Women’s Basketball Finishes Sixth in Coaches’ Poll

Image credit: nuhuskies.com

By Milton Posner

The Northeastern women’s basketball team placed sixth in the annual CAA preseason poll released Thursday. Unlike the men’s poll, in which coaches, media relations directors, and media members vote, the women’s poll asks only the coaches, who are barred from voting for their own team.

TeamPoints (First-Place Votes)
James Madison Dukes81 (9)
Drexel Dragons70 (1)
Towson Tigers65
Delaware Blue Hens59
UNCW Seahawks47
Northeastern Huskies40
William & Mary Tribe32
Elon Phoenix28
Charleston Cougars15
Hofstra Pride13

James Madison, the unanimous title favorite, showcases a formidable lineup headlined by Preseason Player of the Year Kamiah Smalls and three second-team members: Lexie Barrier, Jackie Benitez, and Kayla Cooper-Williams. Benitez earned Sixth Player of the Year accolades last season; Cooper-Williams led the conference in blocks and rebounds en route to winning Defensive Player of the Year.

The Dukes won a program-record 29 games last year, went 17–1 in conference play to notch the first seed, then were unexpectedly bounced in the tournament quarterfinal by ninth-seeded Hofstra, the first time a one seed had ever lost so early.

James Madison cast its first-place vote for Drexel, which features last year’s Player of the Year Bailey Greenberg and four other returning starters, including CAA All-Rookie selection Keishana Washington. Drexel boasted the best defense in the nation last year, but ultimately fell to Towson in the CAA title game. Towson returns four starters, including preseason first-teamers Kionna Jeter and Nukiya Mayo.

First TeamKamiah Smalls, James Madison
Bailey Greenberg, Drexel
Kionna Jeter, Towson
Nukiya Mayo, Towson
Nicole Enabosi, Delaware
Second TeamLexie Barrier, James Madison
Jackie Benitez, James Madison
Kayla Cooper-Williams, James Madison
Samone DeFreese, Delaware
GiGi Smith, UNCW
Honorable MentionShannon Todd, Northeastern
Deja Ford, Charleston
Niki Metzel, Drexel
Victoria Reynolds, William & Mary
Lacey Suggs, UNCW

Last season, led by guard Jess Genco and forward Gabby Giacone, Northeastern led the CAA in field-goal percentage (42.3) and three-point percentage (36.6). The Huskies fared well in non-conference play, posting an 11–3 record, but won only nine of their 18 CAA games to finish sixth. The program made its first ever WNIT but lost in the first round to Butler.

Head coach Kelly Cole will have to overcome the graduation of Genco — the program’s all-time third-leading scorer and its record holder in minutes, assists, and three-pointers — and Giacone. Shannon Todd, who averaged 11 points per game last year and earned preseason honorable mention, will be asked to do more offensively, as will Ayanna Dublin, Katie May, Stella Clark, and Kendall Currence.

Northeastern opens its season at home against South Dakota at noon ET on November 5.

Men’s Basketball Finishes Third in Preseason Poll

Image credit: nuhuskies.com

By Milton Posner

Ahh, the CAA Preseason Poll. That wonderful time of year when the conference’s coaches, media relations directors, and media members (including a few from your favorite Northeastern student radio station) gaze deep into their crystal balls and relay the results of the upcoming season. The results of this annual divination ritual, released Wednesday, were among the closest ever, with five teams receiving first-place votes.

TeamPoints (First-Place Votes
Hofstra Pride331 (14)
Charleston Cougars323 (18)
Northeastern Huskies291 (4)
James Madison Dukes253 (3)
Delaware Blue Hens241 (2)
Towson Tigers194
William & Mary Tribe131
Drexel Dragons125
UNCW Seahawks118
Elon Phoenix48

Hofstra, the defending regular-season titleholder, narrowly topped Charleston despite receiving fewer first-place votes. Northeastern finished third without immediate neighbors, and James Madison squeaked ahead of Delaware.

Charleston senior guard Grant Riller took home Preseason Player of the Year Honors and headlined the All-CAA First Team.

First TeamGrant Riller, Charleston
Nathan Knight, William & Mary
Brian Fobbs, Towson
Eli Pemberton, Hofstra
Matt Lewis, James Madison
Second TeamJordan Roland, Northeastern
Ryan Allen, Delaware
Camren Wynter, Drexel
Desure Buie, Hofstra
Darius Banks, James Madison
Honorable MentionBolden Brace, Northeastern
Kai Toews, UNCW
Kevin Anderson, Delaware
James Butler, Drexel
Marcus Sheffield II, Elon

Hofstra, Charleston, and Northeastern, the top three finishers in the poll, were the top three finishers in the regular season last year, albeit in a different order. All three lost major contributors — Justin Wright-Foreman, Jarrell Brantley, and Vasa Pusica, respectively — to graduation. They, along with fellow first-teamer Devontae Cacok of UNCW, signed pro contracts. This was a familiar theme during the CAA offseason; many of the conference’s most talented players graduated or transferred, including William & Mary’s Justin Pierce, Drexel’s Alihan Demir, and Northeastern’s Shawn Occeus.

Hofstra will look to defend its regular-season crown behind a trio of guards: second-teamer Eli Pemberton, third-teamer and Defensive Player of the Year Desure Buie, and the sweet-shooting Tareq Coburn. Charleston will lean heavily on Riller and hope for increased contributions from their maturing role players, namely Brevin Galloway. Northeastern, the defending CAA champion, offers second-teamer Jordan Roland, versatile guard/forward Bolden Brace, and a mix of returning role players and freshman recruits. James Madison and Delaware look to rebound from losing years behind star guards and, in Delaware’s case, two high-powered transfers in Dylan Painter and Nate Darling.

WRBB will post detailed previews for each CAA team the week before Northeastern’s November 5 opening again Boston University. Michael Petillo and Milton Posner will be on the call; coverage begins at 6:45 PM ET.