The Central Connecticut women's basketball team was picked to finish ninth in the annual preseason poll of Northeast Conference coaches. The Blue Devils finished last season with a 19-11 record and reached the NEC Tournament Semifinals for the third straight season, but also lost four talented seniors to graduation.
Two-time defending champion St. Francis (PA) was selected as the preseason favorite in a wide open poll. The Red Flash received four first place votes. Robert Morris, Long Island, Monmouth and Sacred Heart filled the next three spots of the poll, with the Hawks and Pioneers finishing in a tie for fourth. All four of those teams received a pair of first place votes.
Quinnipiac was sixth followed by Fairleigh Dickinson, Bryant, Central and Wagner. Mount St. Mary's and St. Francis (NY) filled the bottom two spots in the poll. A link to the complete NEC preseason release can be found below.
Jess Babe spent most of last season as the Blue Devils sixth woman, coming off the bench, but still averaging 21 minutes per game. She also started the final six regular season games, averaging 7.2 points/game as Central went 5-1 to close NEC play.
Daamen started 15 of Central's 30 games last season at Center. A strong presence under the basket, she recorded 33 blocks last season. For her career she is now fifth on Central's all-time list.
Preseason Coaches' Poll
First place votes in parentheses ().
Jaclyn Babe joined the Blue Devils as a transfer last season and after sitting out the year she is ready to contribute as a junior. Babe played two season at Duquesne she scored 191 points and made 133 assists in 60 games for the Dukes.
The 2011-12 roster will feature eight returning players and four freshman. In addition to Daamen, Jess and Jaclyn Babe, senior Rachel Chandler, juniors Brook Bailey and Jameilia Dillon, and sophomores Lauren Arbogast and Jaleen Thomas will see time on the court. Freshmen Kaley Watras, Johnna Fisher, Amanda Harrington and Danielle Davis will all look to contribute on the floor for the Blue Devils.
Fifth year Coach Beryl Piper is excited about her young squad heading into the final week of preseason practice. "These kids have a goal and they are on a mission," Piper said. This group is not concerned about where they were picked in the preseason poll. They are motivated to prove themselves on the court this season."
The women's basketball program is 49-43 over the last three season's under coach Piper. The Blue Devils have been even better in NEC play during that time, winning 31 of 54 games.
The Blue Devils open the 2011-12 season against Maine in Detrick Gym on Friday, November 11. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.