These preseason rankings are just a quick ordering based on last year's RPI adjusted for returning players. They are used only as a framework for discussion, not to say Team X is the 4th-best in the country.
"Top 100 returnees" refers to anyone returning who was in the top 100 in last year's Player Efficiency Rating among players with at least 400 minutes played (list here). "Offence and defence" means points scored and allowed per 100 possessions (with the difference, or Net Efficiency, in parentheses); the CIS average for this is about 82 per 100 for the women and 94 per 100 for the men.
There's one team from last year's RPI Top 10 who isn't covered below, and it's the Western Mustangs, who lost nearly as much as their men's team, but gain quite a bit too and maybe should be in the OUA West discussion as much as Laurier and Lakehead are. However, let's draw the line at these 20.
No. 20 MEMORIAL SEA-HAWKS
Top 100 returnees: Victoria Thistle, Brittany Dalton
Offence and defence: 91, 81 (+10)
Last year's results: 16-4 season, 16-5 including playoffs, 14th in RPI
Looking ahead: They'd be ranked higher if they weren't losing hundreds of boards from a team that, last year, was one of the best at rebounding defensively (not the same as defensive rebounds). But with Thistle around (#11 in PER last year), a lot is possible.
No. 19 OTTAWA GEE-GEES
Top 100 returnees: Emilie Morasse, Hannah Sunley-Paisley
Offence and defence: 84, 78 (+6)
Last year's results: 15-7 season, 16-8 through OUA playoffs, 18th in RPI, not much of anything in Regina
Looking ahead: Winning the OUA East and getting to the Final 8 was a huge accomplishment for this team, who went 3-19 the year before and hadn't finished above .500 since 2004-2005. This year, even after losing three K.L.'s, they could very well do it again. The U of T Blues and Carleton Ravens are certainly not much better off, going forward, than uOttawa (66% of points return for the Gee-Gees; 40% and 57% for those other two).
No. 18 McMASTER MARAUDERS
Top 100 returnees: Taylor Smith
Offence and defence: 77, 74 (+3)
Last year's results: 14-8 season, 15-9 overall, 19th in RPI
Looking ahead: Will this year's Final 8 hosts even host an OUA playoff game? Okay, maybe finishing fourth or higher is a given, especially with the two teams west of Woodstock more vulnerable this year, but maybe not. Thankfully for Mac, their offensive shortcomings (short on rebounding and free-throw shooting) can be covered up by their defence; also, they return four big-minute players aside from Smith and add two decent recruits. A couple more exhibition wins would have been encouraging, though.
No. 17 CALGARY DINOS
Top 100 returnees: Ashley Hill
Offence and defence: 78, 81 (-3)
Last year's results: 8-14 season, 8-16 overall, 20th in RPI
Looking ahead: The Dinos would do well to shift from a relentless-yet-turnover-prone team that did not shoot well or keep its opponents from shooting well to a young and improving team that can challenge the four or five other very good teams in its new division. With injuries keeping three players out for a large part of the season, that may be difficult. Put as much stock as you wish into a 92-79 loss at home to Regina.
No. 16 LAURIER GOLDEN HAWKS
Top 100 returnees: Renata Adamczyk, Amber Hillis
Offence and defence: 82, 83 (-1)
Last year's results: 11-11 season, 12-12 including the playoffs (with a close loss to the Lancers), 24th in RPI
Looking ahead: A thoroughly average team in 2008-2009, the Hawks return every starter but one in a not-automatically-Windsor's OUA West. One presumes they are better than thoroughly average this year, although I currently have them as a whopping 0.03 points below average based on preseason results. Regardless, Adamczyk is worth the price of admission.
No. 15 LAURENTIAN LADY VEES
Top 100 returnees: Darrah Bumstead, Lisa Furchner
Offence and defence: 84, 83 (+1)
Last year's results: 10-12 season, 10-13 playoffs, 25th in RPI
Looking ahead: The preseason has not been kind to Laurentian, but most of that was Memorial. The Vees welcome many players back; Amanda McConnell is the only qualifier who isn't. Not forcing enough turnovers was a huge issue last year and it would be worthwhile to keep an eye on that this year. The favourites for the OUA East are probably still the Gee-Gees.
No. 14 UBC THUNDERBIRDS
Top 100 returnees: Zara Huntley, Lia St. Pierre, Alex Vieweg
Offence and defence: 84, 77 (+7)
Last year's results: 13-10 season, 15-12 overall, 13th in RPI
Looking ahead: Two years after winning it all, and a year after losing a few players and missing out on the Final 8, this year's T-Birds might be thankful that the Canada West Pacific division doesn't follow the MLB rules for playoff qualification. They're at least third place behind UVic and SFU. Minor improvements from their returning players across the board will be needed to finish first or second, especially without Defensive Player of the Year Leanne Evans.
