COACH: Adrienne Shibles (third year, 46-12)

LAST YEAR: 22-7, 5-4 NESCAC, reached NCAA Round of 16

STRENGTHS: Sophomore point guard Kaitlin Donahoe (91 assists) is ready to emerge as a full-time starter. Shooting guard Katie Bergeron can score from anywhere. Guard Jill Henrikson is healthy after last year’s knee surgery.

QUESTION: Can the Polar Bears adequately replace graduated post players Caitlin Hynes and Leah Rubega, the two leading scorers and rebounders from last year?

OUTLOOK: The Polar Bears, with a group of returning role players, are ranked 18th in the poll and should be a force in the NESCAC, behind powerhouses Amherst and Williams.



COACH: Mike McDevitt (18th year, 338-129)

LAST YEAR: 12-12, 7-5 GNAC

STRENGTHS: Four returning regulars –point guard Casey Drake (85 assists), guard Megan McDevitt (10-point average, 43 3-pointers), center Ashley Geel (9.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and forward Allie Parent (8.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 63 total assists).

QUESTION: The Monks graduated two key players: leading scorer and rebounder Meghan Daigle, and Carolyn Freeman, who tossed in 34 3-pointers. Who fills their shoes?

OUTLOOK: St. Joseph’s looks improved and will contend for a spot in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference tournament, where Emmanuel is the perennial favorite.



COACH: Anthony Ewing (fourth year, 56-27)

LAST YEAR: 23-6, 11-2 TCCC, reached first round of NCAA tournament

STRENGTHS: Six of seven regulars return, including leading scorers Kelley Paradis (13.0 points per game, 49 3-pointers) and Margo Russell (12.0 ppg), along with point guard Kari Pelletier.

QUESTION: Besides replacing leading rebounder Katie Diggins, will the Nor’easters be able to step up and make some noise in the NCAAs?

OUTLOOK: The Nor’easters, under Deering High alumnus Ewing, are developing into a power and should be primed to defend their championship in The Commonwealth Coast Conference.


COACH: Gary Fifield (23rd season, 562-95)

LAST YEAR: 21-9, 10-4 Little East, reached second round of NCAA tournament

STRENGTHS: Returning guards Kaylie DeMillo (11.6 points per game, 67 3s, 90 assists) and Renee Nichols (7.4, 73 assists) will be joined by an impressive group of freshmen.

QUESTION: Can USM rebound from losing four-year starting point guard Nicole Paradis and forward Haley Johnson to graduation, and leading scorer and rebounder Curran Leighton (16.4, 8.9) to St. Anselm?

OUTLOOK: USM is thin in the post, so Fifield will go with a four-guard offense that relies on speed and quickness. As the younger players improve, so will USM.

– Kevin Thomas