October 24, 2022 

2022-23 Patriot League preview

It’s time for the new kids on the block

Fresh faces will have impact on the court and on the sideline this season. Two new head coaches arrive along with a deep freshman class. It’s an exciting time for the programs in the Patriot League that have been out of the championship picture because their moment is coming into focus in 2022-23.

The league gets younger again this season with more than 50 new players suiting up. Is there room for a spoiler or new aspiring champion with the right stuff to push aside traditional powers and make a title push? 

The time is now for a breakthrough. The league has seen nine of 10 programs change coaches within the last four years, six in the last two seasons. Lafayette’s head coach Kia Damon-Olson is now the longest-tenured mentor as she heads into her sixth season.

Players are the move, too. The transfer portal saw 27 student-athletes look for new hardwood horizons for both graduate and undergraduate opportunities.

The landscape of the league continues to grow and change, especially among the usual suspects at the top. American and Lehigh, winners of the last two championships, each saw the departure of its head coach and losses to key personnel. Perennial contender Bucknell lost its starting backcourt to graduation.

The combination of those three programs accounts for 10 out of the previous 15 titles (adding Bucknell’s pandemic regular-season championship). Army and Navy were the only other teams to cut down the nets.

Will those changes at the top open a door for an upstart group with dynamic young talent? You bet it will. Holy Cross showed the way last season, rising above expectations to claim first-place in the regular-season race. 

What’s it going to take? Setting championship expectations and throwing away the coach speak. It’s the perfect time to set aside calls for rebuilding, retooling or reframing what team potential means short of a title — that description only fits a couple of programs this season. The road to the championship game is wide open and most of the league is capable of reaching the final.

However, there is an elephant in the room and it’s wearing white and red. Among a slate of potential new contenders, there is a team with a target on it back and it’s the Terriers.

The preseason poll released by the league gives Boston University the mantle of heavy favorite — and they deserve it. Head coach Melissa Graves’ squad is led by dynamic playmaker Sydney Johnson and returns all five starters from last season’s playoff team.

Sydney Johnson has been breaking down defenses in Case Gymnasium since she was a freshman. Now, as a senior, she looks to bring the favored Terriers their first Patriot League championship. Photo credit: Rich Gagnon

Will Boston rise to its championship moment or succumb to the pressure of being seen as the best team in the field?

The Terriers had similar expectations a year ago but couldn’t find their stride for a return to the championship final they reached in 2020-21 and finished at 17-14. Will they handle the pressure differently this season? Boston has yet to win a title since joining the league in 2013. A fresh-faced favorite? Indeed. And a second-year coach on the verge of a title.

There’s a lot to look forward to in the Patriot League this season. The path to the conference final is accessible to more teams than ever and with a multitude of talented freshmen and sophomores about to assume big roles across the conference, fans may see some unexpected and eyebrow-raising results. 

Although the favored Terriers and perennial contenders return key players, there are several teams capable of writing their own Cinderella story this season.

Is it time for a new kid on the block?

Let’s take a step by step look at each team followed by our preseason predictions. Here’s the breakdown in alphabetical order:


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AMERICAN UNIVERSITY EAGLES

2021-2022 record: 23-9 

Conference record: 13-5 (2nd seed in playoffs)

Head Coach: Tiffany Coll, 1st season

Record at American: 0-0

Career NCAA record: 0-0

Tiffany Coll was named the 14th coach in Eagles’ history in June, replacing long-time coach Megan Gebbia who left to lead Wake Forest in the ACC. Coll spent nine seasons on the bench with Gebbia, helping American to win three league championships. 

Coll is a familiar face around the league, previously serving as an assistant coach at both Lehigh and Navy. She helped Lehigh win two titles in her four seasons on the bench. She was an assistant coach for the Mids during the 2007-08 season.

She played for UMBC and graduated in 2003. She joined the staff at Towson for the 2012-13 season prior to landing at American. She also spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at St. John’s University from 2005-07.

The UMBC graduate is a coach to watch in the Patriot League. Five conference titles as an assistant at two different schools is a foundation few coaches bring to the lead chair on the bench.

Coll welcomes an all new staff to campus in Kaity Healy, Michelle Holmes and Claire Mattox.

KEY RETURNERS: (last season’s stats)

F-Emily Johns, 6’1, JR: 7.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, team-high 46.9% FG, 12.7 MPG, 31 GP, 0 starts

G-Ivy Bales, 5’10, JR: 3.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 33.1% FG, 18.3 MPG, 31 GP, 13 starts

BIGGEST LOSSES: (last season’s stats)

G-Jade Edwards, 5’10, SR: 12.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 45.3% FG, 53 steals, 34.4 MPG, 32 starts, First Team All-Patriot League (graduated, playing as a graduate transfer for DePaul University)

F-Taylor Brown, 6’1, SR: 10.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 43.1% FG, 33.5 MPG, 32 GP, 32 starts, Third Team All-Patriot League (graduated, playing as a graduate transfer for North Dakota State University)

G-Emily Fisher, 5’7, SR: 8.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.2 APG, 43.1% FG, 32.2 MPG, 32 GP, 32 starts, Third Team All-Patriot League (graduated, playing as a graduate transfer for Texas Christian University)

NEWCOMERS:

G-Anna Rescifina, 5’11, (Sicily, Italy), FR: Right-handed wing with perimeter range. Played for club team Reyer VeneziaPlayed for the Italian National Team in 2019.

G-Laura Nogues, 5’7, (Sabadell, Spain), FR: Point guard with scorer’s mentality and three-point range. Club team was Lima Horta de Barcelona.

G-Anna LeMaster, 5’9, (Ashburn, VA), JR: Transfer from Dayton. Sat out freshman season. Played for Stone Bridge High School in Virginia and St. John’s Catholic Prep in Frederick, Maryland. Shooting guard and a 1,000-point scorer in high school.

F-Marisa Lee, 6’1, (Marlborough, CT), JR: Transfer from University of Hartford who posted 2.2 PPG and 1.2 RPG last season, playing 8.9 MPG in 25 appearances. Helped RHAM to a 2018 CIAC Class L state tournament championship as a high school sophomore.

F-Molly Lavin, 6’2, (London, England), FR: Played for City of London Academy. Wing who can score inside and out. Finishes well with right hand around the rim and can handle the ball in transition.

OUTLOOK: American made an impressive run to the championship in 2021-22 behind the play of seniors Taylor Brown, Maddie Doring, Jade Edwards and Emily Fisher. With a COVID year of eligibility ahead for those seniors, and one of the league’s best coaches at the helm in Gebbia, Eagle fans had reason to believe they could run it back this year.

But the Eagles went from repeat to rebuild before you could say ‘transfer portal.’

Those four seniors exited, soon followed by Gebbia. The departures leave Coll and her squad as one of just a couple of programs in true “rebuild” mode this year. The Eagles are going to struggle this season, but they’re in capable hands with Coll and return one of the most successful team cultures in the league.

What the Eagles are missing the most is experience. Forward Lauren Stack (26 starts) and guard Ivy Bales (13 starts) lead the way but no one else on the roster started more than two games last season.

The point guard position will be key with the graduation of the two primary ballhandlers in Edwards and Fisher. Can junior Kayla Henning (23 assists, 19 turnovers) take the lead in the backcourt or will freshman Laura Nogues be the answer? Henning played just 8.8 minutes per game a year ago.

