Coaches again pick UConn to win American Athletic Conference
PHILADELPHIA (AP) UConn was once again the overwhelming favorite to win the American Athletic Conference.
It's not a huge surprise since the Huskies haven't lost a game in the conference since joining in 2014. They are 63-0 against their conference opponents.
Even though coach Geno Auriemma graduated three All-Americans, including three-time national player of the year Breanna Stewart, the Huskies were received 10 of 11 first-place votes in the preseason poll Monday at the AAC's annual media day.
''It's great, but we don't worry about all the outside stuff and just focus on ourselves,'' UConn guard Kia Nurse said. ''There are clearly a lot of fun numbers around the program with win streaks and championships, but honestly we don't really talk about them.''
Nurse said she was honored to be chosen as the conference's preseason player of the year.
''To have accolades like that is awesome. You still have to prove yourself. Definitely it's an honor and there's a long way to go. It might be a preview of what's to come in the season.''
UConn returns seven players from the team which finished 38-0 last season and won the school's fourth consecutive national championship.
Temple was picked second and South Florida was projected third in the conference. USF garnered the other first-place vote since coaches can't vote for their own teams.
''Our first year we were somewhere in the middle in the preseason. To be able to get to a point where we're preseason second means we've done a good job over the last two years building a better program,'' Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said.
''We need to make sure we stay together and are not paying attention to the rankings. They aren't handing you No. 2, you have to work for it and do the things in practice it takes to get there. Our guys are hungry, they want something they've never done before and that's make the NCAA Tournament.''
Nurse was joined on the preseason conference first team by teammate Katie Lou Samuelson, USF's Kitija Laska, Tulane's Kolby Morgan and Temple's Alliya Butts and Feyonda Fitzgerald.
The AAC has two new coaches with Katie Abrahamson-Henderson taking over at UCF. She led Albany to five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances out of America East. SMU is now led by former NBA player Travis Mays, who was an assistant at Texas.