team.

Fordham does lose two key players, but maintain a strong set of players and add depth with grad transfer Isis Young. I think Fordham will be able to hit at least 20 wins this year.

Losses:

Graduated: Mary Goulding, 6’0” forward – 33 G, 33 starts, 35.6 MPG, 12.8 PPG, shot 55.9% TS%/53.9 eFG% on 20.8% usage, 25.3 PER, 8.44 BPM, 8.73 VORP, 11.04 ORB%; Lauren Holden, 5’5” guard – 34 G, 34 starts, 38.6 MPG, 9.0 PPG, shot 46.8% TS%/42.4 eFG% on 16.4% usage, 9.5 PER, -0.34 BPM, 1.60 VORP, 61.6 three point rate with 31.2% 3PT%

Returning players:

Bre Cavanaugh, 5’8” redshirt junior guard – 34 G, 34 starts, 38.1 MPG, 17.1 PPG, shot 48.3% TS%/43.2 eFG% on 28.1% usage, 22.8 PER, 3.98 BPM, 5.68 VORP

Kaitlyn Downey, 6’1” sophomore forward – 34 G, 29 starts, 20.6 MPG, 6.3 PPG, shot 50.8% TS%/48.2 eFG% on 18.7% usage, 18.3 PER, 2.94 BPM, 2.54 VORP, 54.6 three point rate with 31.1% 3PT%

Kendell Heremaia, 5’9” junior guard – 34 G, 33 starts, 28.5 MPG, 8.1 PPG, shot 48.3% TS%/47.3 eFG% on 21.5% usage, 13.9 PER, 1.81 BPM, 2.70 VORP, 52.0 three point rate with 35.2% 3PT%

Zara Jillings, 5’11” junior guard – 34 G, 4 starts, 18.9 MPG, 3.2 PPG, shot 52.2% TS%/51.5 eFG% on 11.6% usage, 13.2 PER, 1.60 BPM, 1.70 VORP

Megan Jonassen, 6’0” sophomore forward – 33 G, 3 starts, 13.6 MPG, 2.7 PPG, shot 42.7% TS%/42.9 eFG% on 14.1% usage, 14.5 PER, 0.27 BPM, 0.72 VORP, 13.96 ORB%

Additions:

Transfer: Isis Young, 5’7” graduate student guard – transferred from Louisville; 28 G, 0 starts, 7.8 MPG, 2.2 PPG, shot 40.4% TS%/38.7 eFG% on 16.8% usage, 10.9 PER, -1.21 BPM, 0.10 VORP, 81.3 three point rate with 26.2% 3PT%

Freshmen: Anna DeWolfe, 5’8” guard, Greely HS, Cumberland, Maine – four-time All-State honoree, Miss Maine nominee as junior & senior

Eden Johnson, 6’1” forward, Huron HS, Ann Arbor, MI – conference MVP as junior

Sarah Karpell, 5’7” guard, Saint John Vianney, Holmdel, NJ – selected to USJN Nationals All-Tournament Team

#5 Saint Louis Billikens

2018-19 record: 15-16, 9-7 Atlantic 10, sixth place

Postseason: none

Head coach: Lisa Stone

Career record: 623-336, 33 seasons (previous schools: Cornell College, Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Drake, Wisconsin)

Record at Saint Louis: 120-99, seven seasons

Although they barely did fall under .500, they did for the first time since 2014-15, when they also finished 15-16 overall. In 2015-16, they improved to 26-8 and made the first of three straight WNIT trips.

They do lose two regular starters in Jordyn Frantz and Kerri McMahan, who were both solid contributors. The other three high profile exits from the program included two players who occasionally started for them (Amber Lindfors & Evan Zars) and one who usually got a solid number of minutes as a backup (Tasia Jeffries).

Their returning players is highlighted by sophomores Ciaja Harbison and Brooke Flowers. Flowers was a great rebounder and shot blocker, while Harbison created well for her teammates. They hold the promise of being one of the best inside outside combinations in women’s hoops the next three years.

The defense was interesting in that they did great as a group in limiting shot making by their opponents, but they were one of the very worst teams at forcing turnovers. Saint Louis also focused almost exclusively on grabbing defensive rebounds rather than working the offensive glass. As a result, they greatly limited their opponents’ second chances on offense but didn’t have very many of their own to exploit.

Much like ’15-’16, I think the Billikens will have a bounceback season. I think they’ll be among the second tier of teams in the A-10, with a (very) outside chance at winning the conference crown.

Losses:

Graduated: Jordyn Frantz, 6’0” guard – 31 G, 30 starts, 35.9 MPG, 14.1 PPG, shot 51.1% TS%/47.4 eFG% on 23.3% usage, 16.9 PER, 2.80 BPM, 3.52 VORP, 59.1 three point rate with 34.3% 3PT%; Amber Lindfors, 6’4” redshirt senior center – 18 G, 7 starts, 10.2 MPG, 2.9 PPG, shot 45.2% TS%/44.7 eFG% on 18.3% usage, 18.8 PER, 1.60 BPM, 0.25 VORP, 9.04 BLK%, 51.1 free throw rate with 41.7% FT%; Kerri McMahan, 5’10” redshirt senior guard – 31 G, 31 starts, 33.4 MPG, 7.7 PPG, shot 51.7% TS%/46.8 eFG% on 14.5% usage, 12.7 PER, 1.22 BPM, 2.20 VORP

Transferred: Tasia Jeffries, 5’8” junior guard – transferred to Bellarmine (D-II); 23 G, 0 starts, 10.8 MPG, 3.1 PPG, shot 45.9% TS%/42.1 eFG% on 18.3% usage, 13.7 PER, 0.02 BPM, 0.25 VORP, 67.1 three point rate with 27.7% 3PT%; Evan Zars, 6’2” sophomore forward – transferred to Western Illinois; 30 G, 19 starts, 18.8 MPG, 2.1 PPG, shot 40.7% TS%/37.3 eFG% on 10.8% usage, 5.5 PER, -2.11 BPM, -0.04 VORP, 19.8 DRB%

Returning players:

Myia Clark, 5’7” sophomore  guard – 31 G, 12 starts, 18.6 MPG, 4.5 PPG, shot 47.0% TS%/45.2 eFG% on 16.9% usage, 10.1 PER, -0.75 BPM, 0.48 VORP, 50.4 three point rate with 35.3% 3PT%

Brooke Flowers, 6’5” sophomore  post – 31 G, 20 starts, 23.7 MPG, 8.0 PPG, shot 43.9% TS%/42.9 eFG% on 23.0% usage, 21.3 PER, 0.56 BPM, 1.24 VORP, 9.06 BLK%, 24.7 DRB%, 13.29 ORB%

Ciaja Harbison, 5’6” sophomore  guard – 31 G, 31 starts, 36.4 MPG, 14.6 PPG, shot 50.3% TS%/43.2 eFG% on 26.6% usage, 19.0 PER, 1.64 BPM, 2.71 VORP, 30.42 AST% with 21.7% TO%

Chloe Rice, 5’11” sophomore guard – 31 G, 1 starts, 12.2 MPG, 2.7 PPG, shot 46.4% TS%/43.4 eFG% on 15.9% usage, 5.5 PER, -3.04 BPM, -0.26 VORP, 73.5 three point rate with 29.5% 3PT%

Kendra Wilken, 6’2” senior forward – 26 G, 4 starts, 11.8 MPG, 5.1 PPG, shot 53.2% TS%/47.4 eFG% on 24.8% usage, 22.6 PER, -1.04 BPM, 0.16 VORP, 12.19 ORB%, 68.8 free throw rate with 63.6% FT%

Additions:

Hannah Dossett, 5’6” graduate student guard – transferred from Syracuse; will be first season of collegiate basketball

Victoria Mikkelsen, 6’1” junior forward – transferred from Independence CC in Kansas; averaged 7.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG

Myriama Smith Traore, 6’2” sophomore forward – transferred from Marquette; missed ’18-’19, in ’17-’18, 11 G, 0 starts, 7.6 MPG, 1.7 PPG, shot 52.2% TS% on 12.2% USG%, 11.2 PER; led team with 4.58% BLK%

Jaidah Stewart, 5’9” sophomore guard – midseason transfer from Houston; played one game before transfer; will be eligible for spring semester of ’19-‘20

Freshmen: Lia Enos, 5’10” wing, Tuscaloosa Academy, Miami, FL – missed senior year due to injury;

Rachel Kent, 5’11” wing, Maine West HS, Des Plaines, IL – ESPN HoopGurlz three-star recruit; four-time selection to IBCA All-State team

Julia Martinez, 5’10” guard, Loyola Academy, Chicago, IL – three-time IBCA All-State selection

#6 Richmond Spiders

2018-19 record: 9-21, 6-10 Atlantic 10, 11th place

Postseason: none

Head coach: Aaron Roussell

Career record: 312-122, 15 seasons (previous schools: Chicago, Bucknell)

Record at Richmond: first season

The Spiders will head into ’19-’20 with a new head coach. Michael Shafer was removed after 14 seasons at the helm for Richmond. He was the second-longest tenured coach in school history.

