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Women’s Basketball Selected by Coaches as BIG EAST Preseason Favorites

In the 27 years of BIG EAST women’s basketball, Connecticut has been crowned the regular-season champion 16 times, has won 14 league tournament titles and has captured both titles in the same year in 12 seasons.

Connecticut earned 14 first-place votes for a total of 224 points in the poll. The Huskies went 15-1 in league play a year ago, finished the season with a 36-2 overall record, earned a berth to the NCAA Championship for the 20th straight year and advanced to their ninth Final Four. UConn returns four of its five starters from last year’s Final Four team, and lost just four letterwinners from that squad.

UConn sophomore Maya Moore (Lawrenceville, Ga.), was chosen as the 2008-09 BIG EAST Preseason Player of Year, Moore became the first player – men’s or women’s – in conference history to be named BIG EAST Freshman and Player of the Year in the same season.

Moore had an exceptional rookie season as she was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week a league-record 10 times and was named BIG EAST Player of the Week on March 3 becoming the first freshman – male or female – to win both awards in the same week.

UConn will also be led by 2008-09 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team members Renee Montgomery (St. Albans, W. Va.) and Tina Charles (Jamaica, N.Y.).

Montgomery, a senior, will return to her natural position of point guard this season.  She has started 99 consecutive games and has registered points in 97 straight games overall.

Charles, a junior center, averaged 14.2 points per game and a team-high 9.2 rebounds per game. She enters the season just four points shy of cracking 1,000 for her career and already ranks in a tie for the sixth best shot blocking totals in the program's history.

Both were named to the Associated Press All-America Third Team squad in 2007-08, while Montgomery was a 2008 WBCA All-America First Team selection and Charles was an honorable mention pick.

The 2009 BIG EAST Women's Basketball Championship will return to the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. for the sixth straight year. For the first time all 16 BIG EAST schools will participate.

The 2009 championship will be held March 6-10 with five full days of action and 15 games. The BIG EAST's teams will battle for the conference tournament title and one will earn the league's automatic bid to the 64-team NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship.

2008-09 Preseason BIG EAST Coaches' Poll

1.  Connecticut (14)


2.  Rutgers (1)


3.  Louisville (1)


4.  Notre Dame


5.  Pittsburgh


6.  Syracuse


7.  Marquette


8.  DePaul


9.  West Virginia


10.  Villanova


11.  Georgetown


12.  USF


13.  St. John's


14.  Seton Hall


15.  Cincinnati


16.  Providence


 (-) - Indicates first-place votes

2008-09 Preseason BIG EAST Honors

2008-09 Preseason Player of the Year
Maya Moore, Connecticut, So., F

2008-09 Preseason Freshman of the Year
April Sykes, Rutgers, Fr., G/F (Starkville, Miss.)

2008-09 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team
Candyce Bingham, Louisville, Sr., F
*Tina Charles, Connecticut, Jr., C
*Krystal Ellis, Marquette, Sr., G
Shantia Grace, USF, Sr., G
Chandrea Jones, Syracuse, Sr., G
*Angel McCoughtry, Louisville, Sr., F
Renee Montgomery, Connecticut, Sr., G
*Maya Moore, Connecticut, So., F
*Epiphanny Prince, Rutgers, Jr., G
Kia Vaughn, Rutgers, Sr., C
*Shavonte Zellous, Pittsburgh, RS-Sr., G

2008-09 Preseason All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention
Laura Kurz, Villanova, Sr., F
Deirdre Naughton, DePaul, Jr., G
Lindsay Schrader, Notre Dame, Sr., G

* - unanimous selection