NEW YORK (AP) Geno Auriemma and his UConn Huskies are used to being picked to win.
It’s no surprise with three starters returning, including AP Player of the Year Breanna Stewart, that the team was the unanimous choice to win the American Athletic Conference again. In the past 20 seasons since UConn started winning championships, the Huskies haven’t been picked as champs only a few times.
The Huskies received 10 first-place votes Thursday, with South Florida picking up the other when the preseason poll was released by the conference. Coaches aren’t allowed to vote for their own teams.
Stewart was chosen as the preseason player of the year and UConn freshman Kia Nurse was selected the league’s preseason rookie of the year.
”It’s nice and reminds you of things you want to work at to live up to those expectations during the season,” said Stewart, who was the inaugural conference player of the year last season.
Stewart was joined on the conference preseason first team by teammates Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson. Courtney Williams of South Florida and Ariel Hearn of Memphis also earned first team honors.
South Florida was picked to finish second in the conference followed by East Carolina, Temple, Tulane, Memphis, SMU, Cincinnati, Tulsa, UCF and Houston.
”Everyone wants to try and beat UConn,” said South Florida coach Jose Fernandez. ”It’s a goal every year. We’ve beaten Notre Dame and Louisville in the past. But we’ve never gotten them yet.”
Tulane, Tulsa and East Carolina are newcomers to the American this season with the departure of Louisville and Rutgers.
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