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#CAAHoops Women’s Tip-Off Notes – Nov. 9

Nov 9, 2012, 11:26 AM EST

CAA 4-1-1:
•    Delaware was voted the preseason favorite in the CAA, while James Madison followed with Hofstra and Drexel.
•    The CAA welcomes UNCW’s Adell Harris, the new head coach of the Seahawks.
•    The CAA Women’s Basketball Championship will return to the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Maryland in 2013 for the third straight season.
•    Delaware opens the season ranked in both the AP (#11) and USA Today Polls (#10).
•    Four CAA squads ranked in the Mid-Major Poll, with Delaware receiving the top spot with 29 first place votes.  James Madison, Hofstra and Drexel were also ranked.

CAA IN THE TOP 25: The Delaware Blue Hens are ranked in both preseason polls.  Delaware was ranked by the Associated Press at 11th, while the USA Today Coaches Poll ranked the Blue Hens 10th heading into the first contest of the season. Delaware opened the 2011-12 and 2010-11 seasons receiving votes in the AP Poll, but this would mark the first time in program history that the Blue Hens are ranked in the preseason. The Blue Hens were ranked in the AP Top 25 for 16 weeks during their record-setting season a year ago. UD went undefeated (18-0) in league play and claimed the conference tournament title in 2012. Delaware, which finished last season with a 31-2 record, climbed as high as seventh in the national rankings and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round following its first postseason win in school history, returns all five starters for its highly-anticipated 2012-13 season.

AP ALL-AMERICAN HONORS: Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne was a unanimous choice on the Associated Press women’s basketball preseason All-America team, receiving all 40 votes from a national media panel. Delle Donne becomes the first player from a non-BCS conference to earn preseason All-America honors since Amanda Wilson of Louisiana Tech in 1998-99.

DELLE DONNE, EVANS NAMED CANDIDATES FOR SENIOR CLASS AWARD: Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Hofstra’s Shante Evans, join CAA’s men’s basketball standout Jonathan Lee from Northeastern on the initial list of candidates. Delle Donne is studying early childhood education and has excelled on the court as well as in the community.  Evans, a history major, is entering her final year with the Pride with 1,618 career points and 992 career rebounds, edging fifth and second all-time for HU, respectively. The selection will be narrowed down to 10 male and 10 female finalist midway through the regular season.

FOUR CAA WBB TEAMS RANKED IN COLLEGEINSIDER.COM MID-MAJOR POLL: Delaware earned 29 first place votes and was ranked No. 1 in the CollegeInsider.com preseason edition of the mid-major poll, while James Madison will open the new year ranked #6. Hofstra, ranked 23, and Drexel, following at 24, were CAA members among the top 25. William & Mary was among the teams receiving votes. The women’s Mid-Major Top 25 is comprised of teams from the following conferences: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt, West Coast Conferences.

RETURNING AWARD WINNERS: Eight of the 16 players who received all-conference honors in 2011-12 return this season. Back from the All-CAA first team are Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Hofstra’s Shante Evans, who each earned All-America accolades. Three of the CAA All-Defensive team members will return, including CAA Defensive Player of the Year Nikki Newman of JMU. All but one member of the All-CAA third team is back. CAA teams also return 60% of their starters from a year ago. Delaware, for the second straight year, welcomes back its entire starting lineup, while James Madison and William & Mary each have four regulars returning.

ENCORE, ENCORE: Twenty of the CAA’s top 30 scorers from last season are back in 2012-13, as are 12 of the top 20 in rebounding and eight of the top 12 in assists. Delaware senior forward/guard Elena Della Donne led the nation in scoring with 28.1 points per game, while Hofstra’s Shante Evans was ranked 15th nationally in rebounding (10.5 rpg) and returns as the league’s top rebounder.