American lost 67.8% of its offense. So who’s going to score? Junior forward Emily Johns is the leading returning scorer at 7.0 points per game, was a key part of the championship run and played her best basketball down the stretch. Can she emerge as a reliable scorer and establish herself as a defensive presence?

Johns will have to step into a larger role for Coll. She played just 12.7 minutes per game.

The Eagles have a very challenging non-conference schedule including games against Arizona State, Notre Dame, DePaul, Villanova and Virginia. Those fresh faces in the lineup are going to get a trial-by-fire.

American doesn’t have the depth or experience to keep up with the top half of the league but they won’t have those expectations this season. Expect growing pains from this storied program.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Coll finds a reliable and consistent line-up that keeps American in competitive games down the stretch of conference play. The Eagles win a playoff game and find some pieces of the puzzle to build on.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: Early losses in non-conference play take a toll on player confidence and it impacts conference play. The team can’t find a cohesive starting five and a plug-and-play approach doesn’t translate to competitive contests or wins.

Army Head Coach Missy Traversi returns for her second season and has the Black Knights pointed in the right direction.
Photo credit: Army West Point Athletic Communications

ARMY BLACK KNIGHTS

2021-2022 record: 16-13 

Conference record: 10-8 (6th seed in playoffs)

Head Coach: Missy Traversi, 2nd season

Record at Army: 16-13

Career NCAA record: 128-72 (16-13 at D1 Army, 83-37 at D2 Adelphi University, 29-22 at D3 Wheelock College)

Traversi enters her second season on the bench for the Black Knights. She’s brought an aggressive, up-tempo philosophy to West Point and has elevated the energy in the program.

Spent five years as the head coach at Division II Adelphi University. She coached the Panthers to an 83-37 (.692) overall record, an NE-10 tournament championship in 2017 and two NCAA Division II Tournament appearances.

Prior to landing at Adelphi, she spent two seasons (2014-16) as the head coach at Division III Wheelock College in Boston.

KEY RETURNERS: (last season’s stats)

F-Sabria Hunter, 6’1, SR: 10.9 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 46.6% FG, 26.3 MPG, 29 GP, 28 starts

G-Lauren Lithgow, 5’9, JR: 4.3 PPG, 33.3% 3PT FG, 27 3PT FGs made, 29 GP, 14 starts, 20.6 MPG

F-Kamryn Hall, 5’11, SR: 6.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 36.6% FG, 20.2 MPG, 26 GP, 8 starts

G-Sam McNaughton, 5’7, JR: 4.8 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 33.3% FG, 22.9 MPG, 27 GP, 16 starts

G-Hope Brown 5’9, SR: 3.9 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 31.4% FG, 17.8 MPG, 28 GP, 15 starts

G-Trinity Hardy, 5’8, SO: 13.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, 35.5% FG, 25.9 MPG, 7 GP, 7 starts

BIGGEST LOSSES: (last season’s stats)

G- Alisa Fallon, 5’10, SR: 13.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.4 APG, 40.1% FG, 33.4 MPG, 27 GP, 27 starts, All-Patriot League Second Team (graduated)

F- Kate Murray 6’0, SR: 9.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 35.1% FG, team-high 46 made threes, 26.3 MPG, 28 GP, 25 starts (graduated)

F- Lindsey Scamman 6’0, SR: 3.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 38.1% FG, 28.9% 3pt FG, 10.9  MPG, 27 GP, 2 starts (graduated)

NEWCOMERS:

F-Addison Ainsworth, 6’0, (Olympia, WA), FR: Athletic forward who can attack off the dribble and post-up. Played for Black Hills High School.

G-Reese Ericson 5’6, (Lake Oswego, OR), FR: Point guard with great court vision. Three Rivers League Player of the Year for Lakeridge High School. Led her team to a number four ranking in the state and a sixth-place finish in the Class 6A state tournament as a senior. A McDonald’s All-American Game nominee.

G-Charlotte Richman, 5’7, (Portland, OR), FR: Skilled point guard with three-point range. First-team all-league as a senior. A four-year varsity starter for Ida B. Wells High School.

G-Alivia Stephens-Kirkman, 5’10, (Puyallup, WA), FR: Athletic wing. Played for Issaquah High School.

G-Julianna Laguna, 5’10, (Staten Island, NY), FR: Dynamic point guard and versatile scorer. Played for Christ the King High School in New York City.

F-Linden Madison, 6’1, (Midlothian, VA), FR: Wing who can play a stretch four. Played for Monacan High School.

G-Sara McShea, 5’10, (Hainesport, NJ), FR: Reached 1,000 points and 700 rebounds for Paul VI High School. Led her team to a 24-4 mark her senior season.

OUTLOOKThe new era for the Black Knights under head coach Missy Traversi got off to an impressive start last year, posting wins over the league’s top programs in American, Bucknell and Lehigh during the regular season.

Traversi’s changes to tempo and defensive style of play made Army a more consistently competitive group last season. The squad’s full-court pressure and tendency to switch all screens made many teams uncomfortable a season ago. Can they take another step forward this season?

If the Black Knights can find a way to replace the production of outgoing senior Alisa Fallon and avoid the injury bug, they are a team to watch. Replacing Fallon (13.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, team-high 65 assists) won’t be easy but the return of a healthy Trinity Hardy and a strong recruiting class will help.

Last year’s freshman star started the first seven games of the season and posted a team-leading 13.4 points per game before a knee injury ended her season. 

Ball control was an issue for Hardy and her teammates last season. The Black Knights committed a league-high 17.2 turnovers and it’s an area they’ll need to improve to take the next step.

Help is on the way in this year’s recruiting class. Three point guards have arrived to boost the backcourt and keep Traversi’s fast-paced style growing. Can a freshman point guard lead a drive for the championship? 

While limiting the Black Knights’ turnovers will be a focus, perimeter shooting will also need to improve to make a push to the title game. Army shot just 37.6% from the floor last season — good for ninth in the league. 

How can they make a run?

If the recruiting class can produce a consistent deep threat, and junior shooting guard Lauren Lithgow can continue to grow as a three-point specialist, Army’s halfcourt offense will make a leap up in efficiency and bring more wins.

On the interior, Army returns forwards Sabria Hunter (10.9 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 46.6% FG) and Kamryn Hall (6.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 8 starts). Hunter led the league in offensive rebounding and the squad led the league in overall rebounding with 40.9 per game.

Army will need this year’s newcomers to play some significant roles to take another step forward. Don’t count them out, there are some future stars suiting up at West Point.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Army grows into a more disciplined offensive team and reduces its turnovers. Perimeter shooting improves enough to allow for more space for Hunter to score inside. The Army freshmen step in and step up and the Black Knights find their way to the conference final.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: The Black Knights remain a fast and physical team but can’t corral their ball control issues or improve their perimeter attack. Army falls in the quarterfinals.

BOSTON UNIVERSITY TERRIERS

2021-2022 record: 17-14

Conference record: 12-6 (3rd seed in playoffs)

Head Coach: Melissa Graves, 2nd season

Record at Boston University: 17-14

Career NCAA record: 17-14

Graves enters her second season as lead mentor. She served previously as an assistant coach for Wake Forest. Her arrival in Boston marks a second appearance in the Patriot League, having spent two seasons (2013-15) as an assistant coach at Colgate. The Raiders went 8-22 and 9-22 in those two campaigns.