This team was a mess on offense, with shooting efficiency percentages that placed them among the bottom 20 nationally. They also didn’t get to the free throw line and didn’t get offensive rebounds. They struggled defensively, as well, and played at a very slow place. I can’t imagine fans were enthralled with the on-court product.

Richmond is fortunate in that they only lose one key player from last year’s team in Daijia Ruffin.

Their best player from last year, Jaide Hinds-Clarke, only started 26 of her 30 games, and played just 737 minutes on a slow paced team. She was the only player on the team that finished with a positive BPM. If the Spiders are going to improve in 2019-2020, they’ll need to lean heavily on her.

The addition of Kaila Clark (a rare transfer from a service academy) is big news for Richmond. If she is able to play at the same level she did as a Midshipmen, she’ll really help this team rise up the ranks.

Hinds-Clarke has the potential to be good enough to make Richmond contend as high as fourth in the A-10, but they need to really improve their depth from last year to achieve this. Barring one of the best improvements this year, I don’t think they’ll contend for the conference title.

Losses:

Graduated: Daijia Ruffin, 5’9” graduate student guard – 27 G, 10 starts, 21.9 MPG, 7.0 PPG, shot 44.2% TS%/38.7 eFG% on 23.0% usage, 13.5 PER, -3.02 BPM, -0.35 VORP, 47.5 free throw rate with 61.9% FT%

Returning players:

Aniyah Carpenter, 5’8” sophomore guard – 30 G, 10 starts, 19.0 MPG, 5.2 PPG, shot 39.2% TS%/37.2 eFG% on 21.8% usage, 7.1 PER, -6.84 BPM, -1.79 VORP

Amy Duggan, 6’0” senior forward – 29 G, 24 starts, 25.8 MPG, 3.7 PPG, shot 41.0% TS%/37.4 eFG% on 11.2% usage, 11.2 PER, -0.96 BPM, 0.49 VORP

Jayana Ervin, 5’8” senior guard – 21 G, 5 starts, 14.0 MPG, 3.2 PPG, shot 42.1% TS%/40.3 eFG% on 19.3% usage, 9.5 PER, -5.54 BPM, -0.47 VORP, 3.82 STL%

Kailyn Fee, 5’6” junior guard – 20 G, 4 starts, 14.3 MPG, 3.5 PPG, shot 35.6% TS%/33.3 eFG% on 20.8% usage, 4.3 PER, -7.86 BPM, -0.73 VORP, 78.5 three point rate with 21.9% 3PT%

Jaide Hinds-Clarke, 6’1” senior forward – 30 G, 26 starts, 24.6 MPG, 10.2 PPG, shot 44.4% TS%/41.0 eFG% on 27.6% usage, 23.4 PER, 0.71 BPM, 1.30 VORP, 23.2 DRB%, 11.80 ORB%, 3.86 STL%, 41.0 free throw rate with 55.8% FT%

Claire Holt, 5’6” sophomore guard – 25 G, 9 starts, 16.8 MPG, 5.2 PPG, shot 45.6% TS%/41.6 eFG% on 21.5% usage, 11.3 PER, -4.83 BPM, -0.64 VORP, 55.7 three point rate with 28.8% 3PT%

Molly Mraz, 5’8” sophomore guard – 30 G, 23 starts, 17.5 MPG, 2.1 PPG, shot 35.2% TS%/33.1 eFG% on 11.5% usage, 1.7 PER, -7.42 BPM, -1.85 VORP, 79.1 three point rate with 25.0% 3PT%

Madelyn Neff, 6’1” sophomore forward – 19 G, 1 starts, 12.2 MPG, 2.2 PPG, shot 40.1% TS%/36.5 eFG% on 14.3% usage, 9.3 PER, -5.02 BPM, -0.29 VORP

Alex Parson, 5’6” junior guard – 30 G, 30 starts, 31.3 MPG, 10.2 PPG, shot 41.5% TS%/38.9 eFG% on 24.7% usage, 10.8 PER, -3.22 BPM, -0.75 VORP

Emma Squires, 6’2” sophomore forward – 17 G, 5 starts, 19.0 MPG, 5.0 PPG, shot 39.5% TS%/36.6 eFG% on 21.3% usage, 6.7 PER, -5.46 BPM, -0.41 VORP, 55.4 three point rate with 21.4% 3PT%

Additions:

Kaila Clark, 5’11” junior forward – transferred from Navy; missed ’18-’19; in ’17-’18, 33 G, 33 starts, 25.5 MPG, 7.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.61 SPG, 2.09 BPG, shot 45.4% TS% on 19.0% USG%, 23.2 PER, 12.59 BPM, 8.76 VORP

Kate Klimkiewicz, 6’0” sophomore guard – transferred from Boston College; in ’18-’19: 13 G, 0 starts, 3.3 MPG, 0.9 PPG, shot 43.2% TS%/42.3 eFG% on 14.5% usage, 15.5 PER, 1.94 BPM, 0.05 VORP, 76.9 three point rate with 30.0% 3PT%; will likely miss ’19-‘20

Freshmen: Angel Burgos, 5’8” guard, Trinity Episcopal, Richmond, VA – second-team All-Metro selection in ’18-’19, second-team VISAA All-State in ’17-‘18

Elaina Chapman, 6’3” forward, Trinity Episcopal, Richmond, VA – ESPN HoopGurlz top 100 prospect, four-star recruit; was named Richmond Times-Dispatch Player of the Year

Cecil Satter, 6’0” forward, Loyola Academy, Glencoe, IL – won MVP for team Illinois in Missouri vs. Illinois All-Star game; IBCA Class 4A Third-Team All-State selection

#7 Davidson Wildcats

2018-19 record: 17-15, 10-6 Atlantic 10 (tied for fourth)

Postseason: WBI first round loss to Marshall, 67-64

Head coach: Gayle Coats Fulks

Career record: 29-43, two seasons

Record at Davidson: same

Davidson improved by five wins from 2017-18. This improvement was largely fueled by an improved offensive performance, which moved them from 256th nationally to 173rd. The Wildcats’ best victory came against the 25-win Fordham squad on the road. The North Carolina squad ended their season with their first trip to the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals before falling to Dayton. That was Davidson’s sixth loss to Dayton in as many meetings.

With a bid to the WBI, Davidson made its first trip to the postseason since 2013’s WNIT trip.

In last year’s preview, I raised questions about who would carry the offensive load for the Wildcats. Among the starters, a lot of that portion of the team’s responsibilities was sophomore wing Sarah Donovan. Donovan was not just an elite rebounder, but also a strong interior scorer for the Wildcats. She finished the year second on the team in PER and first in VORP.

The 2017 A-10’s Most Improved Player, senior Justine Lyon handled an outsized offensive role coming off the bench for Davidson. Despite just one start, Lyon was the leading scorer on the team at 13.1 PPG. Her graduation will hurt the team. They also lose Kianna Speight, who was a very good offensive contributor on a team that needed it. She shot 33.6% from deep while scoring 10.0 PPG.