DELLE DONNE WATCH LIST: Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne was named to the 2012-13 Preseason Wade Watch list of candidates for the prestigious award in September. The senior forward/guard was one of 25 preseson candidates.  The preseason list is composed of top NCAA Division I women’s basketball players who best embody Wade’s spirit from 18 institutions and eight conferences. A committee of coaches, administrators and media from across the United States compiled the list using the following criteria: game and season statistics, leadership, character, effect on their team and overall playing ability.

2013 CAA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP: The CAA Women’s Basketball Championship will return to The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., for the third straight season in 2013. The teams played in front of 8,100 fans during the 2012 four-day event (2011 – 7,727).

TV EXPOSURE: The CAA saw a record-best of a 43 games on television last season, including three televised games during the CAA championship. All 12 teams will made at least one television appearance during the 2011-12 season. The CAA women’s basketball television package has aired over 20 games for the last four seasons. The CAA also enjoyed a record amount of exposure through new media efforts.

UNCW HIRES ADELL HARRIS AS WBB HEAD COACH: Former Wake Forest standout and current Tusculum College head coach Adell Harris has been named the 10th coach in UNCW’s women’s basketball history. Harris, 31, takes over the Seahawk program after a successful three-year stint as head coach of the Pioneers, guiding the NCAA Division II school to a 61-30 overall record, back-to-back Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament championships (2010 & 2011) and three straight appearances to the NCAA Tournament. Harris replaces Cynthia Cooper-Dyke who resigned to take a head coaching position at Texas State University. Cooper-Dyke posted a 44-22 overall record, including a school-record 24 victories in 2010-11, and back-to-back trips to the postseason.

DELAWARE, OLD DOMINION SELECTED TO HOST 2013 NCAA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL POSTSEASON ROUNDS:  The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee has announced the selections of the first and second-round as well as regional sites for the 2013 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship. Delaware, located in Newark, Del., received a first and second-round games in 2013. Old Dominion, located in Norfolk, Va., was selected as a host for a Regional Site. ODU has hosted the NCAA tournament 22 total times, including five Regionals – most recently in 2004. Dates for the events will be determined in June 2012.

CAA IN THE POSTSEASON: In 2011-12, it was the third straight year at least six teams advanced to the postseason and the seventh consecutive season more than three have earned a postseason invitation. It was also the 12th consecutive season the CAA had a representative in the WNIT, as the CAA was just one of three conferences to see five teams in the postseason tournament. The Pac-12 and Atlantic 10 also saw five conference teams advance to the postseason event.

2012 FLASH BACK — CAA AT NO. 7 IN RPI RANKING – SIX CAA SQUADS IN TOP 100, INCLUDING DELAWARE AT NO. 8: The CAA completed the 2011-12 season ranked seventh among the nation’s 32 Division I conferences in women’s basketball according to the RPI report compiled by Collegiate Basketball News. Delaware, which finished the non-conference season ranked at No. 1, ended up at No. 8 in the team RPI ranking, as the first of six CAA teams in the Top 100. James Madison (29) is the only other CAA schools that are listed in the Top 50. Drexel (65), Hofstra (76), UNCW (82) and VCU (95) round out the CAA teams in the Top 100.

DELAWARE (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
•    #11/10 Delaware will open the new season in the WNIT preseason event as they host Sam Houston State. The Blue Hens are guarenteed at least three games during the preseason tournament.
•    The Blue Hens, who posted a 31-2 overall mark last year, look to make new historical marks this year behind All-American Elena Delle Donne (CAA Preseason Player of the Year). The senior led the nation a year ago pouring in 28.1 points per game and ranked eighth in the nation in shooting percentage from the free throw line at 88.9%.
•    UD is the favorite to win the CAA title in March 2013 after posting a perfect 18-0 mark in conference play last season and returning all five starters back from last year’s magical team.
•    Delaware’s preseason ranking is the first in program history as the Blue Hens have received votes in preseason polls before, but never ranked.
• With a win over Sam Houston State, the Blue Hens would face the winner of the Georgetown/Sacred Heart winner on Sunday, Nov. 11.