In 2019-20, Graves helped guide the Demon Deacons to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 1987-88 season. She played four years at Notre Dame under Hall of Fame coach — and former Lehigh head coach — Muffet McGraw.

KEY RETURNERS: (last season’s stats)

G-Sydney Johnson, 5’9, SR: 15.7 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.4 APG, 34.1 MPG, 28 GP, 27 starts, All-Patriot League First Team

F-Caitlin Weimar, 6’4, JR: 10.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 39 blocks, 28.9 MPG, 27 GP, 24 starts, All-Patriot League Third Team

F-Maren Durant, 6’3, SR: 7.4 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 55.0% FG, led team with 52 blocks, 27.4 MPG, 31 GP, 26 starts, All-Patriot League Third Team

G-Alex Giannaros, 5’5, SO: 10.0 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.2 APG, 26.1 MPG, 25 GP, 19 starts, All-Patriot League All-Rookie Team

G-Maggie Pina, 5’7, SR: 4.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 33.3% FG, 36 made 3pt FGs, 20.1 MPG, 31 GP, 23 starts

BIGGEST LOSSES: (last season’s stats)

F-Riley Childs, 6’0, SR: 5.9 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 34.7% FG, 21.7 MPG, 16 GP, 8 starts (graduated, playing as a graduate transfer for George Mason University)

G-Emily Esposito, 5’9, RS/SR: 6.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 33.3% FG, 27.3 MPG, 19 GP, 19 starts (left team after 19 games last season)

G-Jaycie Christopher, 5’10, RECRUIT: The Miss Maine Basketball Player of the Year was set to arrive this season as a freshman recruit. She left the program in July after attending summer classes and workouts on campus. She played for Skowhegan High School and left as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,561 points. She’ll suit up for the University of Maine this season.

NEWCOMERS:

F-Anastasiia Semenova, 6’2, (Saint Petersburg, Russia), FR: Athletic forward with shooting range. An All-Star on the Russian U16 team that captured the European Girls Basketball League championship. Won two Russian Championship bronze medals on the U16 and U18 teams. 

F-Sam Crispe, 6’2, (Castle Pines, CO), FR: Inside-out scoring threat with shooting range. A 1,000-point scorer for Arapahoe High School. First-Team All-League as a senior and a two-time CHSAA Class 5A All-State. 

OUTLOOK: In a field with so many potential contenders, there is one squad that fits squarely in the category of favorite: Boston University.

The Terriers enter the campaign with a target on their back and deservedly so. Five starters return and the squad brings a balance of inside and outside play that is unmatched. They received 16 out of a possible 20 votes for first place in the league’s pre-season poll.

They are led by senior guard Sydney Johnson (15.7 ppg, 41.9% FG) whose dynamic open-court play makes her one of the most enjoyable players to watch in the league. She’s creative at the rim and consistently finds teammates (team-high 96 assists) for open looks.

Sophomore guard Alex Giannaros made quite a splash as a freshman, earning 19 starts and a spot on the Patriot League All-Rookie Team. She was third on the team in scoring (10.0 ppg) and one of the team’s best three-point threats (40-for-101, 39.6%).

In the post, the Terriers field the imposing tandem of 6’3 senior Maren Durant and 6’4 junior Caitlin Weimar. They each placed in the top five in the league for blocked shots and top ten for rebounding.

Head coach Melissa Graves returns to Commonwealth Avenue for her second season after a rollercoaster first season. The tasks for a first-year coach — new X’s and O’s, growing relationships with players and staff, establishing cultural values — are numerous and challenging. Graves navigated it all while pregnant, giving birth to her first child in February. 

Graves and her staff did a remarkable job last year stepping into a team with championship aspirations and setting a new culture amid the program’s rising expectations. A big win over Boston College and a sweep over Bucknell were highlights.

But there were hurdles. Miscommunication cost the team a game in a 59-57 loss to Maine, and starter Emily Esposito parted ways with the program mid-season after making 19 starts.

The Terriers also fell to eventual-champion American University in the semi-final round, losing both the game (70-48) and their composure. Can they learn from that experience? Will they come to see pressure as an ally in their quest for a title?

Pressure is a privilege of consistently successful programs and the Terriers need to wear those expectations like a badge and not a burden. 

The path to the final is out in front of this team. If they can keep their poise and focus on what they can control, that first Patriot League championship will land in Boston this season.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: The Terriers earn the top-seed for the championship tournament and settle in for a home court run to the final. Weimar and Durant establish themselves as elite rim-protectors and Johnson plays with poise and purpose from start to finish. Graves cuts the net for BU’s first Patriot League championship.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: The Terriers drop a few unexpected games in conference play and find themselves on the road for the championship game. The team falls short of its championship goal.

Bucknell’s Cecelia Collins had an incredible freshman season. The sophomore is one of five players named to the preseason All-Patriot League Team. Photo credit: Lianne Garrahan

BUCKNELL BISON

2021-2022 record: 24-10 

Conference record: 12-6 (4th seed in playoffs)

Head Coach: Trevor Woodruff, 4th season

Record at Bucknell: 57-17

Career NCAA record: 329-162 (159-135 at D3 Misericordia Men’s Basketball, 113-10 at D3 University of Scranton Women’s Basketball)

Woodruff was named the league’s Coach of the Year in each of his first two seasons as head coach. 

KEY RETURNERS: (last season’s stats)

G-Cecelia Collins, 6’0, SO: 11.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.9 APG, 44.2% FG, 74.2% FT, 34.3 MPG, 34 GP, 34 starts, Second-Team All-Patriot League

F-Isabella King, 6’0, SO: 4.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 47.8% FG, 47.9% 3PT FG, 17.8 MPG, 9 starts, converted 24 threes in last 8 games of the season

F-Emma Shaffer, 6’2, SR: 5.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 47.5% FG, 17.4 MPG, 34 GP, 34 starts

BIGGEST LOSSES: (last season’s stats)

G-Taylor O’Brien, 5’9, SR: 16.7 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, 41.0% FG, 77.8% FT, team-high 75 steals, 33.6 MPG, 34 GP, 34 starts, First-Team All-Patriot League (graduated, playing as a graduate transfer for Florida State)
G-Marly Walls, 5’9, SR: 7.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 39.0% FG, 32.8 MPG, 34 GP, 34 starts, Patriot League All-Defensive Team (graduated, playing as a graduate transfer for Pepperdine)

NEWCOMERS:

G-Emma Theodorsson, 6’1, (Moon Township, PA), FR: Versatile scoring wing who notched 1,508 points for Moon Area High School. Two-time All-State selection. 

G-Blake Matthews, 5’4, (Houston, TX), FR: Aggressive scoring point guard who led Atasocita High School to a district title as a junior. A Texas Girls Coaches Association All-State selection who posted 1,268 points, 640 rebounds and 485 assists. Active, pressure defender who excels in an up-tempo style.

F-Grace Sullivan, 6’4, (Antioch, IL), FR: Played for Carmel Catholic High School and scored 1,222 points, grabbed 817 rebounds and blocked 102 shots—all school records. Named Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Second Team All-State. Traditional post but a capable mid-range shooter.

