Women’s Basketball: Wildcats ranked No. 19 in AP preseason poll

Khadrice Rollins, Sports Editor

Women’s Basketball

Preseason praise continues to rain down on the Wildcats.

In the AP Top 25 Preseason Rankings released on Tuesday, Northwestern was voted the No. 19 team in the nation.

The Cats are coming off a season in which they won 20 games for the first time in 19 years and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 18 years. Coach Joe McKeown said the success from last season is what is causing the love for the Cats in the polls.

“Preseason polls are a byproduct of the success we had last year,” he said. “It’s good for us. It’s good as long as you keep it in perspective. I think that’s the biggest thing.”

NU has already garnered recognition in a few other rankings as well. The USA Today Coaches Poll marked the Cats at No. 24, and Athlon Sports pegged them as the 12th best team in the country.

The return of four starters and the top five leading scorers most likely played a role in NU’s rankings.

Junior forward Nia Coffey led the team with 15.7 points per game and nine rebounds per game last season and earned a spot on the All-Big Ten First Team. She also made this year’s preseason all-conference team.

Junior guard Ashley Deary was also acknowledged by the conference and made the All-Defensive Team and was All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. Senior guard Maggie Lyon joined Deary on the Honorable Mention roster, and is also third in program history in career three-pointers. Add in junior guard Christen Inman and senior forward Lauren Douglas who each averaged double-figures in scoring last year, and there is plenty of proven talent on the roster.

McKeown noted how returning stars can sway the voters, but also how it feels to coach a roster with more skill.

“If you lost three or four starters, it would probably be the other way,” McKeown said.

The Cats will have the chance to prove whether or not their ranking is deserved early in the season. They hit the road on Dec. 2 to take on North Carolina who is ranked No. 22 by the AP.

NU’s season kicks off on Nov. 15 at home against Howard, and McKeown said the squad is eager to get out there.

“People think you’re one of the best teams in the country, go out and prove it,” he said. “Players, this time of the year, they want to play.”

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