by Tyler Roaix
We are just a couple weeks away from Thanksgiving, which means it is time for the college basketball season to begin. After a trip to the Northeastern Conference Tournament last year, Central Connecticut is looking to improve on that, in hopes of a potential title run.
The women’s team came in at fifth place in the preseason poll, behind Sacred Heart, Bryant, two-time defending-champion Robert Morris and Saint Francis, who is the favorite to win the conference. The Red Flash received seven of the 10 votes to take the top spot.
Central had a tough non-conference schedule last season, finishing 1-10 in games outside the NEC. They ended up with a 11-20 record overall, but a 10-10 conference record was good enough for a sixth place finish, qualifying them for the NEC tournament. The Blue Devils then pulled off a surprising upset over Saint Francis University, who finished tied for second in the conference. Central would end up falling to eventual-champion Robert Morris in the semifinals to conclude the 2016-2017 campaign.
Central is fortunate that they lost just three players to graduation. Aleah Epps, Giocelis Reynoso and Chayla Lewis. Epps and Reynoso were consistent starters for Central last year, leaving head coach Beryl Piper having to figure out who will be able to fill in their places.
Of their 12-player roster, CCSU has just one senior and one graduate student. Brianna Jacobs is a senior forward from Maryland who averaged 2.4 points per game last year for the Blue Devils. Morgan Johnson is a graduate student, originally from Know, Pennsylvania, but played at Rhode Island University as an undergraduate student. She started all 29 games for RIU last year.
One thing the Blue Devils will have to improve on is their play away from home. They finished with a modest 7-5 record in Detrick Gym, but a 4-14 record on the road hurt the Blue Devils. Central averaged 60.8 points per game as a team, while shooting 29.4 percent from the field, in 18 road games last year. But in 12 home games, CCSU averaged 63.3 points and a 32.4 shooting percentage.
CCSU opens up the 2017-2018 season with a tough road game Friday, Nov. 10 against West Virginia, who is ranked 13th in the entire country in the Associated Press preseason poll, according to the NCAA website.
After another difficult road game Nov. 12 against Virginia, Central plays their first home game Nov. 16 against Brown. The Blue Devils open up conference play on Dec. 29 at home against Mount St. Mary’s.