F-Grace Klag, 6’2, (Westfield, NJ), FR: Physical post and aggressive rebounder. Effective scorer in the paint. Helped Westfield High School to a Group 4 State Sectional title as a senior. 

OUTLOOK: Bucknell made an impressive run to the conference final as the four-seed last year, dropping Lehigh and Navy before falling to American University in the championship. Can they make another trip to the final?

The Bison posted a 24-10 record last season after graduating four senior starters. The youth movement in Lewisburg has been a success but the rotation will be less experienced this year. How will the squad look with the graduation of last season’s starting backcourt?

Marly Walls (7.6 ppg and 116 assists) and Taylor O’Brien (team-leading 16.7 ppg) each started all 34 games a year ago and graduated as the team’s top two defenders. The duo combined for 130 steals last season—that’s nearly enough to make the league’s top ten in steals as a full team.

What do league opponents need to know? Bucknell has Cecelia Collins and you don’t. 

The 6’0 sophomore guard is an emerging star. Named a Second Team All-Patriot League member as a freshman, Collins was one of five players named to the preseason All-Patriot League team. 

She started all 34 games last year and was fourth in the league in minutes played. Collins also led her team in minutes per game and plays with the poise and maturity of a senior. Bucknell will need that steady leadership because its line-up gets younger this season.

The Bison suit up just two seniors in 6’2 forward Emma Shaffer (5.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 34 starts) and 5’8 guard Tai Johnson (2.7 ppg, 19 starts). The departure of classmate Carly Krsul, who left the team at the end of last season, makes the Bison frontcourt rotation a little less experienced.

Outside of the paint, sophomore sharpshooter Isabella King emerged down the stretch last season as a reliable three-point threat. She shot 34-for-71 for 47.9% from distance — the most accurate mark on the team.

To be successful, it’s essential for the sophomore class to grow while also getting contributions from the four newcomers in the recruiting class, especially on defense. Consistent defense has been the constant for Woodruff’s squad, and the new line-up will need to find the rhythm of its rotations by the time league play rolls around.

It will take time for this young Bison squad to pull together so expect to see the upperclassmen carry the bulk of the work in the early season while the less experienced players get up to speed on the defensive end.

Last season, the Bison led the league in points allowed, its stingy defense giving up just 54.9 points per game. Head Coach Trevor Woodruff’s team also led in field goal percentage defense, yielding just 36.9% from the floor.

Bucknell will be tested early with non-conference matchups versus Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Temple on tap. There are going to be growing pains in Lewisburg but they should be an improved team when conference play opens up. Among the new faces in the crowd, keep an eye on Emma Theodorsson.

Don’t bet against them being there in the end.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Bucknell rides a challenging non-conference schedule into conference play as a battle-tested group. In a wide-open league, the fresh new faces, led by Collins, make a surprise appearance in the championship game again.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: Losing a veteran backcourt to graduation becomes too much to overcome and the Bison finish outside the top four and land on the road for the playoffs.


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COLGATE RAIDERS

2021-2022 record: 6-24 

Conference record: 4-14 (9th seed in playoffs)

Head Coach: Ganiyat Adeduntan, 2nd season

Record at Colgate: 6-24 

Career NCAA record: 14-67 (6-24 at D1 Colgate and 8-43 at D3 Wheelock College)

Adeduntan heads into her second season in Hamilton. She spent four years as the recruiting coordinator at George Washington University. She helped the Colonials win an Atlantic-10 Conference championship in 2017-18.

Prior to George Washington, she spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Northeastern — her second stretch for the Huskies where she got her start on staff in college basketball as an administrative assistant from 2010-12. 

Between stints at Northeastern, Adeduntan gained college head coaching experience at the Division III level for Wheelock College in Boston from 2012-14.

KEY RETURNERS: (last season’s stats)

F-Sophia Diehl, 6’1, SO: 8.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 39.2% FG, 77.5% FT, 26.7 MPG, 26 GP, 12 starts

G-Taylor Golembiewski, 5’8, SO: 10.1 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, 31.8 MPG, GP 28, 28 starts

G-Morgan McMahon, 5’10, SO: 9.1 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 46 assists, 27.3 MPG, 30 GP, 18 starts

G-Alexa Brodie, 5’6, SR: 9.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.0 APG, 31.7 MPG, 26 GP, 26 starts

BIGGEST LOSSES: (last season’s stats)

F-Alexa Naessens, 6’1, SR: 1.6 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 38.2% FG, 11.4 MPG, 29 GP, 13 starts (graduated)

NEWCOMERS:

G-Christina Midgette, 6’0, (Princeton, NJ), FR: Scoring point guard who starred for Franklin High School. Posted 21.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game as a senior. Missed sophomore season due to injury.

F-Madison Schiller, 5’8, (Wyckoff, NJ), FR: Scored 1,557 points for Ramapo High School. Second-Team All-State as a senior. An athletic playmaker with excellent court awareness.

F-Nicole Parks, 6’0, (Fall River, MA), FR: Active small forward scorer. Played for St. George’s School in Rhode Island. A 1,000-point scorer and recognized as a NEPSAC Class B All-Star as a senior.

G-Lara Cook, 5’10, (St. Catharines, Ontario), FR: Shooting guard with three-point range. Posted 12.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists as a senior for King’s Christian Collegiate.

F-Chidinma Okafor, 6’4, (Santa Clarita, CA), SO: Transfer from D2 University of South Carolina-Aiken. Started 24 games last season for Aiken and averaged 12.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. She added 76 blocks.

G-Abbey Ferguson, 5’11, (Holmdel, NJ), FR: First-Team All-Division and Third-Team All-Shore selection for Holmdel High School in New Jersey. A do-it-all wing who can impact the floor on both ends.

OUTLOOK: Coach Ganiyat Adeduntan begins her second season with a young but talented group. Despite just six wins last year, the squad showcased a trio of gifted freshmen who gained valuable game experience.

Three of the team’s top four scorers were freshmen. Last season, guard Taylor Golembiewski led the way with 10.1 points per game on 38.3% shooting. Classmates Morgan McMahon (9.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and Sophia Diehl (8.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg) joined her to round out the emerging trio.

The Raiders showed a glimpse of their potential with big wins against eventual champion American 74-60, and a 64-61 road win versus Boston University.

The good news for Colgate fans? They return the team’s top five scorers and have landed a solid recruiting class that should give the squad the depth they lacked a season ago.

Senior point guard Alex Brodie (9.0 ppg, 3.0 apg) returns to provide the experience and leadership to push Colgate back into the top half of the league. Brodie was a freshman who started 28 games for the Raider team that went 19-11 in 2019-20.

The team is young but, in terms of talent in the starting line-up, Colgate will not be outpaced often season. They also have a favorable non-conference schedule and should head into conference play with a competitive rotation and the confidence that comes from grabbing several wins.

With the exception of Boston University and Lehigh, teams across the league are younger and less experienced this season — and there is plenty opportunity for teams with younger rotations to compete for a spot in the top half of the league. Keep an eye on the Raiders.

How does Colgate make a move?

