LANCASTER, Pa. – With the season opener less than a week away, the Ursinus College women's basketball team was slotted seventh in the Centennial Conference preseason poll.
Defending champion Muhlenberg received 19 of a possible 22 first-place votes to top the poll with 198 points, with Gettysburg (169 points) collecting one of the three remaining first-place ballots to take the second spot in a survey of the league's head coaches and sports information directors. McDaniel garnered a first-place vote and finished tied for third with Haverford at 147 points.
Dickinson (143 points) was fifth, followed by Johns Hopkins (121, 1 first-place vote), Ursinus (84), Franklin & Marshall (79), Swarthmore (63), Washington College (40), and Bryn Mawr (19).
Head coach Margaret White returns for her second season sporting a mostly brand-new collection of talent following the graduation of four senior starters, including a pair of 1,000-point scorers and All-CC performers in Jessica Porada and Alyssa Polimeni, from a squad that finished 11-14 overall and just missed out on the CC playoffs with a 9-9 league mark. The 2016-17 version of the Bears will be a green unit, with more than half the roster (7 of 12) comprised of freshmen.
Ursinus is tasked with replacing over 80 percent of its scoring and 71 percent of its rebounding from a year ago, but White hopes to accomplish that with a young, versatile nucleus led by captains Libby Lannon and Rachel Guy. Lannon, a senior, is a stellar defender on the perimeter, and Guy, a junior, gives the Bears an outside presence after shooting 34.1 percent from 3-point range and averaging 5.9 points per game last year.
Senior captain Carla Maccaroni and sophomores Brielle Clarke and Kaci McNeave make up the rest of the returners for the Bears. McNeave, an improving floor general, and Clarke, a long-range threat and perimeter presence, are expected to see expanded roles.
Among the newcomers, Toni Suler and Lydia Konstanzer will be looked to to fill the void left by departing forwards Elana Roadcloud and Porada. Roadcloud led the CC in rebounding a year ago, while Porada – a first team all-conference selection – ranks fourth all-time in both scoring and rebounding. Both players give the Bears a versatile post presence as well as the ability to score in multiple ways and become effective defenders with their length and athleticism.
Ursinus is gunning for a more up-tempo style this season, using a bevy of athletes who can play and defend multiple positions. White expects a balanced offensive attack, with several players capable of leading the team in scoring on any given night.
The women's basketball team begins the season on Tuesday, November 15 at Albright.