Key losses:

Graduated: Justine Lyon, 5’9” guard – 31 G, 2 starts, 25.2 MPG, 13.1 PPG, shot 48.4% TS%/44.4 eFG% on 29.0% usage, 24.4 PER, 4.61 BPM, 3.44 VORP, 3.44 STL%; Kyla Roland, 6’2” forward – 31 G, 1 starts, 13.5 MPG, 0.9 PPG, shot 25.5% TS%/21.6 eFG% on 10.7% usage, 5.1 PER, -0.55 BPM, 0.41 VORP, 22.1 DRB%; Kianna Speight, 5’8” guard – 32 G, 32 starts, 27.8 MPG, 10.0 PPG, shot 50.3% TS%/47.3 eFG% on 19.8% usage, 15.5 PER, 3.65 BPM, 3.46 VORP, 3.14 STL%, 72.5 three point rate with 33.6% 3PT%

Key returning players:

Sarah Donovan, 6’0″ junior wing – 32 G, 32 starts, 32.5 MPG, 12.9 PPG, shot 47.5% TS%/45.1 eFG% on 23.0% usage, 21.5 PER, 4.39 BPM, 4.57 VORP, 11.34 ORB%

Kelly Fitzgerald, 5’6” junior guard – 29 G, 0 starts, 10.3 MPG, 3.2 PPG, shot 45.3% TS%/43.8 eFG% on 22.2% usage, 7.1 PER, -5.73 BPM, -0.70 VORP

Cassidy Gould, 5’9” sophomore guard – 32 G, 31 starts, 26.7 MPG, 7.9 PPG, shot 56.1% TS%/51.8 eFG% on 17.9% usage, 12.4 PER, 0.61 BPM, 1.53 VORP

Katie Turner, 5’7” junior guard – 32 G, 32 starts, 34.4 MPG, 12.2 PPG, shot 50.0% TS%/44.7 eFG% on 19.7% usage, 17.5 PER, 3.04 BPM, 3.82 VORP, 56.5 three point rate with 29.6% 3PT%

Chloe Welch, 5’9” sophomore guard – 28 G, 0 starts, 8.1 MPG, 1.3 PPG, shot 30.0% TS%/28.3 eFG% on 15.4% usage, 6.2 PER, -3.05 BPM, -0.14 VORP

Ally Welling, 6’3” senior forward – 32 G, 30 starts, 24.8 MPG, 5.3 PPG, shot 39.7% TS%/37.3 eFG% on 14.7% usage, 9.8 PER, -1.87 BPM, 0.07 VORP

Additions

Freshmen: Peyton Carter, 6’1” forward, Nease HS, St. Augustine, FL; also competed in golf and track in high school; was second team All First-Coast selection as junior

Suzi-Rose Deegan, 5’10” guard, Sacred Heart College/Lake Ginninderra Collee, Marmion, Australia; also competed in Australian Rules Football and cross country; three-time MVP of Western Australia; won bronze as part of Australian 3×3 Youth Olympics team in 2018; holds school’s record in 400, 800, and 1500 meters

Adelaide Fuller, 6’3” forward, All Hallow’s School, Brisbane, Australia; was MVP of Brisbane Capitals in ’17-‘18

Sarah Konstans, 5’10”  redshirt freshman wing, Trinity Christian, Dallas, TX; missed ’18-’19 due to injury; was nominee for 2018 McDonald’s All-Americans; holds school record for scoring; scored 41 points in one game

Cameron Tabor, 5’9” guard, New Castle (IN) HS; set school record for most points in a game with 45

#8 Dayton Flyers

2018-19 record: 17-14, 10-6 Atlantic 10 (tied for fourth)

Postseason: WNIT first round loss to Northwestern, 74-51

Head coach: Shauna Green

Career record: 91-56, four seasons (previous school: Loras)

Record at Dayton: 62-31, three seasons

Dayton fell off of last year’s record by six wins. They actually improved their defensive performance, going from 61st to 26th in defensive rating, but their offensive rating plummeted from 36th to 200th. They weren’t able to replace the output of Jenna Burdette and Javonna Layfield. After consecutive trips to the NCAAs, Dayton had to settle for a WNIT berth. Going 2-5 to start the season gave them a hole to dig out of, and only going 2-6 on the road in conference helped ensure they couldn’t overcome that.

Dayton largely returns most of their team, with Lauren Cannatelli as the only starter lost. She was their second leading scorer and easily their most efficient scorer with a 57.4% TS%. Brittany Ward was second on the team in that statistic at 50.8%.

Dayton is reloading with a strong recruiting class with a trio of four-star prospects, which should rank among the best in the A-10.

I’m concerned that they may have further drops in their offensive rating, or at least will fail to significantly improve. With as much returning experience as they have, their defensive rating should remain strong. A defense first team can have success, of course, but it seems unlikely that Dayton will be able to be one of the best teams from the mid-majors unless they get the ball in the basket a lot better than last year.

Key losses:

Graduated: Lauren Cannatelli, 5’8” guard – 31 G, 31 starts, 32.6 MPG, 13.0 PPG, shot 57.4% TS%/47.8 eFG% on 19.9% usage, 18.3 PER, 4.67 BPM, 4.43 VORP, 47.8 free throw rate with 90.6% FT%, 62.2 three point rate with 35.4% 3PT%; Maddy Dennis, 6’2” forward – 30 G, 11 starts, 16.4 MPG, 3.6 PPG, shot 44.5% TS%/40.9 eFG% on 14.8% usage, 10.5 PER, 0.97 BPM, 0.93 VORP, 21.5 DRB%; Tiaera Phillips, 5’11’ guard – 28 G, 2 starts, 11.2 MPG, 1.4 PPG, shot 42.3% TS%/43.1 eFG% on 10.3% usage, 10.0 PER, 2.50 BPM, 0.83 VORP, 63.9 free throw rate with 34.8% FT%

Key returning players:

Araion Bradshaw, 5’6” redshirt junior guard – 31 G, 31 starts, 23.6 MPG, 5.4 PPG, shot 47.7% TS%/40.1 eFG% on 16.1% usage, 13.2 PER, 3.05 BPM, 2.43 VORP, 52.8 free throw rate with 70.7% FT%

Julia Chandler, 6’2” redshirt senior forward – 31 G, 17 starts, 15.2 MPG, 5.7 PPG, shot 46.7% TS%/45.8 eFG% on 24.3% usage, 14.1 PER, -0.75 BPM, 0.39 VORP, 10.73 ORB%

Shakeela Fowler, 5’6” redshirt senior guard – 28 G, 0 starts, 22.0 MPG, 8.5 PPG, shot 43.0% TS%/38.4 eFG% on 25.7% usage, 16.0 PER, 1.85 BPM, 1.41 VORP

Jenna Giacone, 6’1” senior guard – 29 G, 0 starts, 9.8 MPG, 3.1 PPG, shot 43.7% TS%/41.9 eFG% on 20.9% usage, 14.6 PER, 3.44 BPM, 0.94 VORP, 3.02 STL%, 57.6 three point rate with 29.8% 3PT%

Jayla Scaife, 5’10” senior guard – 30 G, 30 starts, 32.5 MPG, 15.7 PPG, shot 47.0% TS%/43.2 eFG% on 28.5% usage, 21.5 PER, 4.75 BPM, 4.17 VORP

Brittany Ward, 6’1” redshirt senior guard – 31 G, 19 starts, 14.0 MPG, 4.1 PPG, shot 50.8% TS%/46.8 eFG% on 18.1% usage, 13.8 PER, 0.82 BPM, 0.80 VORP

Kyla Whitehead, 6’2” sophomore forward – 31 G, 3 starts, 18.5 MPG, 3.5 PPG, shot 47.8% TS%/43.5 eFG% on 13.4% usage, 10.1 PER, 0.75 BPM, 1.03 VORP, 53.8 free throw rate with 58.0% FT%

Jordan Wilmoth, 6’3” senior forward – 28 G, 10 starts, 10.4 MPG, 1.7 PPG, shot 33.7% TS%/31.3 eFG% on 15.5% usage, 3.5 PER, -2.32 BPM, -0.06 VORP

Additions

Freshmen: Destiny Bohanon, 5’10” guard, Wayne HS, Huber Heights, OH – four-star recruit (Prospects Nation); was named to Kentucky/Ohio All-Star team and GWOC National East Player of the Year

Mariah Perez, 6’3” forward, Newark Tech, NJ – four-star recruit (Prospects Nation); set school record for rebounds on the women’s side and double-doubles amongst both men & women; two-time sectional champion

Nadjy Tyler, 6’3” forward, Imhotep Charter, Philadelphia – four-star recruit (Prospects Nation); averaged 10.1 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 2.2 BPG

#9 George Washington Colonials

2018-19 record: 10-20, 7-9 Atlantic 10, tied for eighth place

Postseason: none

Head coach: Jennifer Rizzotti

Career record: 365-260, 20 seasons (previous school: Hartford)

Record at George Mason: 49-44, three seasons

After five straight seasons where the Colonials didn’t finish with less than 19 wins, GW finished with a losing record. Rizzotti’s squad managed to improve defensively by more than 2 points per 100 possessions, but their offensive output plummeted from 92.2 points per 100 possessions to 78.6.