An ascension for the Raiders has to start with improvement on the defensive end. The squad’s scoring defense was ninth in the league, allowing 63.1 points per game. Field goal percentage defense was last, allowing 42.3% conversion from the field.

In both scheme and execution, Colgate has to grow defensively.

On the offensive end of the floor, the Raiders head into the season with a balanced line-up that should be able to put pressure on opposing defenses both inside and out.

In the post, 6’0 junior forward Tiasia McMillan (7.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg) returns and is joined by a Division II transfer, 6’4 Chidinma Okafor from the University of South Carolina-Aiken, and junior six-footer Lindsay Blackmore.

While the offense struggled a season ago, producing just 53.9 points an outing and shooting 38.1%, it was just season one of new X’s and O’s for the Raiders. Expect improvement in scoring as the sophomore group benefits from a year of experience (58 starts combined as freshmen) and the arriving recruiting class provides depth of talent.

Colgate is well-positioned to make a move. Watch out for the team from Hamilton, they are a young but talented group. It’s time to shed the re-build buzzwords and compete to win the league.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Is it possible for the Raiders to compete for home court advantage in the quarterfinals of league playoffs? Yes. The best-case scenario is Colgate finds itself battling for a fourth-place finish and secures a home game for playoffs. A playoff win against an equally good five-seed? An upset win on the road in the semi-final? Very possible in a wide-open league this season.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: The team can’t get those early confidence-building wins in conference play and they spend the season fighting uphill and never get traction among the league contenders. They lose in the first round of the playoffs.

Junior Bronagh Power-Cassidy will play a key role for the Holy Cross Crusaders as they look to return to the top of the standings. Photo credit: Mark Seliger

HOLY CROSS CRUSADERS

2021-2022 record: 20-11

Conference record: 14-4 (1st seed in playoffs)

Head Coach: Maureen Magarity, 3rd season

Record at Holy Cross: 27-19

Career NCAA record: 173-173 (146-154 at D1 University of New Hampshire)

The third-year mentor has made a positive impact since her arrival in Worcester two seasons ago. Named Patriot League Coach of the Year last year, she’s brought stability back to the Hart Center.

Magarity previously led the University of New Hampshire for 10 seasons. Her tenure produced a mix of five winning seasons and five losing ones. In 2016-17, she led UNH to a first-place regular-season finish and a 26-6 record. She collected coaching honors that season from the America East and was named Kay Yow National Coach of the Year. 

Her Patriot League roots extend to a stint as assistant coach at Army from 2006-10.

KEY RETURNERS: (last season’s stats)

G-Bronagh Power-Cassidy, 5’10, JR: 8.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 43.2% FG, 28.5 MPG, 30 GP, 29 starts

F-Janelle Allen, 5’11, JR: 8.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 48.1% FG, 24.1 MPG, 31 GP, 29 starts

G-Cara McCormack, 5’3, JR: 7.8 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, 36.9% 3PT FG, 23.7 MPG, 20 GP, 1 start

G-Addisyn Cross, 5’7, SR: 4.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 37.6% FG, 29.8 MPG, 31 GP, 31 starts, 42 steals

BIGGEST LOSSES (last season’s stats)

G-Avery LaBarbera, 5’6, SR: 16.4 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 4.0 APG, team-high 62 made 3PT FGs, 36.3 MPG, 31 GP, 31 starts, Patriot League Player of the Year, First Team All-Patriot League, All-Defensive Team, She finished her career at holy Cross with 1,478 points and 660 rebounds (graduated, playing as a graduate transfer for Wisconsin)

F-Oluchi Ezemma, 5’11, SR: 8.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 52.1% FG, 21.0 MPG, 31 GP, 19 starts

NEWCOMERS:

F-Callie Wright, 6’1, (Markham, Ontario) SO: Transfer from the University of Memphis. Appeared in 14 games, making one start for the Tigers. Played 8.2 MPG, scoring 1.4 PPG and adding 1.7 RPG. Reached 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in her high school career at Bill Crothers Secondary School.

F-Meg Cahalan, 6’2, (Middletown, NJ) FR: Physical forward who can stretch the floor. Helped lead St. John Vianney to a state championship as a senior. Second-team All-Shore.

G-Kaitlyn Flanagan, 5’8, (Plymouth Meeting, PA) FR: Pass-first point guard who led Plymouth-Whitemarsh to a PIAA 6A state championship as a senior. Steady facilitator who can score at all three levels. Finished her high school career as her school’s all-time assist leader with 510 assists. Elite understanding of pace and timing; accurate passer.

G-Simone Foreman, 5’9, (Odenton, MD) FR: Athletic guard whose strength is attacking and finishing at the rim. Played for St. Andrew’s Episcopal. Named to the All-ISL team.

G-Mary-Elizabeth Donnelly, 6’0, (Manasquan, NJ) FR: Versatile wing with a strong presence on the defensive end. Won a state championship as a senior for Manasquan High School.

OUTLOOK: How do you replace Avery LaBarbera? The league’s Player of the Year had an incredible senior season, leading the Crusaders in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, and three-pointers made. She was also a big-time shot-maker and team leader. 

While LaBarbera has moved on as a graduate transfer to play for the University of Wisconsin, she leaves behind a legacy of competitive spirit and toughness that is reflective of the larger culture coach Magarity has been building since her arrival.

The good news? Although LaBarbera has moved on, that ethos remains.

The Crusaders return three starters from their regular rotation in Bronagh Power-Cassidy (8.9 ppg, 34.6% 3pt FG), Janelle Allen (8.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Addisyn Cross (31 starts). Offensive sparkplug Cara McCormack (7.8 ppg) returns as well and will help set the pace.

Those four upperclassmen will be counted on to keep the momentum from last season’s surprising run to a first-place finish in the regular season. Where will coach Magarity and staff find the rest of the rotation?

Expect to see some freshmen step into important roles for this year’s team. The contribution from last year’s freshman class was limited. The three returners from that group combined to score 3.2 points per game in just 43 appearances.

This year’s recruiting class is stronger and, similar to most teams around the league this season, freshmen will be seeing court time.

Holy Cross was an outstanding defensive team last season — and the group will need to lean on its ability to contest shots and get stops to have success. The Crusaders were second in the league in both points allowed (56.5 per game) and opponent’s field goal percentage (37.0%). 

The aggressiveness on the defensive end is the most impactful change Magarity has brought to the program on the court. The energy shift on that end of the floor was clear from day one. The value the coaching staff has placed on defense makes senior Addisyn Cross one of the most vital pieces to the puzzle in 2022-23.

Cross is an elite defender and recognized as a member 2021-22 Patriot League All-Defensive Team. Her offense improved as the season unfolded, scoring a season-high 13 points against Columbia in a first-round loss in the WNIT. She will be a key part of the Crusader season.

Holy Cross feasted on the teams with new coaches last season, posting a 7-1 mark against Boston University, Colgate, Loyola (MD) and Army. Can they keep that momentum as those programs develop and take advantage of the new mentors at both American and Lehigh this year?

The landscape of the league is shifting in the same way it did a season ago. If the Crusader freshmen can make an impact, expect Holy Cross to be in the mix for a top-four finish again this year.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: An emerging freshman class helps the Crusaders’ returners to a top-four spot and a first-round playoff game at home for the second straight year. This go-round, they advance to the semi-finals.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: The line-up can’t find consistent offensive production and the season rollercoasters through more downs than ups, taking some unexpected losses and falling to a spot in the lower half of the league. The team falls in its quarterfinal playoff match-up for the second consecutive year, this time on the road.

