Written by Andrew Capitelli (SJC-LI Sports Information)
Brooklyn, NY| Entering her third season at the helm, head coach Kelley Watts leads the St. Joseph's College (L.I.) women's basketball team into the 2017-18 season with playoff aspirations.
The Golden Eagles, who posted a 6-19 overall record (5-13 Skyline) in 2016-17, failed to qualify for the conference championship for the fifth-straight season, but Watts' incoming class of freshmen and transfers could reverse the team's recent fortunes.
The Returners: Six of Watts' 11 roster players this season featured last year including senior Andrea Iavarone. In 2016-17, Iavarone earned a plethora of end-of-season awards including All-Met Division Third-Team, ECAC Metro All-Star Honorable Mention and Skyline All-Conference First-Team recognition. The forward led the team in scoring (18.3 PPG), rebounding (11.6 RPG) and field-goal percentage (51.6).
The offense will again run through junior Alicia Indence, who reprises her role as starting point guard. The Mt. St. Mary transfer finished third in the conference in assists-per-game (3.6) and averaged 8.4 points-per-game in her first season with the Golden Eagles.
Long-range shooter Jennifer Gubell returns for her senior year after posting career-high numbers in points-per-game (8.4) and three-point shooting percentage (32.2%) a year ago.
The Newcomers: Watts' two freshman recruits—Jami Cardenas and Lindsey McKenna—will make immediate impacts and add depth to a squad that's ran thin the past couple of seasons. At 6'0", McKenna gives Watts another low post option while Cardenas adds a growing list of guards.
Transferring in from Nassau Community College is junior N'Dea Maddox, who averaged 8.5 points and 2.3 rebounds-per-game for the Lions last season.
Expectations: Despite losing the program's best-ever three-point shooter—Jackie Zizzo—to graduation, the Golden Eagles are a deeper and bigger team than they were last season. The results of the Skyline Conference Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll, released on November 8, predict the Golden Eagles finish in seventh place—one spot outside of the conference playoff picture.
2017-18 Skyline Conference Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Old Westbury (5 first-place votes) - 72 pts.
2. Mount Saint Mary (1) - 68
3. Farmingdale State (2) - 67
4. Mount Saint Vincent (1) - 58
5. U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (1) - 56
6. St. Joseph's-Brooklyn - 40
7. St. Joseph's-Long Island - 30
8. Purchase - 26
9. Yeshiva - 21
10. Sarah Lawrence - 12
When they begin: The Golden Eagles open their 2017-18 season on Wednesday, November 15 when they visit non-conference opponent Medgar Evers College for a 7:00 pm tip. The four following contests take place on the road before SJC returns to Patchogue for its home-opener vs. the College of Mount St. Vincent on Thursday, November 30 (7:00 pm).