The offensive drop off can largely be attributed to their team’s shooting percentage falling from below average to horrid. They also went from being elite at avoiding turnovers to about average.

Rizzotti’s squad will be hit hard again by graduation, with three starters and a key backup exiting. Those losses include their #2 scorer, Mei-Lyn Bautista, who also tops on the team in assists per game.

They do add three players via transfer, in addition to four freshmen. Two of the froshes are coming off of redshirt seasons due to injury, so they hopefully will be better prepared for the coming season. Their additions includes Alexandra Maud, a transfer from Yale who was a solid scorer off their bench last year. Her addition will be badly needed for this team that struggled offensively last year.

I don’t see a full bounceback with this roster. With the exception of the two graduate transfers, they should expect to have everyone return for 2020-2021. With steady improvement and talent, I think they’ll return to contending next year. This is a team that’s a year away.

Losses:

Graduated: Mei-Lyn Bautista, 5’6” guard – 28 G, 28 starts, 36.0 MPG, 9.3 PPG, shot 43.1% TS%/40.0 eFG% on 19.7% usage, 13.7 PER, 1.65 BPM, 2.23 VORP, 28.62 AST% with 17.6% TO%, 3.35 STL%, 59.5 three point rate with 31.3% 3PT%; Kelsi Mahoney, 6’1” forward – 30 G, 30 starts, 29.4 MPG, 8.3 PPG, shot 51.4% TS%/49.1 eFG% on 18.0% usage, 14.3 PER, 2.21 BPM, 2.41 VORP, 77.8 three point rate with 36.0% 3PT%; Anna Savino, 5’7” guard – 29 G, 27 starts, 25.3 MPG, 2.4 PPG, shot 40.7% TS%/39.8 eFG% on 9.2% usage, 4.2 PER, -2.80 BPM, -0.37 VORP, 67.5 three point rate with 32.1% 3PT%

Transferred: Chyna Latimer, 6’0” junior wing – 25 G, 3 starts, 15.6 MPG, 3.5 PPG, shot 36.3% TS%/34.8 eFG% on 21.2% usage, 7.1 PER, -5.40 BPM, -0.72 VORP; transferred to Delaware

Returning players:

Lexus Levy, 5’6” junior guard – 29 G, 0 starts, 11.8 MPG, 2.6 PPG, shot 42.0% TS%/39.9 eFG% on 17.6% usage, 8.2 PER, -3.70 BPM, -0.36 VORP, 70.2 three point rate with 28.8% 3PT%

Maddie Loder, 5’11” sophomore guard – 29 G, 14 starts, 26.4 MPG, 6.0 PPG, shot 38.9% TS%/34.5 eFG% on 19.9% usage, 6.9 PER, -4.38 BPM, -1.15 VORP

Neila Luma, 6’0” junior forward – 30 G, 28 starts, 28.1 MPG, 10.4 PPG, shot 41.9% TS%/39.0 eFG% on 27.7% usage, 14.7 PER, -2.79 BPM, -0.43 VORP, 19.2 DRB%

Kayla Mokwuah, 6’4” sophomore center – 29 G, 6 starts, 14.6 MPG, 6.5 PPG, shot 49.9% TS%/46.7 eFG% on 31.1% usage, 20.2 PER, -0.19 BPM, 0.48 VORP, 6.29 BLK%, 10.13 ORB%

Sarah Overcash, 6’1” redshirt junior forward – 30 G, 12 starts, 14.4 MPG, 2.0 PPG, shot 44.4% TS%/38.9 eFG% on 11.7% usage, 9.5 PER, -2.23 BPM, -0.07 VORP, 10.68 ORB%, 57.4 free throw rate with 58.1% FT%

Additions

Alexandra Maund, 5’11” graduate student forward – transferred from Yale; 26 G, 3 starts, 18.2 MPG, 5.8 PPG, shot 55.1% TS%/51.6 eFG% on 17.0% usage, 17.3 PER, 0.89 BPM, 0.77 VORP

Ariel Stephenson, 5’10” graduate student guard – transferred from Wake Forest; missed ’18-’19 due to shoulder injury; in ’17-’18, 27 G, 22 starts, 27 MPG, 8.9 PPG, shot 40.7% TS% on 24.5% USG%, 7.2 PER, -5.02 BPM, -1.28 VORP

Sydney Zambrotta, 5’9” redshirt sophomore guard – transferred from Louisville; missed ’18-’19; in ’17-’18, 33 G, 1 start, 10.4 MPG, 3.4 PPG; shot 50.7% TS% on 18.5% USG%, 13.0 PER

Freshmen: Faith Blethen, 6’1” forward, Boothbay Region HS, Boothbay, ME – won state championship as senior; Miss Maine finalist

Essence Brown, 5’11” guard, Galax (VA) HS – First-Team All-State as junior & senior; first player from Galax to sign with a Division I program

Tori Hyduke, 5’6” redshirt freshman guard, Rumson-Fair Haven HS, Fair Haven, NJ – four-state Prospects Nation recruit; missed last season due to injury; twice named NJ.com First Team All-State

Mayowa Taiwo, 6’0” redshirt freshman forward, three-star Prospects Nation recruit; Rockbridge Academy, Hanover, MD – missed last season due to injury; scored 1500 points in career

#10 Rhode Island Rams

2018-19 record: 8-21, 3-13 Atlantic 10, tied for 13th place

Postseason: none

Head coach: Tammi Reiss

Career record: first season

Record at Rhode Island: same

Last year I predicted that Rhode Island would “have one of the most dramatic single season turnarounds in record this year.”

I was wrong.

Going from three wins to eight wasn’t enough for Dayna La-Force to keep her job. Along with her exit, the Rams lose two key players to graduation and two more to transfers.

Nicole Jorgensen should be the centerpiece of a better team, and yet here we are. Maybe she’ll step up in her senior year – her junior numbers actually fell off from her sophomore season. I had extremely high hopes for her last year, but the inability to even lead this team to double digit wins was a disappointment. Maybe more blame lies with her supporting cast, and that will be a huge weakness this year. Davida Dale is the only returning regular who had a PER that broke double digits.

They do add three players by transfer, but I don’t think they’ll be eligible this season.

This will be a chaotic situation for Rhode Island, with a new coach and a lot of turnover on the roster. They could put everything together to keep playing past the conference tournament, but right now I don’t think they have the juice to break .500.

Losses:

Graduated: Dina Motrechuk, 6’5” center – 27 G, 1 starts, 10.3 MPG, 2.3 PPG, shot 47.0% TS%/45.0 eFG% on 14.5% usage, 14.4 PER, -0.54 BPM, 0.24 VORP, 13.20 BLK%; Jalissa Ross, 6’2” forward – 27 G, 20 starts, 26.2 MPG, 5.9 PPG, shot 42.4% TS%/38.9 eFG% on 17.7% usage, 7.8 PER, -3.33 BPM, -0.55 VORP

Transferred: Elemy Colome, 5’7” redshirt senior guard – graduate transfer to Syracuse; 29 G, 27 starts, 30.4 MPG, 14.1 PPG, shot 50.4% TS%/45.4 eFG% on 27.1% usage, 18.3 PER, -0.05 BPM, 1.08 VORP, 3.02 STL%; Abby Streeter, 5’11” junior guard – 28 G, 2 starts, 12.0 MPG, 3.1 PPG, shot 50.1% TS%/50.0 eFG% on 14.2% usage, 8.9 PER, -4.13 BPM, -0.43 VORP, 89.4 three point rate with 32.9% 3PT%; transferred to Hartford

Returning players:

Davida Dale, 5’11” redshirt senior guard – 26 G, 17 starts, 29.0 MPG, 10.0 PPG, shot 41.6% TS%/35.3 eFG% on 27.6% usage, 12.3 PER, -1.13 BPM, 0.37 VORP, 3.82 STL%

Erin Jones, 6’1” redshirt junior guard – 24 G, 4 starts, 14.1 MPG, 3.3 PPG, shot 46.8% TS%/44.9 eFG% on 15.0% usage, 9.1 PER, -5.05 BPM, -0.54 VORP, 51.9 three point rate with 22.0% 3PT%

