Photo by Grace Hensley.
JAKE KAUFMAN | SPORTS REPORTER | email@example.com
The 2023-24 basketball season is almost underway. The Big East had a busy summer full of transfers, coaching changes and new arrivals who are now ready to take center stage. The field of teams include five squads that made March Madness last year, with more looking to make the jump this season. Here are the key players to look out for in the Big East this women’s basketball season.
Teams are listed according to their Big East records last year (top to bottom).
UConn had its worst season in almost 20 years and still finished with a record of 31-6 and 14-2 in conference play. With 2021 National Player of the Year Paige Bueckers back after missing all of last season and returning stars such as Aaliyah Edwards and Azzi Fudd, UConn appears primed to once again come out on top of the Big East.
Coming off a 22-9 season with a record of 15-5 in conference play, the Bluejays appear ready to take a jump and challenge for the top spot in the Big East. Creighton returns its top four scorers from a year ago and has a lot of continuity in an offseason where many teams lost their top players. Expect Jensen to make first team All Big-East.
Key Departures: Maddy Siegrist (29.2 ppg)
The Wildcats have a lot of searching to do in order to replace the scoring of Maddy Siegrist. The forward led the nation in scoring at 29.2 points per game and scored over 40 percent of Villanova’s points last season. Fortunately, the team returned their next five leading scorers from a year ago.
Key Additions: Skylar Forbes (first year), Halle Vice (first year), Gulf Coast State College transfer Abbey Cracknell (11.0 ppg), Lehigh transfer Frannie Hottinger (20.3 ppg), Central Michigan transfer Bridget Utberg (12.5 ppg)
Key Departures: Chloe Marrota (14.8 ppg)
Marquette is another team coming off a successful season that is hoping to take the next step. The Golden Eagles not only returned their leading scorer from last season but also added 2022-23 Patriot League Player of the Year Frannie Hottinger to give them a solid one-two punch. Marquette should be in contention for an NCAA Tournament spot.
Key Additions: Grace Carsensten (first year), Charlece Ohiaeri (first year), Sumer Lee (first year), Shakara McCline (first year), Haley Walker (redshirt first year) Michigan transfer Michelle Sidor (1.4 ppg), UCLA transfer Brynn Masikewich (1.4 ppg), Missouri transfer Katlyn Gilbert (4.8 ppg), Michigan transfer Kate Clark
The Blue Demons have a lot going against them in their attempt to recover from only their fourth .500 season in Doug Bruno’s 36 years as head coach. Two-time All-American Aneesah Morrow transferred to LSU, and their next two leading scorers are also no longer with the program. With little continuity, it will be up to the various grad transfers to make a splash impact.
Key Additions: Savannah Catalon (first year), Sydney Eggleton (first year), Joniyah Bland-Fitzpatrick (first year), UMass transfer Makennah White (9.5 ppg), St. Bonaventure transfer I’yanna Lops (9.1 ppg), Manhattan College transfer Brazil Harvey-Carr (9.2 ppg), Cornell transfer Shannon Mulroy (8.7 ppg), Northern Illinois transfer A’Jah Davis (16.2 ppg), TSU transfer Micah Gray (16.7 ppg)
The loss of two All-Big East Team selections and the team’s top two scorers Lauren Park-Lane and Sidney Cooks leaves big shoes to fill for the Pirates. However, Seton Hall added a lot of talent through the transfer portal which should be able to fill some of the gaps and keep the team competitive. Northern Illinois transfer A’Jah Davis, who averaged 16.2 points and 12.4 rebounds a game last season, hopes to maintain that production in the Big East while being the Pirate’s likely go-to player.
Key Additions: Karsyn Norman (first year), Riley Makalusky (first year), Cristen Carter (first year), Michigan transfer Ari Wiggins (1.1 ppg), Purdue transfer Lilly Stoddard, IUPUI transfer Rachel Kent (12.4 ppg)
The Bulldogs are coming into this season optimistic. After winning just one game in 2021-22, Austin Parkinson guided Butler to an 11-19 record and a tie for eighth place in the Big East last season. While the Dawgs lost their leading scorer from a year ago in Rachel McLimore, they retained most of their other key pieces, while also adding talent both from the transfer portal and from recruiting. Sydney Jaynes has a chance to make an all-conference team after showing consistent improvement year after year.
Key Additions: Julie Bahati (first year), Tyonna Bailey (first year), Jayda Brown (first year), Nevaeh Wingate (first year), Pittsburgh transfer Amber Brown (9.8 ppg), UMass transfer Ber’Nyah Mayo (12.6 ppg), DePaul transfer Tara Daye (1.9 ppg)
Like a lot of other teams in the conference, St. John’s lost their two leading scorers in Jayla Everett and Kadaja Bailey. However, the Red Storm still has a number of the pieces from the team that went 23-9 a season ago and made solid moves through the transfer portal. Jillian Archer has the potential to average a double-double this season.
Key Additions: Sahana Kanagasabay (first year), Sophi Hall (first year), Ugne Sirtautaite (first year), Bella McLaughlin (first year), Kendall Eddy (first year), St. Francis College Brooklyn transfer Sarah Bandoma (6.1 ppg), Wake Forest transfer Marta Morales Romero
Providence hopes to improve on their 4-16 record in Big East play from a year ago. The Friars lost their two leading scorers, but they added a lot of new faces through recruiting and the transfer portal. First-year head coach Erin Batth will have to work to build chemistry with all the new players. There is hope that Wake Forest transfer Marta Morales Romero’s experience playing for her native Spain at the 2023 FIBA U20 Women’s European Championship this summer will take her game to the next level.
Georgetown lost two of their leading scorers from last season, but otherwise have a lot of returning faces. With only three new players, the Hoyas will rely on continuity and star Kelsey Ransom to improve on the 14-17 record from a year ago. Wagner transfer Alex Cowan should bring a scoring punch to Georgetown after averaging 14 points per game last season.
After finishing 11th in the Big East last season with a record of 7-23, including 0-20 in conference play, the Musketeers are mainly bringing back the same core from a year ago. In order for Xavier to outshine the predictions, one or more first years will need to have breakout years to try and spark an offense that averaged 55.2 points per game. Lika Kvirkveila, a 6’4″ first-year center, should be an interesting player to watch.