LAFAYETTE LEOPARDS

2021-2022 record: 12-18 

Conference record: 7-11 (7th seed in playoffs)

Head Coach: Kia Damon-Olson, 6th season

Record at Lafayette: 51-82

Career NCAA record: 51-82

Coach Damon-Olson enters her sixth season in Easton. She has 19 years of assistant coaching experience at the D1 level with stops at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Fairleigh Dickinson, UMass, Penn State, and Cincinnati. 

Damon-Olson has developed the Leopards into a consistently competitive team and improved the program’s recruiting profile.

KEY RETURNERS: (last season’s stats)

G-Makayla Andrews, 5’10, JR: 10.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 39.3% FG, 29.0 MPG, GP 30, 28 starts

G-Jessica Booth, 5’8, SR: 10.5 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.1 APG, 37.7% FG, team-high 31 steals, 31.0 MPG, 26 GP, 25 starts, Third Team All-Patriot League

G-Abby Antognoli, 5’7, SO: 9.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 30.9 MPG, 29 GP, 14 starts, Patriot League All-Rookie Team

BIGGEST LOSSES: (last season’s stats)

F-Makaila Wilson, 6’0, SR: 6.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 47.6% FG, 31.3 MPG, 30 GP, 30 starts (graduated)

F-Naomi Ganpo, 6’3, SR: 7.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 47.1% FG, 27.8 MPG, 30 GP, 30 starts (graduated)

G-Claire Gallagher, 5’11, FR: 6.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 36.5% 3PT FG, team-high 38 made threes, 23.5 MPG, 25 GP, 6 starts (transferred to D1 University of San Diego)

NEWCOMERS:

F-Emma Shields, 6’3, (Troy, NY), FR: A four-year starter at forward for the Emma Willard School. A 1,000-point scorer with guard skills, can be an effective stretch four.

G-Kay Donahue, 5’10, (Belle Mead, NJ), FR: Tough combo guard who played for Rutgers Prep and Montgomery High School in New Jersey. Good first step with effective pull-up jumper. First Team All Skyland Conference Raritan Division as a senior at Montgomery. Physical player with scorer’s mentality. A scoring threat at all three levels.

G-Sauda Ntaconayigize, 5’11, (Quebec, Canada), FR: Shooting guard with the length and basketball I.Q. to play inside-out. Three-point range. Good first step and effective attacking the paint. Played for Champlain College Saint-Lambert.

G-Halee Smith, 5’10, (Alexandria, PA), SO: Transfer from Quinnipiac University. Averaged 1.4 points per game in 24 appearances last season for the Bobcats, shooting 56.0% from the floor. Played for Juniata Valley High School where she was a three-time First-Team All-State selection.

OUTLOOK: Lafayette was picked sixth in the league’s preseason poll — the best of the second half of the conference. It seems a comfortable and familiar spot for the Leopards who finished seventh last season. Can they break into the top half this year?

The guard play is one reason to be optimistic. Despite losing sophomore sharpshooter Claire Gallagher to the transfer portal, coach Damon-Olson returns a trio of guards ready to make a charge.

Senior Jess Booth leads the way for the Leopards as both their leading returning scorer and playmaker. The Third Team All-Patriot League selection had a terrific junior season and is capable of stepping into a larger scoring role this year.

Booth is joined in the backcourt by scoring point guard Abby Antognoli whose creative attacks off the dribble make her one of the players to watch when the Leopards take the floor. 

Antognoli started 14 games in her freshman campaign and her production grew with her confidence down the stretch of the season. In the last eight games including playoffs, she scored 13.8 points per game. 

Also a key returner at guard is junior Makayla Andrews. She scored 10.4 points and grabbed 5.2 rebounds per game. She has big-game ability and notched 18- and 23-point outings, respectively, against Boston University and Lehigh in back-to-back games at the end of last season.

The big question for the Leopards comes in the post. They graduated forwards Naomi Ganpo (8.0 rpg) and Makaila Wilson (8.1 rpg). The duo’s rebounding ability and presence as rim protectors will be missed and it won’t be easy to fill their shoes. Can they find an answer down low? That may be just the key to a competitive season for the Leopards.

Coach Damon-Olson is now the longest-tenured mentor in the league. Two first-year coaches join the ranks this season while four made their league debut last season. Can the Lafayette staff take advantage of the changes and use its experience to its advantage?

The Leopards play some tough match-ups in their non-conference schedule: Virginia Commonwealth, Notre Dame and Columbia are all on the slate. They’ll have plenty of opportunity to work on finding a solution down low against these bigger teams. If they can come up with an answer, Lafayette will make a push into the top five in the league.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: The Leopards’ zone defense helps negate some of their size disadvantage and the squad grabs some wins against the top half of the conference. Booth and Antognoli team up in the backcourt to lead them to a fourth-place finish.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: Lafayette can’t slow teams down inside and the lack of consistent rebounding is an issue all season. They land with a bottom-three finish in conference play.

Senior Frannie Hottinger looks to lead Lehigh back to the top of the league under first-year Head Coach Addie Micir.
Photo credit: Hannahally Photography

LEHIGH MOUNTAIN HAWKS

2021-2022 record: 19-11 

Conference record: 11-7 (5th seed in playoffs)

Head Coach: Addie Micir, 1st season

Record at Lehigh: 0-0

Career NCAA record: 0-0

First time head coach with nine seasons as a D1 assistant coach. Five years as assistant with Dartmouth College, one season at Princeton, and three campaigns with Lehigh before being named head coach in April.

Played at Princeton and was named the Ivy League Player of the Year as a senior. A 1,000-point scorer for the Tigers and helped lead them to league titles in her junior and senior seasons.

KEY RETURNERS: (last season’s stats)

F-Frannie Hottinger, 6’0, SR: 11.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 39.9% FG, 20.9 MPG, 20 GP, 16 starts

G-Mackenzie Kramer, 5’9, JR: 15.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 44.9% FG, 40.3% 3PT FG, 95 made threes, 30.9 MPG, 30 GP, 30 starts, Second Team All-Patriot League

F-Meghan O’Brien, 6’1, SO: 4.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 43.1% FG, 20.0 MPG, 30 GP, 18 starts

BIGGEST LOSSES: (last season’s stats)

F-Emma Grothaus, 6’2, SR: 12.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 44.8% FG, 30.6 MPG, 30 GP, 30 starts (graduated, playing as a graduate transfer for University of Washington)

G-Megan Walker, 5’10, SR: 10.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 40.2% FG, 44 made 3pt FGs, 24.5 MPG, 28 GP, 28 starts (graduated)

G-Clair Steele, 5’5, SR: 4.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 5.5 APG, 35.3% FG, 27.9 MPG, 24 GP, 22 starts (graduated, playing as a graduate transfer for D1 St. Mary’s)

NEWCOMERS:

G-Kamara St. Paul, 5’9, (New Rochelle, NY) FR: Athletic wing. Played for New Rochelle High School. All-Conference as a senior.

