After losing its three leading scorers to graduation in the spring, the Binghamton University women’s basketball team came in at No. 8 in the 2012-13 America East Preseason Poll. Reigning conference champion University at Albany topped the poll after receiving five first-place votes and 61 total points.
Binghamton head coach Nicole Scholl said that the team isn’t giving the preseason prediction much weight.
“We don’t put a lot of stock into it,” Scholl said. “You know, honestly, for us, it’s a matter of how we finish at the end of the year. Obviously [the No. 8 ranking is] a little lower than we expected, but it’s a challenge for us and that’s just kind of the way we’re looking at it.”
The Bearcats, who received a total of 16 points in the poll, finished last season in sixth place with a 6-10 record in conference play. The team upset No. 3 seed University of Hartford in the America East quarterfinals before being edged out by No. 2 Albany in the semifinals.
But Binghamton will face a challenge in replacing guards Andrea Holmes and Orla O’Reilly and forward Viive Rebane, who made up the team’s top three scorers last season and graduated in the spring. Holmes, who was Binghamton’s star during her four-year career and led the entire league last year in scoring, also posted team-bests in 3-pointers made, minutes played and assists. Rebane, meanwhile, served as BU’s defensive leader, topping the team’s charts in blocked shots and rebounds. The three led the team in nearly every major category.
“With it being such a different group, with obviously the loss of our four starters, it’s kind of a new era for us so to speak,” Scholl said. “So goals right now for us are the team chemistry piece and continuing to build on that and just getting better each and every day and more comfortable with one another on the floor.”
The Bearcats will return two starters from last season in junior forward Jasbriell Swain and senior forward Kara Elofson. Swain, who was named Rookie of the Year in 2011, averaged just over six points and six rebounds per game last year. Elofson led the team in field goal percentage and averaged 5.6 points per game. The Bearcats also add five freshmen to the roster.
The Great Danes received five votes to repeat after capturing the program’s first-ever conference championship last season. Albany will return three of its starters from last year’s team, which was the winningest of its America East era. Highlighting the returners is junior guard Ebone Henry, who was unanimously voted to the 2012-13 America East Preseason All-Conference Team.
Boston University, which will return its three leading scorers from last year’s regular season conference championship team, finished in second in the preseason poll with two first-place votes. Two-time America East Player of the Year Chantell Alford returns for Boston, along with senior Mo Moran and junior Rashidat Agboola. All three averaged more than nine points per game.
University of Hartford captured the remaining two first-place votes to land in third in the preseason poll. University of New Hampshire and the University of Vermont tied for fourth with 37 points. University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Maine grabbed the two spots directly ahead of Binghamton, while Stony Brook University rounded out the poll with 12 points.
Binghamton is set to kick off its season with an exhibition game against Mansfield University on Nov. 6. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Events Center.