BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The Sacred Heart women's basketball team has been picked third in the Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, the NEC announced on Wednesday. The announcement was made as part of the NEC's annual Basketball Social Media Day at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. SHU was represented at the event by sixth-year head coach Jessica Mannetti and grad student Katherine Haines.
The Pioneers were one of three teams to receive first place votes in the poll, totaling three. Last year's co-regular season champions, Robert Morris and Saint Francis U., were picked atop this year's preseason rankings, with Robert Morris tabbed as the preseason favorite with five first place votes, and defending conference-tournament champion Saint Francis U. coming in second while receiving two first place votes.
Bryant finished fourth with St. Francis Brooklyn and Mount St. Mary's tying for fifth. LIU Brooklyn was picked seventh, followed by Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson and Wagner.
The Pioneers are coming off a 14-17 record last season and a 9-9 NEC record that earned themselves the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament, where they fell in the semifinals to eventual champion Saint Francis U. Current redshirt senior Candice Leatherwood (Second Team) and sophomore Adrienne Hagood (All-Rookie) both eared all-conference honors.
This season, the Pioneers will return 12 players from last season's squad, including four players that made at least 15 starts. Among the returners are the team's two leading scorers in Leatherwood (13.5 ppg), and Haines (12.5 ppg), who also led the team and ranked fourth in the NEC with 8.6 rebounds per contest. Graduate student Erin Storck (11.2 ppg) also returns to the backcourt. The Pios ranked fourth in the conference by scoring 62.8 ppg last season.
Sacred Heart will tip off the season on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at UMass, followed by their home opener at the Pitt Center on Nov. 13 against Siena.
2018-19 NEC Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Robert Morris (5)
2. Saint Francis U (2)
3. Sacred Heart (3)
5. (tie) St. Francis Brooklyn
Mount St. Mary's
7. LIU Brooklyn
8. Central Connecticut
9. Fairleigh Dickinson
2018-19 NEC Preseason All-Conference Team
Nneka Ezeigbo, RMU, Jr, C, 6-2, Ewing, NJ/Notre Dame
Sydney Holloway, BRY, Jr, G/F, 5-10, Morgantown, WV/Morgantown
Jade Johnson, SFBK, Jr, G, 5-9, Adelaide, Australia/Immanuel College
Jessica Kovatch, SFU, Sr, G, 5-9, Phillipsburg, PA/Phillipsburg
Kiana Patterson, CCSU, Sr, 5-6, Troy, NY/Troy