The St. Lawrence University women's basketball team was the narrow favorite to top the Liberty League again this season in a close pre-season coaches' poll.
The Saints received 57 points, including three first place votes for the top spot, though first place votes were dispersed amongst five teams and only 10 points separated the top three in the poll.
With no seniors and only three juniors, St. Lawrence returns just five players from last season's squad that finished 16-0 in the conference and 21-5 overall. After losing significant leadership and talent in the class of 2012, head coach Dan Roiger and the Saints will need the returners to fill prominent roles with consistency while the newcomers need to adapt quickly throughout the season.
"It was a huge surprise being picked as the top team in the Liberty League and a recognition of our success from last year," said Coach Roiger, who enters his fourth season at the helm of the Saints' program with a 58-18 record. "Our goal as a young team is to compete and get better in every game, and to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season. Our conference is very strong this year and I am hopeful that we can improve throughout the year to be in contention for one of the four spots in the playoffs this season."
Junior Kelly Legg, a two-time All-Conference selection, finished the season among league leaders with 285 total points, averaging 11.4 per game. However, the team lost its next three top scorers to graduation including the Liberty League Defensive Player of the Year Katie Edgerton, and All-Conference selections Casey Capello and Iris Santoni. Joining Legg as returning point contributors are sophomores Kara McDuffee (6.0 ppg, 28 steals, 45 assists) and Allison Cady (3.3 ppg, 24 steals, 26 assists), as well as junior co-captain Cassie St. Hilaire (4.6 ppg, 16 steals, 25 assists).
Meanwhile, junior co-captain Hannah Wilson, who missed last season due to injury, returns to the mix this season. The Berne, NY native recorded 4.3 points per game, 18 steals and 45 assists as a rookie.
Coach Roiger, who will be joined on the bench by Aliza Bogdanich '04 again this season, welcomes newcomers Lauren Quattrocchi (5-6, G), Amanda Roberts (5-6, G), Gabi Hahn (5-9, G), Catherine Murray (5-8, G) and Julia Raue (6-1, F) to the squad.
St. Lawrence is set to open its 2012-13 campaign this weekend at the Rochester Tip-off Tournament, taking on host and regional powerhouse Rochester on Friday at 8:00pm. On Saturday, the squad will play either Scranton or St. John Fisher. The Saints will host Plattsburgh State on Tuesday, November 27 in their home opener in the Burkman Gymnasium.