No. 13 REGINA COUGARS
Top 100 returnees: Gabrielle Gheyssen
Offence and defence: 88, 72 (+16)
Last year's results: 18-4 season, 23-6 overall, 4th in RPI, made the CIS final at home.
Looking ahead: Will this still be one of the best defences in the country? Last year, they were very, very good at preventing shots and grabbing the rebounds on the ones that got through. But they return only half of their defensive boards and half their blocks. Finishing second at the nationals two years in a row may be bittersweet, but doing so again in 2010 will be difficult.
No. 12 ALBERTA PANDAS
Top 100 returnees: Anneka Bakker, Nicole Clarke
Offence and defence: 84, 68 (+16)
Last year's results: 16-6 season, 23-9 playoffs, 3rd in RPI, bronze at nationals.
Looking ahead: This is a good team that lost some players near the top: Ashley Wigg and Kristen Jarock to name just two. Watch their opponents' turnovers; they were the best at causing those last year. The losses to Windsor, Regina, and Carleton (!) so far this month mean as much as you think exhibition results deserve to mean; they are worth mentioning, at least.
No. 11 BISHOP'S GAITERS
Top 100 returnees: Jessy Roy
Offence and defence: 88, 76 (+12)
Last year's results: 10-6 season, 11-12 playoffs, 16th in RPI
Looking ahead: In some ways a better team than UQAM, who are listed below. There must be something in the Lennoxville water reservoir: the Gaiters' returning players shot 78% from the line, ten points higher than the CIS average (Mélanie Ouellet-Godcharles: 31-for-33.). They also seem to play a slower game than most (think the Carleton men). Look for the Gaiters to work on that turnover ratio some more; if they do, they're sitting pretty in the Q.
No. 10 LAKEHEAD THUNDERWOLVES
Top 100 returnees: Tasia McKenna, Lindsay Drurey
Offence and defence: 80, 77 (+3)
Last year's results: 11-11 season, 11-12 playoffs, 21st in RPI
Looking ahead: Al Maki might not refer to the Lakehead women's team as a great group of dudes (yes, we're going to call back to that over and over) but they have a great chance of winning something this year. Their outside shooters are back (McKenna was 34% from long range last year; Georgia Harvey 39%) and it's likely that they'll run another quick offence.
No. 9 LAVAL ROUGE et OR
Top 100 returnees: Marie-Michelle Genois, Elyse Jobin, Chanelle St-Amour
Offence and defence: 87, 78 (+9)
Last year's results: 11-5 season, 14-7 overall, lost consolation final at the nationals, 17th in RPI
Looking ahead: This is one Quebec City-based team that doesn't cause turnover problems for their opponents (in fact, none of the five teams in this conference did last year, which is supremely odd). Genois is one of those names you hear a lot of when following women's basketball in this country. Her per-40 averages last year were 18.2 points and 12.6 rebounds, which helped her finish 18th in the country in PER, highest in the QUBL, while Jobin and St-Amour will step up on the perimeter, having 43 of the returning 52 three-pointers between them.
No. 8 WINDSOR LANCERS
Top 100 returnees: Iva Peklova, Shavaun Reaney
Offence and defence: 100, 76 (+24)
Last year's results: 21-1 season, 24-1 through OUA playoffs, fourth place at nationals, 2nd in RPI
Looking ahead: Losing Alisa Wulff and Dranadia Roc hurts, but maybe not as much as we thought. Windsor was the best rebounding team in the country last year for a reason. Peklova is still around and they've added some sizeable recruits. It remains to be seen how the other factors of their game will stand up in 2009-2010.
No. 7 SASKATCHEWAN HUSKIES
Top 100 returnees: Jana Spindler, Kim Tulloch, Jill Humbert
Offence and defence: 88, 74 (+14)
Last year's results: 18-4 season, 19-10 overall, 8th in RPI
Looking ahead: And here's why a No. 7 ranking doesn't matter much -- it doesn't consider McMaster transfer Lindsay Degroot, who had a single-game high of 33 points during non-conference play. She isn't listed in the Top 100, but had she played last year, she would have been. Can the Huskies maintain their performance in other categories while improving their defensive rebounding? If so, they'll fly past the nominal No. 4 team, listed below.
