NEWARK, NJ – Rutgers junior guard Cappie Pondexter (Chicago, IL) has been unanimously selected to the 2003-2004 Preseason All-BIG EAST Conference First Team, and the Rutgers women’s basketball team was picked to finish second by the league coaches in the Preseason BIG EAST Conference Poll.
Pondexter, already named a preseason candidate for the 2003-2004 Women’s Wooden Award and the State Farm Wade Trophy, led Rutgers with 18.3 points and 4.9 assists per game during her rookie campaign, adding 5.1 rebounds per contest to rank second for the Scarlet Knights. An honorable-mention Associated Press and Kodak/WBCA All-American as well as the 2003 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, she also was the first rookie in conference history to earn a spot on the All-BIG EAST First Team. One of 12 finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which honors the top point guard in Division I women’s basketball, Pondexter also was a member of the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team. This past summer, she helped lead the United States to a gold medal at the FIBA World Championship for Young Women in Sibenik, Croatia. One of the team’s co-captains as well as the starting point guard this summer, Pondexter has spent the last four summers playing with the 21-and-under U.S. team.
She was one of four unanimous selections to the six-member Preseason All-First Team. A second-team preseason all-BIG EAST selection last season, she is the first Rutgers first-team preseason pick since Tasha Pointer was named to the 2000-2001 squad.
As a team, Rutgers received 156 points and one first-place vote to finish second in the preseason poll. Two-time defending national champion Connecticut received 169 points and 13 first-place votes to lead the rankings. RU posted a 13-3 league mark a year ago to finish second in the BIG EAST regular-season standings.
Rutgers engineered the most dramatic turnaround in Division I last season, improving from 9-20 in 2001-2002 to 21-8 and a trip to the 2003 NCAA Tournament’s second round.
The Scarlet Knights, under the direction of ninth-year head coach C. Vivian Stringer, will host exhibition games Nov. 3 and 9. The 2003-2004 season will officially get underway Friday, Nov. 14, when the Knights host St. Peter’s in the first round of the Preseason WNIT at 7:30 p.m.
Preseason BIG EAST Conference Women’s Basketball Awards
Player of the Year: Diana Taurasi, Connecticut
Freshman of the Year: Crystal Erwin, Notre Dame; Liz Sherwood, Connecticut
All-BIG EAST First Team:
Jacqueline Batteast, Notre Dame, Jr., F
*Rebekkah Brunson, Georgetown, Sr., F
Tamara James, Miami, So., G/F
*Ieva Kublina, Virginia Tech, Sr., F/C
*Cappie Pondexter, Rutgers, Jr., G
*Diana Taurasi, Connecticut, Sr., G
* indicates unanimous selection
All-BIG EAST Second Team:
Jessalyn Deveny, Boston College, Jr., G
Julie McBride, Syracuse, Sr., G
Courtney Mix, Villanova, Sr., F
Ann Strother, Connecticut, So., G
Barbara Turner, Connecticut, So., F/G
Preseason BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Poll
1. Connecticut (13) 169
2. Rutgers (1) 156
3. Notre Dame 139
4. Virginia Tech 124
5. Boston College 120
6. Miami 115
7. Villanova 103
8. West Virginia 80
9. Georgetown 66
10. Seton Hall 65
11. Syracuse 61
12. Pittsburgh 30
13. St. John’s 28
14. Providence 18