WINTHROP, Mass. – Ranked 17th in the nation in the D3hoops.com preseason poll, the Saint Joseph's College of Maine women's basketball team has taken 11 of a possible 13 first-place votes for 165 points and the top spot in the 2018 Great Northeast Athletic Conference Preseason Poll, it was announced on Thursday by the league office. The rankings were voted upon by the league's head coaches.
Winners of three straight GNAC Championships and four in the last five years under 26th-year head coach Mike McDevitt, the Monks were ranked fourth in the final set of regional rankings last season – behind only Amherst, Tufts and Bowdoin – all of which advanced to the Elite Eight. Last year for SJC, which went 16-0 in league play and 28-2 overall, the Monks topped UMass Boston, 61-56, in the NCAA Tournament First Round before falling 53-47 at Amherst in the second round.
Monks senior guard Kelsi McNamara (pictured) was named a D3hoops.com Third Team Preseason All-American last week. The 2017 GNAC Player of the Year is a two-time GNAC First Team selection and has been selected as the GNAC Tournament MVP in each of ther three seasons at SJC. The West Newbury, Mass. native averaged 18.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 39.6% (90-227) from three-point range and 81.8% (99-121) from the line as a junior.
Finishing second in the preseason poll was longtime GNAC powerhouse Emmanuel College, which collected 154 points and one first-place votes, as head coach Andy Yosinoff enters his 42nd season with the Saints. The GNAC Hall of Famer is currently the winningest head coach among active NCAA DIII women's basketball programs with 808 victories and won 15 GNAC titles over 18 years from 1996-2013. The Saints' only loss in GNAC regular-season play last season (15-1) came against SJC.
Taking the third spot in the ledger was Suffolk University with 145 points and one first-place vote, as 25th-year head coach Ed Leyden guided the Rams to the No. 3 seed in the 2018 GNAC Tournament. Regis (Mass.) finished fourth with 123 points, just ahead of fifth-place Colby-Sawyer College with 119 points, as Colby-Sawyer just joined the GNAC as a full core member this academic year.
Johnson & Wales University (RI) slotted sixth in the poll with 96 points, followed by Albertus Magnus College (89 points), Norwich University (80), Simmons University (57), University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) (47), Lasell College (41), Rivier University (37) and Anna Maria College (30).
GNAC regular-season play in 2018-19 will feature 12 conference games as league opponents play each other once in the GNAC standings. Both Suffolk and Emmanuel will travel to SJC – the Rams on January 26 and the Saints on February 5. Emmanuel will travel to Suffolk in a matchup of Boston schools on Feb. 12.
Saint Joseph's will open up the 2018-19 campaign against Eastern Nazarene and Curry at the Curry Tip-Off Tournament November 9-10. Meanwhile, some of Emmanuel's non-conference opponents include Gallaudet (Nov. 17), at Brandeis (Nov. 20), Amherst (Nov. 27), at Connecticut Coll. (Dec. 4) and at MIT (Dec. 8).
2018 GNAC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll
1. Saint Joseph's (Maine) (11) - 165
2. Emmanuel (1) - 154
3. Suffolk (1) - 145
4. Regis (Mass.) - 123
5. Colby-Sawyer - 119
6. Johnson & Wales - 96
7. Albertus Magnus - 89
8. Norwich - 80
9. Simmons - 57
10. Saint Joseph (Conn.) - 47
11. Lasell - 41
12. Rivier - 37
13. Anna Maria - 30
COURTESY OF GNAC SPORTS INFORMATION OFFICE