Nicole Jorgensen, 6’5” senior center – 28 G, 27 starts, 24.0 MPG, 13.2 PPG, shot 51.2% TS%/48.8 eFG% on 30.0% usage, 26.5 PER, -2.33 BPM, -0.13 VORP, 6.85 BLK%, 19.5 DRB%, 14.11 ORB%, 43.6 free throw rate with 56.1% FT%

Maia Moffitt, 5’10” junior guard – 29 G, 29 starts, 26.2 MPG, 4.2 PPG, shot 47.3% TS%/44.7 eFG% on 11.8% usage, 9.0 PER, 0.21 BPM, 1.05 VORP, 3.87 STL%

Meghan Oberg, 6’3” redshirt junior forward – 25 G, 3 starts, 13.6 MPG, 2.1 PPG, shot 39.8% TS%/33.3 eFG% on 10.8% usage, 8.7 PER, -3.18 BPM, -0.22 VORP

Marta Vargas, 5’9” junior guard – 28 G, 14 starts, 17.8 MPG, 3.3 PPG, shot 38.0% TS%/35.0 eFG% on 17.9% usage, 1.2 PER, -9.12 BPM, -2.14 VORP, 63.2 three point rate with 27.0% 3PT%

Additions

Marie-Paule Foppossi, 6’1” redshirt sophomore forwardtransferred from Syracuse; in ’18-’19: 17 G, 0 starts, 6.1 MPG, 0.9 PPG, shot 32.8% TS%/31.8 eFG% on 13.7% usage, 3.1 PER, -5.54 BPM, -0.13 VORP; will likely miss ’19-‘20

Emmanuelle Tahane, 6’1” sophomore forward – transferred from Missouri; in ’18-’19: 35 G, 1 starts, 13.3 MPG, 3.3 PPG, shot 54.7% TS%/51.1 eFG% on 17.6% usage, 14.7 PER, 0.48 BPM, 0.87 VORP, 13.39 ORB%, 46.1 free throw rate with 63.4% FT%; will likely miss ’19-‘20

Veronika Vorackova, 5’9” redshirt sophomore guard – transferred from Syracuse; did not play two previous seasons; native of Czech Republic; won gold with U20 team

Freshmen: Kassondra Brown, 6’2” center, Abington HS, Abington, PA – won Intelligencer’s Player of the Year Award

Brazil Harvey-Carr, 6’1” forward, Leap Academy, Camden, NJ – scored 2,293 points in high school career

Haby Niang, 6’3” center, Les Lilas, France – played for national U16 & U20 teams

#11 Duquesne Dukes

2018-19 record: 19-13, 11-5 Atlantic 10, third place

Postseason: none

Head coach: Dan Burt

Career record: 133-67, six seasons

Record at Duquesne: same

The Dukes won six fewer games from the 2017-18 season and failed to make the postseason. This can largely be tied to a weakened offensive performance, which went from just outside the top 50 to near the national average. They weren’t able to make up for this on the defensive end, either, leaving them unable to make up the difference.

Duquesne is hit heavily by graduation this year, losing four players who recorded at least 12 starts and three players who played at least 22 minutes per game. Of these four, Kadri-Ann Lass is likely the one who contributed the most last year, as she was a solid offensive player in a featured role for the team. Julijana Vojinovic played a huge role on offense and managed solid scoring efficiency numbers as well.

They return a group of players who predominately had small roles on offense, with only Laia Sole carrying even a normal sized load on offense. These leaves big questions offensively. Similarly, their continuity is called into question with their graduation losses. It feels like it’ll be difficult for Duquense to be among the top teams in the A-10. Despite the string of success that Burt has had as their head coach, I’ll play it safe and predict them to fall closer to the middle of the conference this year.

Losses:

Graduated: Kadri-Ann Lass, 6’3” wing – 32 G, 32 starts, 29.0 MPG, 10.9 PPG, shot 48.4% TS%/45.8 eFG% on 22.7% usage, 19.2 PER, 1.60 BPM, 2.30 VORP, 7.94 BLK%; Chassidy Omogrosso, 5’4” guard – 32 G, 23 starts, 28.8 MPG, 12.2 PPG, shot 49.6% TS%/45.1 eFG% on 24.0% usage, 17.7 PER, 0.33 BPM, 1.48 VORP; Conor Richardson, 5’10” guard – 28 G, 12 starts, 15.6 MPG, 4.5 PPG, shot 45.2% TS%/39.8 eFG% on 20.6% usage, 13.7 PER, 0.29 BPM, 0.61 VORP, 4.57 STL%; Julijana Vojinovic, 5’10” guard – 32 G, 14 starts, 22.8 MPG, 10.9 PPG, shot 50.0% TS%/44.1 eFG% on 28.4% usage, 20.2 PER, 1.22 BPM, 1.62 VORP, 56.9 three point rate with 27.1% 3PT%

Returning players:

Nina Aho, 5’10” redshirt junior guard – 5 G, 1 starts, 18.6 MPG, 6.4 PPG, shot 61.8% TS%/62.0 eFG% on 15.6% usage, 17.0 PER, -0.25 BPM, 0.02 VORP

Libby Bazelak, 5’9” junior guard – 32 G, 31 starts, 30.7 MPG, 7.4 PPG, shot 51.2% TS%/46.8 eFG% on 14.8% usage, 17.3 PER, 4.32 BPM, 4.28 VORP, 3.55 STL%

Halle Bovell, 5’11” redshirt junior guard – 32 G, 9 starts, 13.4 MPG, 0.8 PPG, shot 28.2% TS%/22.2 eFG% on 8.3% usage, 5.7 PER, -1.95 BPM, 0.01 VORP, 75.0 free throw rate with 40.7% FT%

Paige Cannon, 6’1” redshirt senior wing – 32 G, 21 starts, 19.8 MPG, 5.3 PPG, shot 55.7% TS%/51.9 eFG% on 15.9% usage, 15.8 PER, 2.79 BPM, 2.10 VORP

Amanda Kalin, 5’8” junior guard – 32 G, 13 starts, 19.3 MPG, 5.8 PPG, shot 51.1% TS%/46.1 eFG% on 17.4% usage, 17.1 PER, 1.49 BPM, 1.49 VORP

Laia Sole, 6’2” redshirt junior forward – 30 G, 1 starts, 12.8 MPG, 4.6 PPG, shot 49.6% TS%/44.4 eFG% on 22.9% usage, 18.3 PER, 0.05 BPM, 0.51 VORP, 41.0 free throw rate with 68.8% FT%

Additions

Freshmen: Caroline Elliott, 5’11” redshirt freshman, Vincentian Academy, Glenshaw, PA – won three WPIAL and two PIAA championships; sister of teammate Kiersten Elliott

Amaya Hamilton, 6’2” wing, Hamilton Southeastern, Fishers, IN – won MVP of Indiana-Kentucky All-Star Game; was selected as a Indiana Junior All-Star

Precious Johnson, 6’4” center, Marks Gymnasieskola, Helsinborg, Sweden – member of U18 & U20 Sweden National Teams

Bernada Rreshpja, 5’10” guard, Valley Christian Academy, Santa Maria, CA – averaged 27 PPG at VCA; native of Albania, where she’s captain of their U18 & senior national teams

Snezhana Serafimoska, 6’4” forward, Nebraska City HS, Nebraska City, NE – native Macedonian, where she compets for their senior national team; expected to redshirt this year

Machaela Simmons, 5’8” redshirt freshman guard, Hayfield HS, Alexandria, VA – first-team All-District selection; selected to All-Tournament Team for Oakton Cougar Classic

#12 Saint Joseph’s Hawks

2018-19 record: 12-19, 7-9 Atlantic 10, tied for eighth place

Postseason: none

Head coach: Cindy Griffin

Career record: 369-280, 21 seasons

Record at Saint Joseph’s: 321-246, 18 seasons

This team wasn’t able to recover from the loss of Chelsea Woods and struggled as a result. They lose five more players entering 2019-2020, including Alyssa Monaghan, the team MVP last year.

Among their returning players, Katie Mayock was the best last year. She’s a strong shot blocker and scored decently efficiently. Her offensive role was limited, though, and if she’s going to be the top player on this team, she’ll likely have to improve notably on that side of the ball.