G-Katie Hurt, 5’11, (Rochester, MN) FR: Playmaking guard from John Marshall High School. Excellent defender with the speed and quickness to make an impact on offense in an up-tempo style.

F-Lily Fandre, 6’1, (Eagan, MN) FR: Post scorer with ability to convert from three-point range. 1,000 point score for North Tartan High School where she also holds the record for blocked shots. Class 4A All-State Honorable Mention.

OUTLOOK: Lehigh will be led by a new head coach for the first time since 1995.

Sue Troyan stepped aside for a senior leadership role in the Lehigh Athletics Department after 32 years as head coach. Troyan finished with a 430-361 overall record and led the Mountain Hawks to four league titles.

Addie Micir moves over from the associate head coach spot to assume the lead role after three seasons on staff. What will the change mean for Lehigh this season?

Well, what won’t change is their philosophy about taking 3-pointers. Last season, they made a league-high 9.4 per game and converted at a 32.3% clip. They were ninth in the nation for three-point field goals attempted.

Lehigh has consistently placed in the top half of the conference and, under Micir’s guidance as coordinator of the offense, the team led the Patriot League in scoring, assists and 3-pointers made last year. The squad also ranked nationally in the top 10 for three-pointers made per game.

Don’t expect much change on the offensive end. But the Mountain Hawks sure have some shoes to fill in departing seniors Emma Grothaus (12.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg), Clair Steele (4.4 ppg, 5.5 apg) and Megan Walker (10.4 ppg).

Grothaus’ toughness and versality out of the post will be missed. Despite being named Second Team All-Patriot League after her senior season, she’s still one of the most underrated players to ever play in Bethlehem.

Sophomore forward Meghan O’Brien (18 starts, 4.8 ppg) will step into a larger role in the frontcourt. She had an excellent rookie campaign and her capacity to score in and around the paint will expand this season.

Keep your eye on newcomer Lily Fandre as the Mountain Hawks establish their post rotation.

O’Brien will be joined by small forward Frannie Hottinger in the line-up. The senior navigated injury last year but still managed to post 11.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. She was a Second Team All-Patriot League selection as a sophomore and recently named to the preseason All-Patriot League Team.  Expect a breakthrough season from Hottinger.

Lehigh might struggle to replace the leadership from the point position by Clair Steele. The motor behind Lehigh’s up-tempo game, Steele was an efficient and effective distributor on offense. She led the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio with a 3.97 ratio.

Look for senior Anna Harvey to step in at point guard. She made six starts as a junior and was third on the team with 55 assists in 14.2 minutes per game.

The program also returns its leading scorer in Mackenzie Kramer (15.9 ppg). The junior was named to the Second Team All-Patriot League squad after an incredible shooting season. She led the Patriot League in shooting at 44.9% from the floor and 40.3% from the three-point line. Kramer was ninth in the nation in three-pointers made.

Can the Mountain Hawks make a return to the conference championship game with a rookie coach at the helm? Absolutely. They have the offensive punch to keep a defense on its heels and the depth to go the distance. Lehigh is picked to finish second in the league’s preseason poll. 

BEST CASE SCENARIO: Kramer and Hottinger combine to form one of the best scoring duos in the league. The Mountain Hawks ride a high-seed right into the championship and shoot their way to a fifth title.

WORST CASE SCENARIODespite the familiarity and seamlessness of the coaching change, getting the puzzle pieces to fit takes more time than expected. Lehigh finishes in the middle of the pack and is ousted by a top seed in the semi-final round.

LOYOLA GREYHOUNDS

2020-2021 record: 5-24 

Conference record: 2-16 (10th seed in playoffs)

Head Coach: Danielle O’Banion, 2nd season

Record at Loyola: 5-24

Career NCAA record: 26-122

O’Bannon takes the Greyhounds into season number two under her direction. An experienced mentor, she brings 19 years of coaching experience at the Division I level with assistant coaching stops at Minnesota, Memphis, Kent State and Harvard.  She adds head coaching experience from a four-year run at Kent State from 2012-16. Her teams went 21-98 during her tenure.

As an assistant coach, O’Banion has helped her teams make five NCAA tournament appearances and one run to the Final Four.

KEY RETURNERS: (last season’s stats)

F-Lex Therien, 6’1, SO: 12.6 PPG, 10.9 RPG, team-high 41 steals, 44.7% FG, 30.8 MPG, 28 GP, 25 starts, All-Patriot League Second Team, Patriot League Rookie of the Year

G-Taleah Dixon, 5’10, GS: 10.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, team-high 38 made threes, 30.3 MPG, 29 GP, 29 starts

G-Devyne Newman, 5’8, GS: 4.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 44.1% FG, 19.6 MPG, 27 GP, 16 starts

G-Laura Salmeron, 5’8, SO: 9.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 31.0 MPG, 11 GP, 10 starts (missed second half of season due to knee injury)

BIGGEST LOSSES: (last season’s stats)

F-Charia Roberts, 6’0, JR:  6.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 42.8% FG, 25.4 MPG, 29 GP 20 starts (transferred to Coppin State)

NEWCOMERS:

G-Kelly Ratigan, 5’8, (South Bend, IN), FR: Physical point-guard with three-point shooting ability. Effective scorer and distributor in traffic with great court vision. A 1,000-point scorer for St. Joseph’s High School. Named First-Team All-Conference and MVP in the Northern Indiana Conference. Top-ten scorer in Indiana.

G-Meliah Van-Otoo, 5’4, (Drexel Hill, PA), FR: Athletic wing who played for the Westtown School in West Chester. Led her team to the Friends League Championship as a sophomore and senior. Won the PAISAA girls basketball championship as a senior.

F-Koi Sims, 6’0, (Glen Burnie, MD), SO: Transfer from the University of Albany. Appeared in 24 games last season, posting 1.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. Played three seasons for Archbishop Spalding High School and was a 1,000-point scorer. Averaged 14.2 points and 12.8 rebounds as a senior in 2020-2021.

G-Cristina Garcia, 5’9, (Sant Cugat Del Valles, Spain), FR: Playmaking guard who excels in a high-tempo game. Played for Femeni Cerdanyola, Femeni Sant Adria, ETA Thunder and the Catalonian Select Team.

G-Caroline Orza, 5’9, (Chevy Chase, MD), FR: Strong, physical guard who can hit the three. Decent mid-range game. Played for Bethesda Chevy Chase High School.

F-Marta Espinal, 5’11, (Castellnou De Bages, Spain), FR: Athletic wing whose strength is attacking off the dribble. Played club basketball in Spain for salle Manresa, Joviat and Manresa.

F-Ally Lovisolo, 6’1, (Allendale, NJ), FR: Forward who can stretch the floor with her three-point scoring ability. Capable scorer who is a threat inside and out. Played for Blair Academy.  

OUTLOOK: Loyola looks for a bounce-back season after a 2-16 conference performance in coach Danielle O’Banion’s first campaign. What’s the plan?

Coach O’Banion has made changes to reconstitute the roster. It’s been an off-season of personnel shake-ups with new faces on the way and some old ones out the door. 

Since January, seven Greyhound players have entered the transfer portal, including forward Charia Roberts who made 20 starts last season. She landed at Coppin State.

Junior forward Emily McAteer also transferred. She was on the Patriot League All-Rookie Team in 2020. McAteer now plays for D2 West Chester University.

