Marquette Golden Eagles
Overall Rank: #40
Conference Rank: #10 Big East
Just like its male counterpart, the Big East is perhaps the toughest conference in women's basketball. Ten teams from this league make up our top-44 projections, beginning with this Milwaukee-based university that is rich in tradition in both the men's and women's games. Head coach Terri Mitchell has built a women's program with a strong foundation, and it has paid off very well with nine 20-win seasons, 13 postseason appearances and a 296-171 overall record. Already, Golden Eagle fans are circling the November 19 game against Georgia Tech, because Mitchell could pass the 300-win mark with a victory in this game. It may be later in the season, as the early games could be difficult with the loss of a lot of talent.
2010-11: 24-9, 13-3
2010-11 Postseason: NCAA (lost in second round to Tennessee, 79-70)
Coach: Terri Mitchell, 296-171
Who's Out: No doubt the biggest loss of all will be 5-8 guard Angel Robinson, who became the first player in school history to amass 1,500 points, 500 assists and 250 steals in her career. She was drafted with the 22nd overall selection by the New York Liberty but ended up with a one-year deal to play overseas in Turkey. With a career 1,699 points, the team will be hard pressed to replace that kind of scoring leadership. Also gone are Tatiyiana McMorris, who scored 12.6 points per game last season, and Paige Fedorowicz, who had 10.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last year. Did we mention Jasmine Collins is also gone? She was the fourth-leading scorer at 9.2 points per game. All told, the Golden Eagles must replace 46 points per game in the scoring column.
Who's In: There are six freshmen on a roster full of first and second-year players. Mitchell brought in three centers to vie for the starting job, including 6-5 Chelsie Butler, 6-4 Lauren Tibbs and 6-3 Apiew Ojulu. The other three freshmen are all guards, 5-10 Cristina Bigica, 5-6 Margeaux Dupuy and 5-10 Arlesia Morse. None of these players were recruited from around Wisconsin, which means Mitchell was on the road a lot with her assistants.
Who to Watch: With the loss of all of that talent, the cupboard appears bare, and it could be. As the lone junior on the team, scoring and overall leadership responsibility will fall on junior Sarina Simmons. A product of Rufus King High School in Milwaukee, Simmons has Milwaukee behind her and she should see a marked increase in minutes and on-court responsibilities. Simmons averaged 7.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game a year ago, but her 46 blocked shots were a huge part of Marquette’s front-court success.
Final Projection: This could be a rough year for Mitchell and the Golden Eagles. Then again, who knows? If these six freshmen quickly gel and form a big part of the scoring and rebounding, it could be a strong season for Marquette. Then again, teams generally don’t lose 46 points per game year in and year out and succeed unless their names are Connecticut, Tennessee, Stanford or Notre Dame. Stay tuned for what could be an interesting season in Milwaukee.
Of the 15 games Marquette plays before Big East time begins, the big two will be games against Wisconsin (November 15) and Notre Dame (December 7). The conference will be bruising once again with nine teams that have projected higher rankings in the conference going up against Marquette. That could make the Golden Eagles stronger in the end.
Projected postseason tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Lineup:
Sarina Simmons, Forward, Junior, 7.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game
Katherine Plouffe, Forward, Sophomore, named to Big East All-Freshman Team
Gabi Minix, Guard, Sophomore, played 14 minutes a game last year
Arlesia Morse, Guard, Freshman, DNP last season
Lauren Tibbs, Center, Freshman, DNP last season