This team struggled quite a bit on offense. They struggled to get to the free throw line and while they embraced the three pointer, they didn’t make them at a great rate. When you add in their weak offensive rebounding performance, and this is an offense that was fundamentally flawed. They’ll need a lot of work on that side of things.

I don’t think this will be a bounce back season – I just don’t see what members of their roster will be able to step up and lead a winning team in a strong A-10.

Key losses:

Graduated: Kristalyn Baisden, 5’10” guard – 29 G, 28 starts, 29.3 MPG, 8.4 PPG, shot 46.4% TS%/42.9 eFG% on 20.7% usage, 9.3 PER, -2.39 BPM, -0.20 VORP, 53.4 three point rate with 34.6% 3PT%; Michala Clay, 6’0” forward – 21 G, 12 starts, 15.7 MPG, 3.4 PPG, shot 41.0% TS%/36.6 eFG% on 19.2% usage, 10.8 PER, -2.74 BPM, -0.11 VORP; Whisper Fisher, 6’2” forward – 30 G, 18 starts, 18.8 MPG, 3.8 PPG, shot 43.9% TS%/43.1 eFG% on 16.0% usage, 13.6 PER, -0.76 BPM, 0.45 VORP, 5.25 BLK%, 20.0 DRB%; Rachel Gartner, 5’7” graduate student guard – 3 G, 1 starts, 17.0 MPG, 4.0 PPG, shot 55.1% TS%/55.0 eFG% on 18.3% usage, 6.9 PER, -6.48 BPM, -0.01 VORP, 20.5 DRB%; Alyssa Monaghan, 5’5” guard – 30 G, 30 starts, 37.0 MPG, 14.4 PPG, shot 55.9% TS%/49.5 eFG% on 22.5% usage, 21.9 PER, 4.05 BPM, 4.32 VORP

Returning players:

Nailah Delinois, 5’9” senior guard – 23 G, 9 starts, 15.1 MPG, 2.1 PPG, shot 27.2% TS%/25.6 eFG% on 19.3% usage, -1.4 PER, -7.90 BPM, -1.01 VORP

Katie Jekot, 5’9” redshirt sophomore guard – 31 G, 25 starts, 27.4 MPG, 7.5 PPG, shot 39.5% TS%/36.3 eFG% on 22.3% usage, 10.2 PER, -0.94 BPM, 0.60 VORP, 59.4 three point rate with 25.5% 3PT%

Katie Mayock, 6’2” sophomore forward – 31 G, 14 starts, 22.1 MPG, 5.9 PPG, shot 49.6% TS%/47.4 eFG% on 17.7% usage, 19.8 PER, 2.98 BPM, 2.27 VORP, 5.79 BLK%

Lula Roig, 5’9” junior guard – 30 G, 16 starts, 24.5 MPG, 6.1 PPG, shot 47.1% TS%/41.1 eFG% on 19.5% usage, 13.2 PER, -1.13 BPM, 0.41 VORP, 63.2 free throw rate with 60.4% FT%

Mary Sheehan, 5’10” junior guard – 30 G, 2 starts, 18.3 MPG, 3.7 PPG, shot 40.0% TS%/39.2 eFG% on 15.2% usage, 9.3 PER, -2.80 BPM, -0.28 VORP

Additions:

Freshmen: Imogen Ayliffe, 6’2” forward, Willetton Senior High, Perth, Australia

Kaliah Henderson, 5’9” guard, Robinson HS, Riverview, FL

Claire Melia, 6’3” forward, Ardscoil Rath Iomghain, Monasterevin, Ireland

Lauren Ross, 5’9” guard, Shipley School, Media, PA

Gabby Smalls, 6’2” forward, Life Center Academy, Browns Mills, NJ

Jaden Walker, 5’11” wing, Susquehannock, New Freedom, PA

#13 La Salle Explorers

2018-19 record: 6-25, 3-13 Atlantic 10, tied for 13th place

Postseason: none

Head coach: Mountain MacGillivray

Career record: 6-25, one season

Record at La Salle: same

Jeff Williams was replaced as head coach of La Salle. The Explorers fell from 17-13 to 8-22 in his last two seasons. After that drop, Mountain MacGillivray was given the reigns. His first season was tough, with just six wins overall and only three in conference. He’ll obviously be hoping to get things moving in the positive direction this season.

The toughest obstacle to overcome with this team is a terrible offensive performance last season. They finished in the bottom 10 for offensive rating and offensive true shooting percentage. Pairing that with a mediocre defense was more than enough to make 2018-19 a lost season.

On top of all of that, La Salle lost five regulars to transfers after the season, as well as one more to graduation. This leaves just two returning players who made double digit starts last year.

On the bright side, they do get Shalina Miller back, who’s a solid defensive presence for them. Dej King and Sofilia Ngwafang both looked good in limited time; if they can stay on the court this year, they’ll help this team in better shape. They add three transfers as well, which will boost their experience levels.

This rebuilding job will definitely extend beyond the ’19-’20 season. There’s just too many holes on this team to feel like they’ll be among the Atlantic 10 contenders this year.

Losses:

Graduated: Jeryn Reese, 6’0” forward – 31 G, 29 starts, 28.7 MPG, 8.8 PPG, shot 40.0% TS%/36.9 eFG% on 21.1% usage, 11.8 PER, -3.69 BPM, -1.01 VORP, 20.2 DRB%

Transferred: Rayshel Brown, 5’8” junior guard – transferred to Brown; 21 G, 18 starts, 25.1 MPG, 8.3 PPG, shot 45.7% TS%/44.1 eFG% on 20.9% usage, 13.1 PER, -2.74 BPM, -0.18 VORP, 3.38 STL%

Michelle Nicholls, 5’9” junior wing – transferred to Purdue Fort Wayne; 31 G, 15 starts, 25.8 MPG, 7.4 PPG, shot 44.2% TS%/41.6 eFG% on 20.8% usage, 9.0 PER, -4.25 BPM, -1.20 VORP, 51.9 three point rate with 29.8% 3PT%

Janay Sanders, 5’10” sophomore guard – transferred to Appalachian State; 26 G, 20 starts, 28.2 MPG, 6.6 PPG, shot 36.6% TS%/33.0 eFG% on 21.7% usage, 4.0 PER, -7.47 BPM, -2.25 VORP, 64.8 free throw rate with 43.2% FT%

Shayla Sweeney, 5’11” sophomore guard – transferred to Canisius; 31 G, 11 starts, 22.9 MPG, 5.9 PPG, shot 36.0% TS%/31.0 eFG% on 21.2% usage, 4.0 PER, -7.87 BPM, -2.78 VORP

Jasmine White, 6’1” junior forward – transferred to New haven (D-II); 27 G, 3 starts, 12.1 MPG, 1.5 PPG, shot 33.9% TS%/33.9 eFG% on 12.7% usage, 2.2 PER, -6.95 BPM, -0.94 VORP, 67.8 three point rate with 25.0% 3PT%

Returning players:

Deja King, 5’7” junior guard – 14 G, 12 starts, 31.1 MPG, 9.0 PPG, shot 47.3% TS%/37.1 eFG% on 19.9% usage, 10.8 PER, -3.30 BPM, -0.17 VORP, 3.34 STL%, 61.0 free throw rate with 75.0% FT%

Shalina Miller, 6’2” senior post – 31 G, 28 starts, 25.2 MPG, 8.1 PPG, shot 45.4% TS%/42.0 eFG% on 21.4% usage, 18.1 PER, 1.43 BPM, 1.79 VORP, 7.95 BLK%, 3.11 STL%

Erin Morgan, 5’8” sophomore guard – 28 G, 7 starts, 9.3 MPG, 0.4 PPG, shot 21.4% TS%/16.7 eFG% on 6.4% usage, -0.4 PER, -7.51 BPM, -0.86 VORP, 79.2 three point rate with 10.5% 3PT%

Sofilia Ngwafang, 6’4” senior center – 9 G, 1 starts, 13.7 MPG, 7.0 PPG, shot 53.6% TS%/54.3 eFG% on 27.4% usage, 23.4 PER, -2.62 BPM, -0.01 VORP, 13.45 ORB%, 63.0 free throw rate with 44.8% FT%

Kayla Spruill, 6’0” sophomore wing – 31 G, 9 starts, 17.1 MPG, 5.2 PPG, shot 45.1% TS%/40.5 eFG% on 18.8% usage, 12.2 PER, -2.88 BPM, -0.31 VORP, 52.9 three point rate with 27.2% 3PT%

#14 St. Bonaventure Bonnies

2018-19 record: 8-22, 5-11 Atlantic 10, 12th place

Postseason: none

Head coach: Jesse Fleming

Career record: 25-66, three seasons

Record at St. Bonaventure: same

The Bonnies failed to break into double digit wins for the third consecutive year after a 8-22 outing. Only one player finished above the “average” mark for Player Efficiency Rating, and that player – Mckenna Maycock – graduated. Three players also transferred out of the program.