This season, the team welcomes seven new faces: six recruits and one transfer from the University of Albany. O’Banion walked into a re-build and it’s going to take a few recruiting classes to see where things are headed.

What’s the biggest concern this season?

Scoring. On the court for the Greyhounds, they must grow their chemistry and develop their offense. The team was last in scoring in the league for the second consecutive season at 53.9 points per game and shot just 38.8% from the field.

Loyola dropped some heartbreakers last season, losing five games by four points or less. Can they turn the tables on other league teams this season?

A bright spot for the Greyhounds is the play of Lex Therien. The 6’1 forward had a fantastic freshman season, starting 25 games and leading the team in scoring (12.6 ppg) and rebounding (10.9 rpg). 

Therien was named Patriot League Rookie of the Year and one of five players highlighted on the preseason All-Patriot League Team. She’ll need some help to get things moving in the right direction. 

BEST CASE SCENARIO: The Greyhounds find enough wins to solidify team buy-in on X’s and O’s. The team becomes a more cohesive unit on the offensive end. A win in the first round of playoffs and a competitive quarterfinal game signals a bright future ahead.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: The Greyhounds can’t find any rhythm on offense and struggle to score. The losses mount and it takes a toll on the new team culture. They land in 10th place again.

Junior Sydne Watts will lead a young Navy team with eight newcomers for Head Coach Tim Taylor.
Photo credit: Phil Hoffmann

NAVY MIDS

2021-2022 record: 10-21 

Conference record: 5-13 (8th seed in playoffs)

Head Coach: Tim Taylor, 3rd season

Record at Navy: 15-28

Career NCAA record: 15-28

Taylor heads into his third season in Annapolis. He brings 12 seasons of experience as a D1 assistant coach with a two-year stop at Furman University (1998-2000), three stints at University of Virginia (2000-05, 2009-12, 2016-2018), and a season at the University of North Carolina (2019-20).

He led the Woodbridge High School girls’ basketball team to a 51-21 record and three district championships from 1995 to 1998. He guided the Orange County High School boys’ program to 40-12 record from 2005-07. Taylor also coached the boys’ team in Madison County to a 43-11 mark in two seasons, reaching the Virginia State Final Four in 2009.

KEY RETURNERS: (last season’s stats)

G-Sydne Watts, 6’0, JR: 9.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 37.3% FG, 29.9 MPG, 31 GP, 28 starts

F-Lindsay Llewellyn, 5’10, SR: 6.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 30.7% FG, 69.6% FT, 29.7 MPG, 27 GP, 23 starts

BIGGEST LOSSES: (last season’s stats)

G-Jennifer Coleman, 5’9, SR: 22.2 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 4.8 APG, 40.2% FG, 38.0 MPG, 31 GP, 30 starts, led team in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and three-pointers, All-Patriot League First Team (graduated)

G-Kristina Donza, 5’10, SO: 3.8 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 31.3% FG, 20.3 MPG, 29 GP, 18 starts (transferred to D2 Slippery Rock University)

F-Ciera Hertelendy, 6’0, SR: 3.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 37.1% FG, 19.5 MPG, 31 GP, 29 starts (graduated)

NEWCOMERS:

G-Shannon Clarke, 6’1, (Lawrence, KS), FR: Versatile and high-energy wing who can run the floor and handle the ball in transition. 1,000-point scorer for Lawrence Free State High School. Selfless screener and rebounder. Named 6A First Team All-State as a senior. Attended the Naval Academy Prep School during the 2021-22 academic year.

F-Gia Pissott, 6’3, (Toms River, NJ), FR: Talented forward who can score in the high- and low-post facing up or with her back to the basket. Three-point shooting range. Played for Toms River North High School. Named to New Jersey All-State Second Team as a senior. Twin sister will play at Tennessee.

G-Toni Papahronis, 6’1, (Edmond, OK), FR: A 1,000-point scorer for Edmond North High School. Savvy point guard who holds school record for career assists. Won 6A State Championship as a senior. Named to Class 6A All-State First team. 

F-Morgan Demos, 6’2, (Downers Grove, IL), FR: Physical and strong forward. Willing passer out of the post and effective distributor out of double-teams. Good low-post scorer. Led Benet Academy to four conference championships. IBCA Second Team All-State.

G-Maren Louridas, 6’0, (Delmar, NY), FR: Scoring wing with three-point range. Accurate shooter with a scorer’s mentality. Length and athleticism will impact both ends of the floor. Played for Bethlehem Central High School. Named New York State Class AA All-State Seventh Team as a senior.

F-Kate Samson, 6’4, (Richmond, VA), FR: Post scoring threat who reached 1,000-point mark for St. Gertrude High School. Effective facilitator out of the post. Excellent in transition. Solid rim protector. Twice named to the VISAA All-State Second Team.

G-Kelli Giuliani, 5’7, (Oakton, VA), FR: Efficient scorer with solid ball control and decision-making. Played for the Flint Hill School. Second-Team All-State. 

G-Bianca Coleman, 5’10, (Abington, PA), FR: Played for Gwynedd Mercy Academy. Named Class 4A Third Team All-State as a senior. High-motor, athletic point guard/wing.

OUTLOOKJennifer Coleman is not walking through that door.

Coleman put together a senior campaign for the record books last year. She led the Mids in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and three-pointers. She averaged 12.6 more points than the second-leading scorer on the team, Sydne Watts. And she hit a miracle three-pointer at the buzzer to knock out top-seed Holy Cross in the league playoffs. So how does Navy navigate the league schedule without her?

It won’t be easy.

The good news? After last season’s playoff buzzer-beater, this team believes anything can happen.

The Mids will need that positive attitude because the climb to have a winning season is going to be challenging. One thing is certain: youth will be served. Eight new players arrive in Annapolis this year, six recruits and two walk-ons.

Navy returns its second- and third-leading scorers and starters in Watts (9.6 ppg) and 5’10 forward Lindsay Llewellyn (6.4 ppg). Senior guards Mimi Schrader (10) and Imani Edmonds (9) also bring back some solid starting experience. But there are plenty of roles to fill and new recruits will need to step in.

Navy plays a favorable non-conference schedule that should help the freshman class gain both experience and confidence heading into conference play. 

It will be a season of growth for the young squad. Can a few months of growing pains turn a young Navy team into a tough out come playoff time? Don’t bet against Taylor’s team, even after a challenging regular season. Just ask Holy Cross.

BEST CASE SCENARIO: The Navy freshmen have an impact season and there is enough young depth to have a reliable rotation. The Mids earn a playoff win and the team sets the foundation for a future run back into the top half of the league.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: The learning curve for the new faces proves too much in year one and the team struggles to get wins. Navy sinks to the bottom of the conference and loses a first-round playoff game.

The Next SEASON PREDICTIONS:

Playoff seeding:

  1. Boston University
  2. Lehigh
  3. Army
  4. Bucknell
  5. Holy Cross
  6. Colgate
  7. Lafayette
  8. Navy
  9. American
  10. Loyola (MD)

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Written by Todd Goclowski

Todd Goclowski currently covers the Patriot League for The Next. Goclowski brings 25 years of coaching experience to his role as an analyst and writer, including 19 years of coaching women's basketball in the NCAA at the D1 and D3 levels.

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