DREXEL (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
•    Drexel will look to continue the momentum from last season’s 19-14 run in which the Dragons advanced to the second round of the postseason WNIT.
•    All-CAA second team selection Hollie Mershon returns for the Dragons as DU’s leading scorer after ranking 9th in the league averaging 14.5 ppg. She also dished out a team-best 108 assists a year ago.
•    The Dragons ranked 7th nationally averaging just 12.7 turnovers per game and Mershon is one of the top-5 returning CAA players in assist/turnover ratio (1.1).
•    Taylor Wootton (7.2 ppg) shot a team-best 86.1 percent from the free-throw line and ranked 2nd on the team with 15 blocked shots last season.
•    The Dragons open the season at Providence on Nov. 9, before reuturing to Philadelphia for their home opener on Nov. 14 against cross-town rival Saint Joseph’s.

GEORGE MASON (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
•    George Mason returns three starters to the Patriots’ squad which has the potential to make a move up the CAA standings after finishing 15-16/8-10 CAA a year ago.
•    Amber Easter, the team’s top returning scorers and rebounder, led the Patriots in scoring five times a year ago, including a career-high 22 against Northeastern at the CAA Tournament.
•    Rahneeka Saunders started in all 31 games for the Patriots last season and led the team with 125 assists ranking fifth in the league
•    George Mason ranked second in the league in 3-points field goal percent (.339) a year ago and return a majority of those long-range shooters.
•    The Patriots will tip-off the new season on the road at Oakland on Nov. 9, before returning home for a Nov. 13 contest against UMES.

GEORGIA STATE (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
•    The Panthers have a veteran nucleus returning as six letterwinners who played in all 30 games a year ago are back.
•    Kendra Long is the team’s top returning scorer after averaging 10.5 points per outing. She also is the first Panther in GSU history to have back-to-back 50 plus three-point seasons.
•    Cody Paulk is one of the league’s top defenders around the basket after ranking second in the CAA with 1.9 blocks per game and just needs 33 more blocks for the GSU school record (166), which would also put her in the CAA top 10.
•    Georgia State will open the season with a pair of road contests including its second outing at Florida, which finished at 36 in the RPI rankings last year.

HOFSTRA (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
•    Hofstra advanced to the postseason for the fourth time since the 2005-06 season and will look to build off last year’s 19-12 campaign.
•    Shante Evans, a two-time All-American and three-time All-CAA honoree, is the Pride’s top returning scorer with 19.2 points per game and rebounder with 10.5 rpg. Over Evans’ three years with Hofstra, she has shot over 50 percent from the field.
•    Candace Bond, who averaged 7.8 ppg and 5.4 rpg last season, completed her junior campaign by pouring in a career-high 18 points against Harvard in the WNIT.
•    Sophomore guard Andreana Thomas (4.2 ppg) will step into the starting spot at point guard as the Pride graduated Candice Bellocchio, who led the league in assists in her final two seasons.
•    The Pride will face nine teams during its non-conference schedule that had a 2011-12 RPI of 126 or better, including five in the top 66.  Hofstra opens the season at the WBI Classic this weekend.

JAMES MADISON (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
•    James Madison will look to continue the momentum from last year’s 29-8 season, in which head coach Kenny Brooks guided the Dukes to the championship game of the WNIT.
•    The Dukes return four starters, led by All-CAA guard Tarik Hislop. She is the team’s top returning scorer after pouring in 14.8 points per game
•    Kirby Burkholder added 11.5 ppg a year ago and will also be a strong contender for the Dukes.
•    JMU also welcomes back reigning 2012 CAA Defensive Player of the Year Nikki Newman, who helped the Dukes rank among one of the CAA’s top defensive teams, and Jasmine Gill, who added 9.0 points per game.
•    The Dukes open the 2012-13 season at in-state rival Virginia and will play eight non-conference teams with a 2011-12 RPI of 111 or better, including three in the top 50.
•    Brooks has led the Dukes to the postseason for seven straight seasons, including three trips to the NCAA tournament.