The best returning players are Asianae Johnson and Emily Calabrese. Both of them were decent but they seem likely to struggle as top two players for conference contention.

Two junior college transfers come in this season, match last year’s totals. They also add a transfer in Tori Harris plus three freshmen.

Barring tremendous debuts or greatly improved returning players, I don’t see a path where St. Bonaventure finishes with a winning season. I also feel like this is potentially a key season for Jesse Fleming’s career. If they perform poorly, it’s not out of the question that St. Bonaventure will look in a different direction for this team’s future.

Losses:

Graduated: Mckenna Maycock, 5’9” guard – 24 G, 24 starts, 33.3 MPG, 12.3 PPG, shot 48.8% TS%/45.0 eFG% on 23.7% usage, 16.2 PER, 1.17 BPM, 1.30 VORP, 58.7 three point rate with 33.3% 3PT%

Transferred: Abigail Johnson, 6’2” junior forward – 6 G, 0 starts, 9.0 MPG, 2.5 PPG, shot 54.5% TS%/58.3 eFG% on 19.9% usage, 13.1 PER, -7.11 BPM, -0.04 VORP, 16.47 ORB%, 3.24 STL%

Danielle Migliore, 5’7” senior guard – grad transfer to Rutgers; 29 G, 6 starts, 20.7 MPG, 5.6 PPG, shot 45.0% TS%/42.5 eFG% on 19.3% usage, 9.2 PER, -3.21 BPM, -0.45 VORP, 78.3 three point rate with 30.0% 3PT%

Bree Paulson, 6’0” redshirt senior wing – grad transfer to Miami (OH); 30 G, 14 starts, 20.1 MPG, 3.7 PPG, shot 48.8% TS%/48.1 eFG% on 11.1% usage, 7.5 PER, -2.00 BPM, 0.00 VORP, 94.4 three point rate with 33.3% 3PT%

Returning players:

Emily Calabrese, 6’0” junior forward – 30 G, 19 starts, 23.1 MPG, 6.6 PPG, shot 48.5% TS%/44.5 eFG% on 18.7% usage, 13.3 PER, -3.02 BPM, -0.45 VORP

Claudia Del Moral, 5’6” senior guard – 27 G, 3 starts, 12.4 MPG, 2.0 PPG, shot 42.6% TS%/35.6 eFG% on 13.5% usage, 7.6 PER, -4.70 BPM, -0.52 VORP, 50.0 free throw rate with 65.4% FT%

Deja Francis, 5’7” sophomore guard – 30 G, 27 starts, 29.1 MPG, 9.4 PPG, shot 44.3% TS%/39.4 eFG% on 26.4% usage, 10.0 PER, -4.73 BPM, -1.53 VORP, 30.29 AST% with 28.5% TO%

Asianae Johnson, 5’8” sophomore guard – 30 G, 30 starts, 27.0 MPG, 9.7 PPG, shot 46.4% TS%/40.6 eFG% on 24.8% usage, 14.7 PER, -2.36 BPM, -0.19 VORP, 45.8 free throw rate with 66.4% FT%

Dajah Logan, 5’11” senior guard – 30 G, 12 starts, 22.0 MPG, 7.0 PPG, shot 44.7% TS%/42.8 eFG% on 23.0% usage, 10.4 PER, -3.85 BPM, -0.78 VORP

Amanda Oliver, 6’1” senior forward – 29 G, 15 starts, 19.7 MPG, 2.7 PPG, shot 49.4% TS%/48.7 eFG% on 8.8% usage, 11.2 PER, -1.38 BPM, 0.22 VORP, 21.0 DRB%

Additions:

Tori Harris, 6’0” junior guard – transferred from James Madison; will likely miss ’19-’20; in ’18-’19, 25 G, 0 starts, 10.1 MPG, 2.2 PPG, shot 43.3% TS%/40.5 eFG% on 15.7% usage, 9.8 PER, 0.66 BPM, 0.36 VORP, 56.9 three point rate with 33.3% 3PT%

Jurnee President, 5’10” junior guard – transferred from New Mexico JuCo; reached NJCAA Division I National Championship Game

Kayla Wilson, 5’11” junior forward – transferred from Hostos CC; won two straight NJCAA Division III National Championships

Freshmen: Olivia Brown, 5’8” guard, East Grand Rapids HS, East Grand Rapids, MI – All-State Honorable Mention selection; averaged 17.7 PPG in high school

Kaitlyn Parker, 5’9” guard, Dr. Henry A. Wise HS, Suitland, MD – won team’s MVP; averaged 11.7 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 2.0 APG, 4.1 SPG, 1.1 BPG as senior

Olivia Tucker, 5’9” guard, Sanford HS, Newark, DE – won state championship; thrice selected to Delaware All-State team

Scouting Brittney Griner – Game 5 of ’18 Eastern Conference Finals – First Quarter

I was a little late to Diana Taurasi’s Bun’s rewatch of this game, but I decided to take the time to watch it. Thanks, boring Rockets-Jazz Game 2!

I decided to do this while focusing on Brittany Griner. Griner finished the game with 21 points, 4 blocks, 9 boards, 6 assists, and a steal. She shot 8-12 from the floor and 5-6 from the line. She finished with a team high 40 minutes played, but with a +/- of -10.

These notes are chronological in order. It’s hard to take the time to post too many time stamps when you’re trying to keep up with the game. Also, the rewind function in the WNBA app is in thirty second increments. I tried to catch all the typos in it as well, so sorry for any I missed.

  • Griner looked a little uncomfortable passing out of a double cross court 9:45 to Bonner, so kicked it to more covered Taurasi
  • Set a sneaky pick for Taurasi around 1 minute in. Next play down the court tried to draw a cheap foul around midcourt from Stewie
  • SEA Alysha Clark drove in and Griner didn’t seem to pick up on it
  • 7:44 – Howard got called for foul on Griner; it looked a little bit like that should have been on Griner but it could have just as easily been a no-call
  • 7:36 – Griner had a much better pass out of a double to Turner for a wide open triple. Turner was directly in front of her, making it easier.
  • Seattle unsurprisingly is trying to draw Griner out of the paint with Howard. I haven’t seen Phoenix go into a zone yet but I wonder if they will.
  • January gets a pass in to Griner for a close shot. January nearly threw it away on the pass.
  • Griner passes out of the tail end of a double to find open Taurasi for three.
  • Taurasi plays way off of Howard, which lets her hit a three in response to the Taurasi 3
  • Griner may have been out of position on a turnover that ended up in the coach’s hand
  • SEA Clark took a three that Griner looked like she could have defended but opted not to. Griner was defending Stewart, so probably not a terrible decision?
  • Griner provides a nice help shot contest on Stewart, though Stewart still makes it.
  • Griner got great position just inside of 5 minutes on offense, gets the ball and puts it in.
  • Stewart drives right at Griner and makes a lay up.
  • Griner looked wide open behind the arc for most of a series where Phoenix had multiple offensive rebounds. At no point did the ball get close to her.
  • Coming out of the timeout, Griner seems a little more lively on D but is still drawn out to the three point line, allowing a Seattle layup
  • Griner tried a straight on 12 foot jumper against a Seattle double team but missed it. This was with 8 left on the shot clock and a teammate (January?) that looked open in the corner
  • It feels like every time that Griner is positioned outside of the three point line on offense, the ball never gets to her. Ignoring when she’s used to set a pick, she doesn’t seem to be a great decoy option.
  • Griner knocked down Stewart after they exchanged forearms to each other’s head. Both looked incidental to a possible offensive foul on Griner when she was boxing Stewie out on a free throw
  • Turner gave Griner a great entry pass for a nice layup despite three Seattle players around her.. Griner did great to  finish in that circumstance.
  • Another attempt to get the ball in to Griner is a bad pass.
  • Griner gets the ball in the paint a third time but passes out to January, who misses the three. For whatever reason, it kind of looked like the ball stuck to Griner’s palm and the ball came out a little funny, but still got to her.
  • Griner seemed to do a decent job of making Stewart uncomfortable while defending her.
  • Griner provided amazing defense on Canada as she drove to the hoop at the end of the quarter, forcing her to make a bad pass out to the perimeter that was intercepted.

