Dishin & Swishin 11/13/14 Podcast: The roundtable returns to preview the 2014-15 NCAA DI season
It starts in November and ends in April with one team cutting down nets in Tampa! Finally, the NCAA women’s basketball season begins tomorrow.
On this week’s Dishin & Swishin podcast, we welcome in the season with the annual preseason preview roundtable. The participants in this year’s discussion are:
- LaChina Robinson, ESPN commentator
- Doug Feinberg, Associated Press
- Cindy Brunson, Pac-12 Networks
There is a lot to discuss, as it should be a very interesting season for many reasons!
Start at the top, can Connecticut three-peat, and keep almost everyone’s preseason Player of the Year Breanna Stewart on course to achieve her goal of four years at UConn and four national titles? This is a different group of Huskies though, with their leaders Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley gone to the WNBA. In their place are players that are unproven or inexperienced. Still, they do possess three of the top players in the country in Stewart, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, and Moriah Jefferson so no one is shedding tears for Geno Auriemma yet.
UConn is not the only highly-rated program that lost key players, but high hopes still exist; in fact, it is a bit of a theme this season.
Notre Dame lost Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa to graduation. Duke lost guards Chelsea Gray and Tricia Liston to graduation, and Alexis Jones first to injury and then transfer to Baylor. Speaking of Baylor, how do the Bears replace guard Odyssey Sims? Maryland lost Alyssa Thomas, and moves to the Big Ten conference, while Louisville has to replace Shoni Schimmel while adjusting to the ACC.
Then there is that upstart SEC program that will not be under the radar any longer. Dawn Staley has changed the culture at South Carolina; the football school is now women’s basketball crazy. Like UConn, South Carolina has three of the top returning players in the country in Tiffany Mitchell, Aleighsa Welch, and Alaina Coates, plus one of the top incoming freshman in A’ja Wilson. Circle February 9, 2015 on your calendars: South Carolina at Connecticut.
Along with Wilson, there is no doubt youth will be served this year. UConn guard Kia Nurse spent her summer vacation playing with the Canadian National team and will be relied upon immediately. Notre Dame’s freshman forward Brianna Turner is another athletic puzzle piece for Muffet McGraw to insert at Notre Dame, Cal’s Gabby Green, and Texas A&M’s 6-5 Khaalia Hillsman are just a few freshmen that can impact the season.
Along with Coates, Maryland’s Lexie Brown, Baylor’s Nina Davis, Lindsay Allen at Notre Dame, and Allisha Gray at North Carolina these players are just a few of the super sophomores to watch this season. On the West Coast look out for Washington’s Kelsey Plum, while Stanford turns to Lili Thompson to ease the transition to a guard-centric offense.
South Carolina’s Mitchell, Notre Dame’s Jewell Loyd, UConn’s Stewart and Jefferson, Texas A&M’s Courtney Walker, Rachel Theriot of Nebraska, and Bria Holmes of West Virginia are just a few of the top juniors.
If you’re looking for WNBA draft prospects, watch seniors Mosqueda-Lewis (UConn), Elizabeth Williams (Duke), Isabelle Harrison (Tennessee), Rachel Banham (Minnesota), Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray (both from Cal) and Nneka Enemkpali (Texas).
Across the country, there are players to see, and conference battles to watch. While at the very top it may be UConn from the American Athletic conference, a look at ESPN’s preseason Top 25 rankings has each major conference well represented: the SEC has six team, ACC five, Big Ten four, Big 12 four, and Pac-12 three teams, respectively. The Big East and Atlantic 10 each have one representative. The race will be on to see which conference gets the most teams in the tournament and can make the claim of “best conference in the country.”
Don’t sleep on those mid-majors either! Remember what Brigham Young did in the tournament last year? There always seems to be a couple of teams that crash the party from those conferences, and this year should be no exception. Dayton is already ranked. Perennially strong teams like Marist, Gonzaga, and Green Bay are always tough, while George Washington and Western Kentucky can surprise people. Look out for players like Central Michigan’s Crystal Bradford and Dayton’s Andrea Hoover, plus high scoring guards Kelsey Minato from Army and Damika Martinez of Iona.
This week the roundtable discusses all of your favorite topics, including the top teams in the country and conferences, which conferences are stronger than others, stars and upstart players to watch, the injury bug biting so many teams this year (notably Ohio State) so early, some of the new coaches and how coaches are impacting programs all over the country, the rise of South Carolina, and of course, what makes UConn the early favorite to repeat.
A fun discussion, and the roundtable is as lively as ever! Enjoy the podcast.
*Click here to subscribe to the podcast with your feed reader or podcast app