Published October 19. 2012 4:00AM
UConn is the preseason choice to win the Big East women's basketball championship and the Huskies' Breanna Stewart was selected the conference's preseason Freshman of the Year.
Both announcements were made Thursday morning at the New York Athletic Club, site of the annual Big East media day. All voting was done by 15 head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
UConn, which won the 2012 Big East tournament championship, edged last year's regular-season champion Notre Dame in the voting. The Huskies received 12 first-place votes and 194 points while the Irish received the other three first-place votes and 182 points. Louisville was picked to finish third.
"It's nice to be up top, but it's more about what we do at the end of the season that matters," said coach Geno Auriemma. "We have four starters back and a really good freshmen group so it's no surprise we're No. 1."
UConn and Notre Dame were both NCAA Final Four participants last season. The Irish (35-4 last year) beat the Huskies (33-5) in the NCAA semifinals before losing to Baylor in the title game and return senior guard Skylar Diggins, last year;s Big East Player of the Year and the preseason choice for the second straight season.
UConn, meanwhile, returns All-Big East preseason picks Bria Hartley, Stefanie Dolson and Kaleena Mosqueda Lewis. Hartley was a unanimous choice whle Mosqueda Lewis was last year'sB Big East Freshman of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year.
The Huskies also feature three consensus high school All-Americans - the versatile 6-foot-4 Stewart, 6-2 forward Morgan Tuck and 5-7 point guard Moriah Jefferson. Stewart was also the consensus national player of the year in high school.
Rounding out the rest of the preseason All-Big East team are DePaul senior guard Anna Martin, Georgetown senior guard Sugar Rodgers, Louisville junior guard Shoni Schimmel, Rutgers senior swingman Monique Oliver, St. John's senior guard Nadirah McKenith, St. John's senior guard Shenneika Smith and Syracuse senior center Kayla Alexander.
Diggins, Hartley, Martin, Rodgers and Schimmel were unanimous selections.
- Staff and Wire Reports