I hope to get back to this by watching the second quarter soon.

Why ESPN Keeps Botching Their Women’s Hoops Coverage, and Why It’ll Probably Keep Doing It

During ESPN’s coverage of the WNBA Draft, they were criticized on Twitter for a variety of mistakes, including:

  • Showing on a graphic that Kentucky’s Maci Morris was drafted with the 36th pick, when it was actually South Dakota State’s Macy Miller
  • Misspelling the name of the 2018 WNBA MVP, Breanna Stewart
  • Showing on a graphic that the Minnesota Lynx has completed a trade with the Minnesota Lynx
  • Listing the wrong coach for the Seattle Storm
  • Listing the wrong team that Essence Carson has left
  • Listing the wrong college for Megan Gustafson

I’m probably missing a few from this list, but for just a couple of hours of coverage, it was a shocking rate of errors which started from the opening minutes of the show and carried through to the final draft pick of the night. Of course, all of this comes after ESPN ruined multiple bracket review parties by showing the bracket hours early on ESPNU.

There were some positives of their presentation.. The “talking heads” did a pretty good job throughout the show, the opening promo video was well done and on point (much better than the “Fate” stuff they did for the NCAA Tournament), and it was visually presented well in general. But, it’s hard to think that they would misspell Kevin Durant’s name or list the wrong college for Zion Williamson.

Overall, though, this wasn’t exactly a great night for ESPN, or by extension the WNBA.

I believe the reason for this is basically that ESPN has been shedding personnel – both on air & behind the scenes. Per the New York Times, ESPN laid off over 500 employees between 2015 and 2017. Of course, layoffs doesn’t mean that ESPN has not hired anyone back into those positions.

I think it’s a safe assumption that ESPN devotes the majority of their resources to their most popular sports – football, baseball, and men’s basketball. With the majority of their production work focused on those events, there’s less spent to the rarer broadcasts of the like of women’s basketball. In turn, this leads to questionable decisions and easily fixable errors, and these in turn reflect poorly on the product being presented.

The solution would seem to be a reinvestment into the production work across the board. This seems unlikely to happen any time soon. ESPN has infamously been losing money for years now, and Disney has been pushing them to make cuts to mitigate those losses. With several high dollar contracts for broadcasting rights having multiple years left on them, ESPN is stuck trying to trim their expenditures by cutting personnel costs.

In the face of the financial realities, I don’t see an easy solution that will benefit ESPN’s coverage of women’s hoops. It’d be nice if ESPN would invest sufficient money in their production so that they can avoid such simple mistakes, but with Disney breathing down their necks to turn a profit, it feels likely they’ll keep cutting any and all corners they can.

2019 Preview: Indiana Fever

2018 record: 6-28, last place in Eastern Conference

97.8 Offensive Rating (12th out of 12)

109.7 Defensive Rating (11th out of 12)

77.0 Pace (9th out of 12)

Projected Rotation
Starters:
G Tiffany Mitchell
G Kelsey Mitchell
F/G Betnijah Laney
F Candice Dupree
F Natalie Achonwa
Bench rotation:
F Cappie Pondexter*
G Erica Wheeler
G Shenise Johnson
F Erica McCall
Deep bench:
C Kayla Alexander
F Asia Taylor
F Stephanie Mavunga


* indicates unsigned

The Fever finished up with their worst record in franchise history. More depressingly, their second worst season came in 2017 when they went 9-25. They’re retaining Pokey Chatman as they continue their rebuild after Tamicka Catchings’ retirement.

I write this on the day of the WNBA Draft, so their fortunes could change in about 12 hours, but so far their offseason has been bleak. Victoria Vivians, who started 26 games last year and was their top three point option, tore her ACL and will miss the entire 2019 season. Despite having the worst record in the WNBA, the Fever fell to the third pick in the 2019 draft. Despite receiving a lower spot than expected in the draft, Indiana does benefit from two aspects of this draft: one, it’s deep, so the odds are that they will have a few different options for contributors available to them at number three. Two, it doesn’t have a clear number one pick like A’ja Wilson that would be able to help improve their record right away.

Indiana needs improvement on both sides of the ball, but their interior defense is particularly of concern. Their opponents made 60.6% of their shots around the basket, which was the second worst mark in the WNBA. I think shoring up this aspect of their defense will be a key part of their draft strategy. If they’re fortunate, Teaira McCowan will fall to them at the number three spot. If not, there will be other options like Kalani Brown.

Natalie Achonwa was arguably their MVP last season. She was their leading rebounder and third in scoring on a per game basis. She was an efficient interior scorer while handling a moderate size of the offense. She was also second on the team in total rebounding percentage, barely behind Stephanie Mavunga. Achonwa had her best season by BPM (box plus minus) in 2019. Indiana will hope she can improve on that.

Candice Dupree was the team’s leading scorer last year and will continue to provide a steady influence on the squad. She was a strong defensive rebounder and a solid scorer with a 22.1% usage rate. Dupree’s numbers have fallen off slightly from her peak play in 2014 & 2015, but she’s still an above average forward.

A lot of the Fever’s hopes for improvement hang on the young combo of the Mitchells. They both need to improve their scoring efficiency; Tiffany shot a 39.9% eFG% (effective field goal percentage) on a 19.8 usage percentage, while Kelsey had a 43.2% eFG% on a very high 28.4 usage percentage. The league average for eFG% was 45.0%. Of the 97 players in the WNBA last year who launched 97 field goal tries, Kelsey ranked 79th and Tiffany ranked 90th. Kelsey did show some signs of being a capable point guard with a respectable 20.6% assist percentage. Tiffany’s yet to put up a PER above 15 – used as a marker for an average player – in a season so far in her WNBA career, and her BPM has never ben above -3. Both need to step up their games to hang with the league’s elite guards.

Cappie Pondexter (currently unsigned) is a former seven-time All-Star but her production has fallen off significantly over the last two seasons. Her PER reached a career low in 2017 at 9.09 and finished at 10.11 in 2018. She had finished above 20 in five of her first seven seasons. She’ll need to defeat Father Time in her age 36 season to get back to a level where she’s a clear positive player on the court.

The Fever’s only free agency addition to date is Betnijah Laney. A 6’0” wing, Laney signed from Connecticut where she ranked ninth in minutes played. Her PER of 12.3 and BPM of -0.21 were middle of the road, but far better than where she was in her first two seasons in the league while with the Chicago Sky. She also had a decent 51.4% true shooting percentage on a low 14.5% usage percentage. She’ll provide solid depth off the bench.

Erica Wheeler is a solid backup point guard, though her shooting last year hit worryingly low levels with a 38.8% eFG%. Shenise Johnson was having a great 2017 season until she tore her ACL; hopefully she’s recovered fully and will be able to re-establish herself as a strong guard option for the team. Erica McCall improved from “atrocious” to “below average” in BPM last season; if she could match her great offensive rebounding from last year with her strong defensive rebounding from 2017, she’d at least be a great option on the boards for the Fever.

Kayla Alexander fell off from her performances in 2016 & 2017 in San Antonio, in part because her turnover numbers went up while her assists and offensive rebounds declined. Asia Taylor’s numbers in 2014 & 2017 indicated a solid, end of bench player, but she fell off terribly last year. Her eFG% fell to 32.8%, her offensive rebounding rate hit an all-time low, and her turnover rate was worse than her rookie numbers. Stephanie Mavunga was a pleasant surprise as the 14th pick last year. A strong rebounder, she also scored efficiently, even if it was often as a last resort. She could have a long career as a solid role player, but the fact that there’s an actual argument that she’s the best big on this roster pre-draft is not a great sign for the team’s strength.

Excluding Achonwa, Dupree and maybe Victoria Vivians, this roster has no clear above average players, and it certainly lacks a player that will be a guaranteed star in 2019. The rebuild will continue in 2019, and there is a distinct possibility that they’ll finish with the worst record again this year.

Edit: Initially forgot that Cappie Pondexter is a free agent. I’ll leave her listed in case she gets picked up again.