HAMDEN, Conn. - The Quinnipiac University women's basketball team has been selected to finish fifth in the Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll. The poll was announced by the league office Thursday morning in its annual preseason media teleconference. The Bobcats finished the 2008-09 season tied for third in the NEC standings with an 11-7 record in conference play and 18-11 overall. Defending champion Sacred Heart was tabbed first in the poll, receiving nine of the 12 first-place votes.
The Bobcats will benefit from a quartet of senior leaders in the 2009-10 season. Kathleen Neyens (Jaffrey, N.H.) will return as a fifth-year senior, bringing leadership and an inside-outside game to the floor. Neyens finished fourth on the team last season in points per game (7.7) and minutes per game (26.3). She will be accompanied by fellow seniors Sarah McGowan (Red Lion, Pa.), Krystal Lazos (Medford, N.J.) and Megan Barnum (Stormville, N.Y.).
The junior class will see a familiar face as Courtney Kaminski (Dudley, Mass.) will rejoin the Bobcats' lineup after missing all of last season with an injury. In 2007-08, Kaminski sparked Quinnipiac with 8.7 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game in nearly 22 minutes of action per contest before being injured in the NEC Tournament. Mia Picillo (Derry, N.H.), Alyssa Jann (Westford, Mass.), Lailah Pratt (Palmyra, N.J.) and Ashley Adams (Tolland, Conn.) will also help the Bobcats off the bench in the upcoming season.
Second-year members of the Bobcats will include Jacki Mann (Rutherford, N.J.), Jacinda Dunbar (Edison, N.J.), Brittany Capozziello (Fairfield, Conn.) and redshirt freshman Felicia Barron (Springfield, Mass.). Barron was limited to just eight games last season before sustaining a season-ending injury. In those eight games, Barron's defensive play and floor management helped Quinnipiac to a 7-1 mark. Coming off the bench in her first season, she averaged 7.0 points per game and had 19 steals, including tying a Quinnipiac Division I record with seven in the first game of the season at Stony Brook on Nov. 14.
Head Coach Tricia Fabbri has added a solid core of freshmen players for her 15th season on the Quinnipiac sidelines. Guards Lisa Lebak (Robbinsville, N.J.) and Ryann Simmons (Norwalk, Conn.) will compete for starting positions as the Bobcats graduated their three starting guards from a season ago. Shelby Sferra (LaGrangeville, N.Y.) will add depth at the forward position, while Robin Keke (Bowie, Md.) will spend the season learning the system before joining the Bobcats' front court as a true center.
Sacred Heart finished first after posting a perfect 18-0 conference record last and both the NEC Regular Season and Tournament Championships. Saint Francis (Pa.) finished second in the poll, receiving two first-place votes after a run through the NEC Tournament ended with a second-place finish. Central Connecticut and Robert Morris were third and fourth, respectively.
Quinnipiac placed fifth in the poll, followed by Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Mount St. Mary's, Long Island and NEC newcomer Bryant to round out the top 10 spots. Wagner and St. Francis (N.Y.) placed 11th and 12th to close out the final two places in the poll.
The Bobcats will open the 2009-10 season at the University of Hartford on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 4:30 p.m. The game can also be seen on the New England Sports Network (NESN) live from Chase Arena in West Hartford, Conn.