Editor's Note: The BIG EAST will be previewing both the men's and women's team from each BIG EAST member each weekday from October 22 to November 9 in advance of the 2012-13 season. Use hashtag #BECountdown to join the conversation on Twitter.
Syracuse Orange Women's Basketball
The Big Picture:
Syracuse is coming off its fifth-straight postseason appearance in 2011-12, going 22-15 and advancing to its first WNIT semifinals. SU ranked second in the NCAA in rebounding in 2011-12 (46.2 per game) and 11th in rebounding margin (+8.9). In the BIG EAST, the Orange led in rebounds per game, offensive rebounds per game (20.1) and was second in margin. Seventh-year head coach Quentin Hillsman coached his 200th game in the 2011-12 finale. He is 120-80 (.600) and became the fastest to 100 wins in SU history (165 games). He is 11-5 in postseason games.
The Orange return four starters and eight of their nine top scorers. Guards Rachel Coffey, Elashier Hall, Camen Tyson-Thomas and center Kayla Alexander all return after combining for 132 starts last year. Two-time All-BIG EAST center Kayla Alexander returns to lead the Orange. The senior ranked in the top 10 in the BIG EAST in scoring (14.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg), and led the conference in blocked shots (2.6 bpg). Alexander enters the season fifth in career points at SU (1,451), 333 behind all-time leader Nicole Michael’s (2007-10) 1,784.
SU loses leading point scorer Iasia Hemingway. She played in 37 games last year, averaging 14.9 points per game and grabbing 6.4 rebounds per game. She added 83 assists, 27 steals and shot 44 percent from the floor.
Hillsman brings in the nation’s No. 6 ranked recruiting class (ESPN Hoopgurlz). The five-member class is led by McDonald’s All-Americans Brianna Butler and Brittney Sykes, along with Parade All-American Pachis Roberts. Syracuse finished third in the country in free throws made (619) and attempted (824) in 2011-12. It ranked third in the BIG EAST and 11th in the NCAA in free throw shooting percentage at .751.