UNCW (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
•    UNCW welcomed new head coach Adell Harris this summer and she will take over a UNCW team that returns three starters from last year’s 20-13 squad that advanced to the postseason for the second straight year.
•    The Seahawks will be led by senior forward Karneshia Garrett, who is the team’s top returning player after averaging 9.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
•    Jessica Freeman returns after leading the CAA in three-point field goal shooting (41.1%).
•    Tawanna Lee started in all 33 games during her first season with the Seahawks a year ago and tied Garrett in scoring with 9.8 points per game.
•    UNCW will open the season with three road games including match ups at West Virginia and Harris’ alma mater, Wake Forest, where she paced the Demon Deacons with 108 assists during her senior season.

NORTHEASTERN (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
•    Northeastern overcame a slow start to win four of its final six contests in 2011-12, and the Huskies appear ready to build on that success with seven returning letterwinners and five newcomers.
•    All-CAA guard Deanna Kerkhof led the Huskies in scoring with 14.4 points per game as a junior and scored a career-high 29 points in a win over William & Mary on Jan. 29.
•    Jewel Tunstull led the league in field goal percentage, while shooting 58.6 percent in 28 contests.
•    The Huskies will welcome back Kashaia Cannon to the court after having to sit a year due to injury. She contributed nearly 11 points a game in 2010-11.
•    Northeastern will open the season with teams with strong RPI numbers at the completion of the 2011-12 season, including Eastern Michigan (57), Temple (52) and Boston University (77).

OLD DOMINION (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
•    Old Dominion returns three starters, and has added five newcomers as head coach Karen Barefoot begins her second season at the helm of the Lady Monarchs.
•    Senior guard Jackie Cook is the squad’s top returning scorer (9.9 ppg) and rebounder (4.5 rpg).
•    Sophomore guard Ashley Betz-White added 8.1 ppg and will couple with Cook to provide a strong presence in the backcourt for ODU.
•    Mairi Buchan, a two-time CAA All-Academic first team honoree, started 17 of 32 games as a junior for the Lady Monarchs averaging 7.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
•    The Lady Monarchs, who have made 25 trips to the NCAA and two the WNIT, will look to advance to postseason play this season. Old Dominion is one of the four hosts of the 2013 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Regional Round in March

TOWSON (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
•    Towson is coming off a solid 16-14 campaign last season, which was its best overall record since 2008-09.
•    Head coach Joe Mathews graduated four strong contributors from last season but is building around a pair of returning starters and eight underclassmen.
•    Tanisha McTiller secured a spot in the starting line-up last season and finished as the team’s second-leading scorer with 11.1 points per game, while leading the Tigers in steals with 48.
•    Nyree Williams led the team with 7.0 rebounds per game, ranking 11th in the CAA, and added 1.6 blocks per outing for the sixth-best mark in the league.
•    The Tigers will close out the non-conference season with four home contests in December before opening CAA action on Jan. 6 at Drexel.

WILLIAM & MARY (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
•    Head coach Debbie Taylor  enters her 14th season at the helm of William & Mary. She welcomes back 11 letterwinners, including four senior starters – including three who averaged at least 10 points per game a year ago.
•    The Tribe is armed with the league’s top threat behind the three-point line in Janine Aldridge.  She led the CAA by sinking a W&M single-season 92 treys a year ago and ranked third in the league in three-point shooting percentage (.395) and steals (2.6 spg).
•    Preseason All-CAA honoree Emily Correal ranked eighth in the CAA in free throw shooting at 75.4 percent to help the Tribe at the line, while Jaclyn McKenna shot 51.8 percent from the field ranking third in the league in field goal percentage.
•    The Tribe welcomes assistant coach Beth Bradley back to the CAA as she previously was the Old Dominion Director of Basketball Operations for the 2010-11 season.