No. 6 UQAM CITADINS
Top 100 returnees: Irline Noel, Karine Boudrais
Offence and defence: 80, 81 (-1)
Last year's results: 9-7 season, 10-8 playoffs, 7th in RPI
Looking ahead: I received more than one confused e-mail last February asking why they were so high in last year's RPI. It certainly wasn't because of their shooting, the worst among any team in this post. With exactly one preseason win so far, over McMaster in Calgary, the same confusion may be evident for this #6 ranking. But let's see how the season plays out. By the way, they should finish first just for having the most appropriate nickname in the QUBL (roughly, "the urbanites," which--yeah, that works for UQAM).
No. 5 VICTORIA VIKES
Top 100 returnees: Kayla Dykstra
Offence and defence: 86, 73 (+13)
Last year's results: 17-6 season, 17-8 overall, 5th in RPI
Looking ahead: So how'd you like to be the 2008-2009 Vikes? They had the CIS player of the year, were near the top of the conference in RPI, and did something nobody else did: beat SFU. However, their postseason was blink-and-there-it-goes. They and the Clan are safe bets to finish 1-2 and, what do you know, they open the season against each other (govikesgo.com will have your Aylward-approved streaming video, 5 pm PT / 8 pm ET tipoff on Saturday).
No. 4 WINNIPEG WESMEN
Top 100 returnees: Caitlin Gooch, Amy Odigan
Offence and defence: 86, 85 (+1)
Last year's results: 13-9 season, 15-12 overall, 11th in RPI.
Looking ahead: Hey look, another Canada West team. And don't be living in the past, wondering why the unfortunately named Wesmen are No. 4 here with only a +1 Net Efficiency: after all, they return 94% of their minutes, 96% of points, 95% of rebounds, 97% of steals...is that enough? Should I go on? With virtually everyone back for another year, moving up from 11th in RPI is expected. A first-place finish in the revised Prairie division is easily within reach and depends greatly on the Huskies' performance.
No. 3 ST. FRANCIS XAVIER X-WOMEN
Top 100 returnees: Jacquelyn Richardson, Ashley Stephen
Offence and defence: 88, 78 (+10)
Last year's results: 16-4 season, 17-5 overall, 10th in RPI.
Looking ahead: Well. You know and I know and everyone in Antigonish knows that the best three or five or however many teams in the country are in a league with "West" in its name, not "Atlantic." But we proceed onward with the X-Women, who finished behind three teams in the AUS despite having as many or more wins than all of them. That will not happen this year. Unless I have missed something, the only player not returning had a total of 41 minutes of court time last year. So if you want to go by the axiom of "lots of returning players on a good team makes that team better," which I have relied upon throughout this preview, X might mark the AUS entry in this year's Final 8...
No. 2 CAPE BRETON CAPERS
Top 100 returnees: Kelsey Hodgson, Kari Everett, Karmen Brown
Offence and defence: 88, 78 (+10)
Last year's results: 15-5 season, 17-5 overall, 11th in RPI, went to Final 8
Looking ahead: ...if the Capers don't mark it themselves. 41 minutes not returning for St. F-X? Big deal; CBU "loses" only 89. You know about Hodgson, who was 51-for-118 from long range (or thereabouts ... this is CIS after all), but there's a lot more to this offence. Friend of the blog and A-1 AUS chronicler Chad Lucas said, of the Capers' AUS championship win, "I predicted that if the Capers got solid contributions from Everett and Karmen Brown they'd win it all this weekend, and that's exactly what happened." There is no reason to disbelieve that statement as it applies to the whole pre-Final 8 schedule.
No. 1 SIMON FRASER CLAN
Top 100 returnees: Laurelle Weigl, Robyn Buna, Matteke Hutzler, Katie Miyazaki, Lisa Tindle
Offence and defence: 101, 70 (+31)
Last year's results: Uh, hard to remember. They might have won a few games or something.
Looking ahead: Most everyone, including the erudite Kate Hole, returns for the dominating Clan's last year in the CIS; Courtney Gerwing does not (but she's keeping busy with former SFU assistant Tyler Slipp and the Waterloo Warriors). That +31 Net Efficiency really stands out, doesn't it? You don't need to watch much of this team to realize how far above the rest of the league they are. Accordingly, there aren't many weaknesses, but if you had to pick an area for development, it would be getting to the line more often. Doing so, when combined with their status as the best-shooting team in the league, would presumably result in many more three-point plays. Have I already mentioned their UVic matchup on Saturday? (What else are you going to do, watch the World Series?)