ARLINGTON, Va. – Delaware, which returns all five starters from last year’s 31-2 squad, was selected to win the 2013 CAA Women’s Basketball title according to a vote of the league’s head coaches. The results of the poll were announced for Tuesday’s CAA Basketball Media Day at Champps-Pentagon Row in Arlington, Va.
The Blue Hens were followed in the voting by James Madison, Hofstra and Drexel. Old Dominion and Northeastern followed, while George Mason and UNCW tied for seventh. Towson and William & Mary tied for ninth, followed by Georgia State.
Delaware captured its first CAA championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament last year. Back to lead the Blue Hens is senior All-America guard/forward Elena Delle Donne, who led the nation in scoring (28.1 ppg) in 2011-12 and is on pace to become the all-time leading scorer in CAA history. She will be joined in the frontcourt by senior Danielle Parker (8.6 ppg), who ranked eighth in the CAA in rebounding (7.5 rpg). The Blue Hens’ backcourt is led by two-time All-CAA senior Lauren Carra (10.2 ppg), senior Trumae Lucas (6.8 ppg) and junior Akeema Richards (6.2 ppg). Senior Kayla Miller will also provide depth in the backcourt, while junior center Kelsey Buchanan will assist in the post.
James Madison advanced to the postseason for the seventh straight season in 2012 and reached the championship game of the WNIT. The Dukes welcome back four starters back from last year’s 29-8 squad. The backcourt includes a pair of All-CAA guards in Tarik Hislop, who topped JMU in scoring (14.8 ppg) and assists (3.5 apg), and Kirby Burkholder (11.5 ppg). The Dukes also return 2012 CAA Defensive Player of the Year Nikki Newman (5.8 ppg), who is the Dukes’ top returning rebounder (7.8 rpg), and redshirt senior guard Jasmine Gill (9.0 ppg). Sophomore Toia Giggetts (4.7 ppg) made a strong contribution last year for JMU’s frontcourt.
Hofstra finished 19-12 overall last season and made its fourth postseason appearance. The Pride returns a pair of senior starters in Shante Evans and Candace Bond. Evans, a two-time All-CAA first team and two-time honorable mention All-America honoree, ranked fourth in the league in scoring (19.2 ppg) and second in rebounding (10.5 rpg) last season. Bond (7.8 ppg/5.4 rpg) led the CAA in steals with 2.7 per outing. Sophomore guard Andreana Thomas (4.2 ppg) will step into the starting spot at point guard. Providing depth in the frontcourt are senior Deven Green (3.3 ppg) and junior Anma Onyeuku (3.3 ppg), while Annie Payton and Onyesonam Nolisa should contribute to the backcourt.
Drexel advanced to the second round of the WNIT last season and finished with a 19-14 overall record. The Dragons return two senior starters in Hollie Mershon and Taylor Wootton. Mershon, an excellent outside shooter, knocked down 56 treys a year ago and ranked ninth in the CAA in scoring with 14.5 ppg. Wootton averaged 7.2 points per game. They will be joined by junior guard Fiona Flanagan (4.1 ppg/2.4 rpg) in the backcourt. Senior forward Nicole Jones saw time in 28 games off the bench for the Dragons a year ago and led the team with 20 blocks.
The CAA is coming off an outstanding year in which the conference sent six teams to postseason play for the second straight year. This season, the league returns 60% of its starters and eight all-conference performers.
Delaware’s Delle Donne was selected as the CAA Preseason Player of the Year for the second straight season. She is joined on the preseason All-CAA first team by Hofstra’s Evans, JMU’s Hislop, Northeastern’s Deanna Kerkhof (14.4 ppg/3.8 rpg) and Drexel’s Mershon.
Voted to the preseason All-CAA second team were JMU’s Burkholder & Newman, UD’s Carra, William & Mary’s Emily Correal (13.2 ppg/8.5 rpg), and George Mason’s Amber Easter (12.0 ppg/7.0 rpg).
2012-13 CAA Women’s Basketball Predicted Order of Finish
2. James Madison
5. Old Dominion
7. George Mason
William & Mary
11. Georgia State