DePaul Picked to Finish Third in the Big East

New York- DePaul grabbed 179 points to finish third in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches Poll. The poll is determined by a vote of the league's 16 head coaches who are not permitted to select their own teams.

Last season, the Blue Demons finished third in the league with an 11-5 record while tying a school record of 27 wins. DePaul is coming off its best postseason effort in school history, advancing to its first-ever Sweet 16, before falling to LSU at the San Antonio Regional. Despite losing All-American Khara Smith, DePaul returns Preseason All-BIG EAST honoree junior Allie Quigley and 2005-06 All-BIG EAST Second Team pick senior Jenna Rubino along with nine letterwinners and four starters.

The University of Connecticut, the two-time defending Conference Champion, was picked to win the 2006-07 BIG EAST women's basketball regular season title. In the 25 years of BIG EAST women's basketball, Connecticut has been crowned regular-season champs 14 times, while winning 13 tournament titles. Connecticut garnered 11 of 16 possible first-place votes to total 221 points in the poll. UConn finished second last season in the regular-season standings with a record of 14-2 in conference play.

UConn will be led by 2006-07 Preseason All-BIG EAST Renee Montgomery, who was named the 2006 BIG EAST Freshman of the Year. Junior Charde Houston, a 2006-07 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention, and junior Mel Thomas will also be looked upon to guide the senior-less squad. Incoming freshman Tina Charles, from Christ the King High School in New York City, was selected as the Preseason Freshman of the Year.

Rutgers (27-5, 16-0) is the defending BIG EAST regular season champion after becoming the seventh team to go undefeated in conference play. The Scarlet Knights earned five first-place votes and a total of 215 points. RU advanced to the NCAA Regional Semifinal for the second straight year, before falling to second-seeded Tennessee in Cleveland, Ohio, the site of this year's Final Four. Preseason All-BIG EAST Team members, Matee Ajavon and Essence Carson, a pair of juniors, along with honorable mention selection sophomore Kia Vaughn, also will be counted on to lead a roster comprised of five freshmen, three sophomore, three juniors and no seniors.

Louisville was selected fourth with 176 points. The Cardinals are returning four of their top scorers and three of their five starters from last season's 19-10 team. UofL finished fifth in the regular-season standings with a 10-6 league mark. Louisville landed a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Championship Cleveland Region, but fell to USC in the first round. The Cardinals returned to the national tournament for the second straight season and the 10th time overall. Jazz Covington, All-American candidate and unanimous selection to the 2006-07 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team, will use her senior leadership to keep the Cardinals in the national spotlight.

The 2007 BIG EAST Women's Basketball Championship Presented by Aéropostale will return to the Hartford Civic Center for the fourth straight year, as the conference celebrates its 25th championship. After a successful tournament in 2005, the four-day event returns March 3-6. The BIG EAST's top 12 teams will battle for the conference title and will earn the league's automatic bid to the 64-team NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship.

The Blue Demons opens the preseason on Wednesday Nov. 1 against Lewis at 6 p.m.. A Nov. 4 game against the Chicago Challengers closes the exhibition schedule before the Nov. 12 opener at Oklahoma.

2006-07 BIG EAST Preseason Coaches Poll

1. Connecticut (11) 221

2. Rutgers (5) 215

3. DePaul 179

4. Louisville 176

5. Pittsburgh 152

6. St. John's 148

7. USF 136

8. Marquette 123

9. West Virginia 117

10. Villanova 110

11. Notre Dame 108

12. Cincinnati 82

13. Georgetown 57

14. Providence 45

15. Syracuse 30

16. Seton Hall 21

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