The Bryant University Bulldogs were tabbed to finish ninth in the annual NEC women’s basketball coaches preseason poll on Oct. 23.
Bryant has high hopes for the 2012-13 season as they return four starters from last year’s squad. They will also count heavily on the six freshmen that make up their 2012 recruiting class. The Bulldogs, who finished their NCAA mandated four year transition period last year after moving to Division I in 2008, are eligible for postseason play for the first time this season.
The four returning starters are 6-0 junior forward Naana Ankoma-Mensa, 5-8 senior guard Danielle Douglas, 5-4 senior guard Katie Whittington and 5-11 senior guard Meredith Soper. Those four accounted for 56% of the Bulldogs’ 61.6 points a year ago.
Ankoma-Mensa led the squad in scoring and rebounding in 2011-12. She averaged 12.4 points and 9.6 rebounds a game last season. Douglas, who was second on the team in scoring, averaged 11.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Whittington (10.6 ppg, 3.7 apg) and Soper (9.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg) were third and fourth on the team in scoring, respectively.
Other key returnees include 5-6 junior guard Jenniqua Bailey (7 ppg. 1.9 apg), 5-10 junior guard Stephanie Cardamone (3.9 ppg) and 5-9 junior guard Courtney Schissler (6 ppg, 2.9 rpg).
6-2 forward Emma Sobieraski, who was named among the top-50 high school players New York last year, and 6-1 forward/center Christina Cretella are the crown jewels of the Bulldogs’ freshmen class. 5-10 guard Dani Anderson, 5-8 guard Tiersa Winder, 5-11 guard Breanna Rucker and 6-2 center Maureen Leahy fill out the rest of the 2012 recruiting class.
Bryant opens the regular season at home against Dartmouth on Nov. 10.
2012-13 NEC preseason coaches poll
2. Sacred Heart
4. St. Francis (PA)
5. Robert Morris
6. LIU Brooklyn
7. Mount St. Mary’s
8. Central Connecticut
10. Fairleigh Dickinson
11. St. Francis (NY)