This season marks the 41st year of NCAA women’s basketball play in the Big East Conference. At Tuesday’s basketball media day at Madison Square Garden, players and coaches spoke of their hopes and preparations for the big season ahead. As expected, University of Connecticut is the unanimous preseason favorite, but the Huskies are without Paige Bueckers, who will miss the season due to a knee injury.
Georgetown University players are pleased to embody all that a student-athlete can be. Senior forward Graceann Bennett said when she was being recruited it was important to pick a school with intense academic rigor. “Have a degree that has a lot of value after I stop playing basketball. It’s totally worth it,” said Bennett.
Junior guard Kelsey Ransom took part in the Big East’s recent Transition Game program, which gave players a glimpse of life after college. “I appreciate being at a school that prepares us for the time after basketball,” she said.
Marquette University head coach Megan Duffy said she enjoyed being back in Madison Square Garden seeing all the other coaches. “It will be an interesting year for the Big East,” said Duffy. “We have a lot of new faces. I think it’s going to be extremely competitive and you’ll see different styles of play. Our job in non-conference is go out and make some statement wins and set the tone. Once we get into conference play…we jockey for position. This year is unique because I think a lot of teams have a great opportunity to have a successful year.”
This is DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno’s 37th season. His players are ready to take in his expertise and deliver on the court. “I think this is going to be a very competitive season,” said senior guard Kierra Collier. “We’ve got a lot of newcomers, so we’re building that team chemistry to being the best team that we can be.” After three years impacted by the pandemic, Collier wants to enjoy bonding with the fans this season. “Being able to take in the full experience,” she said.
Even without Bueckers, Connecticut is strong and has height, athleticism and an intense focus on winning its 12th NCAA title. Three players—sophomore guard Caroline Ducharme, junior forward Aaliyah Edwards and sophomore guard Azzi Fudd—are all named to the Preseason All-Big East Team.