When the ACC held their annual women’s basketball media day, they did not give it a splashy name like they did for the men. Wednesday was just deemed ACC Media Day. Teams came from far and wide to take part in the event, with the conference’s three new schools (Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh) enjoying their introduction to the conference.
Prior to the event officially getting underway, the ACC announced its preseason rankings. Duke was selected as the preseason favorite by the Blue Ribbon Panel voters and the conference’s 15 head coaches. It is their 13th straight season receiving at least a top three preseason ranking. Last season, the Blue Devils finished 33-3 and reached the Regional Finals (where they lost to now ACC member Notre Dame). They won their fourth straight ACC regular season title and third ACC Championship in five seasons.
The Blue Devils received ten first place votes from the coaches, while the Irish received five (and 14 from the Blue Ribbon Panel) to be picked second. Last year, the Irish went to the Final Four for the third consecutive season. They also return four of their five starters from a year ago, losing only Skylar Diggins (which is a huge loss).
Both preseason polls were mirror images of each other, except for Georgia Tech being picked fifth by the coaches rather than in a tie with Florida State for fifth. Here is the entire preseason poll:
1. DUKE, 2. Notre Dame, 3. Maryland, 4. North Carolina, 5. Georgia Tech, 6. Florida State, 7. Syracuse, 8. Virginia, 9. Miami, 10. NC State, 11. Boston College, 12. Wake Forest, 13. Virginia Tech, 14. Clemson, and 15. Pittsburgh.
Alyssa Thomas of Maryland was once again named the preseason pick for Player of the Year by both groups. She is a two-time winner of the end-of-season award. She is coming off a season where she led the ACC in scoring at 18.8 points per game, rebounding at 10.3 per game, and assists at 5.5 per game. She also led the conference in double-doubles with 20 (12 in 18 ACC games).
Joining Thomas on the Blue Ribbon Panel Preseason All-ACC first team was GT’s Tyaunna Marshall, UNC’s Xylina McDaniel, UVA’s Ataira Franklin, Wake’s Chelsea Douglas, two from ND, and three from Duke.
The two from new to the ACC Notre Dame were Natalie Achonwa and Kayla McBride. The three from Duke were Chelsea Gray, Tricia Liston, and Elizabeth Williams. All five were also named to the 30 member Preseason John Wooden Award Watch List (along with Thomas, McDaniel, and Marshall).
The coaches selected Thomas, Gray, Liston, Williams, McBride, McDaniel, Marshall, and Franklin, along with Jewell Loyd (ND) and Diamond DeShields (UNC) to their All-ACC first team.
Duke had two players on the Blue Ribbon Panel Newcomer List: Oderah Chidom and Kendall McCravey-Cooper. Chidom was the tenth rated prospect coming out of Bishop O’Dowd High School (14 PPG, 10 RPG, 3BPG, and 2SPG). She was also a McDonald’s and WBCA All-American. McCravey-Cooper was the ninth rated prospect coming out of St. Anthony High School (12.3 PPG, 13 RPG, 4.2 BPG, and 2.4 APG). She was also a McDonald’s and WBCA All-American.
Joining them on the BRP Newcomer List were DeShields, Kaela Davis (GT), Taya Reimer (ND), and Lexie Brown (MD). The coaches selected Chidom, DeShields, Davis, Reimer, and Morgan Jones (FSU).
Duke will play their annual Blue-White scrimmage on Sunday to kick off their season. Their first exhibition game will be played on October 30th against Glenville State.