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Irish Insights

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Irish, Diggins named Big East's best

Notre Dame's women's basketball team unseated Connecticut again, and the Irish's top player is expected to be the Big East's best player this season.

The Irish were picked to win the Big East title this season, and guard Skylar Diggins was named the preseason player of the year by the league's coaches at the conference's media day Thursday in New York.

It's the first time UConn isn't the preseason favorite since 2005. Notre Dame knocked UConn out of the NCAA tournament on its way to last season's championship game, where it lost to Texas A&M.

The Irish received nine first-place votes from the league's coaches, who are not allowed to vote for their own team or players.

Diggins emerged as the face of women's basketball during last season's tournament run. The junior averaged 15 points, 4.8 assists and 1.9 steals last season.

Guard Natalie Novosel and forward Devereaux Peters joined Diggins on the preseason All-Big East first team.

Novosel earned the conference's most improved player award last season when she led Notre Dame's offense with 15.1 points per game.

Peters had 10 double-doubles last season, averaging a team-high 7.5 rebounds along with 11.9 points per game. She also had 68 blocks and 66 steals.

Preseason coaches' poll

1. Notre Dame (9) 219

2. Connecticut (7) 216

3. Louisville 191

4. Rutgers 176

5. Georgetown 175

6. DePaul 152

7. St. John's 145

8. Syracuse 123

9. West Virginia 108

10. USF 96

11. Marquette 92

12. Pittsburgh 62

13. Villanova 54

14. Providence 51

15. Cincinnati 38

16. Seton Hall 22

first-place votes in parentheses

Preseason awards

Player of the Year

Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame

Freshman of the Year

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Connecticut

All-Big East team^

Bria Hartley, Connecticut

Tiffany Hayes, Connecticut

*Keisha Hampton, DePaul

*Sugar Rodgers, Georgetown

Monique Reid, Louisville

Shoni Schimmel, Louisville

Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame

Natalie Novosel, Notre Dame

Devereaux Peters, Notre Dame

Shenneika Smith, St. John's

Da'Shena Stevens, St. John's

Kayla Alexander, Syracuse

Honorable Mention

Stefanie Dolson, Connecticut

Khadijah Rushdan, Rutgers

April Sykes, Rutgers

Andrea Smith, USF

* - unanimous selections

^Additional member added due to voting tie

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