Plowcha’s Poll: Horizon League Women’s Basketball teams 7-9

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Photo by Horizon League/Colonial Sports Network

Kevin Plowcha breaks down teams 7-9 in his Horizon League women’s basketball rankings.

By Kevin Plowcha, Contributor

College basketball is getting closer and closer, which means another edition of Plowcha’s Poll. This time, I will be breaking down teams 9-7 of my Horizon League women’s basketball projected preseason predictions. Last week, I broke down the bottom three (12-10).

These rankings will be based on players returning to their respective teams along with transfers and recruits that are coming into the program, and statistics from those players from their previous seasons.

9. Robert Morris Colonials

2020-21 Record: (4-13 overall, 4-12 conference) Finished 9th in Horizon League, Lost to Northern Kentucky 68-54 in first round of the 2021 Horizon League Tournament

Top non-conference matchups

  • November 13th (home-opener) vs. Akron
  • December 12th @ Miami
  • December 18th vs. St. Bonaventure

Key Additions

Key Departures

Players to Watch

  • Sol Castro, So/F 2020-21: 9.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG (led team in both), Named to Horizon League all-freshman team, Named on the 2021-22 Preseason HL All-League Second Team
  • Nina Augustin, Grad/G 2020-21: 6.7 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.4 APG, Ranks 4th all-time at RMU in FT%

The Outlook

Just like the men’s team, I believe the RMU women’s team is a little underrated coming into the season. They return to the court led by their star player and leading scorer/rebounder from last season, Sol Castro, who looks to build off of a great freshman campaign and show the Horizon League she’s not here to mess around.

The Colonials will also return their #2 and #3 scorers from last season in Esther Castedo and Nina Augustin, respectively. These two will bring much-needed experience to the team.

With a shortened last season due to COVID, not everyone got a chance to prove themselves. This year, Robert Morris will hopefully have that luxury, and although I place RMU at #9 in my rankings, I believe this team is talented enough to play better than expected.

8. Youngstown State Penguins

2020-21 Record: (10-8 overall, 9-7 conference) Finished 7th in Horizon League, Lost to Milwaukee 77-68 in quarterfinals of the 2021 Horizon League Tournament

Top non-conference matchups

  • November 26th vs. LIU
  • December 12th @ Penn State

Key Additions

  • Megan Callahan (RMU)
  • Lindsey Linard (Duquesne)

Key Departures

  • Nneka Obiazor (UNLV)
  • Mary Dunn (Pitt)
  • McKenah Peters (Nova Southeastern)

Players to Watch

  • Chelsea Olson, R-Sr/G 2020-21: 10.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.0 APG, All-Horizon League Third Team Honors, Named on the 2021-22 Preseason HL All-League Second Team

The Outlook

Looking at the statistics, the Penguins had a nice roster last season. However, that was last season, and they were only able to make it to the quarterfinals of the Horizon League tournament. They had three players who averaged 10+ PPG and received Horizon League honors (Nneka Obiazor, Mary Dunn, and Chelsea Olson).

The Penguins, unfortunately, lost both Dunn and Obiazor (leading scorer and #2 scorer respectively) to the transfer portal, as they both moved on to bigger D-1 programs. This leaves Youngstown State trying to build around Chelsea Olson, as YSU also lost their #4 scorer, McKenah Peters.

For me, I keep looking back at “What could have been?” for the Penguins as they take the floor for the 2021-22 season. It will be difficult to meet last year’s expectations after losing three of their top four scorers, which is why they slot in at #8.

7. Cleveland State Vikings

2020-21 Record: (14-9 overall, 8-8 conference) Finished 6th in Horizon League, Lost to Wright State 73-62 in semifinals of the 2021 Horizon League Tournament

Top non-conference matchups

  • November 13th vs. St. Bonaventure
  • November 28th vs. LIU
  • December 12th @ Akron

Key Additions

  • Brittni Moore (UT Martin)
  • Deja Williams (Cal State Northridge)

Key Departures

  • Mariah White (Missouri State)

Players to Watch

  • Destiny Leo, So/G 2020-21: 11.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 39.2 3-PT%, Named HL Sixth Player of the Year, earned a spot on the HL All-Freshman Team

The Outlook

Unlike RMU and YSU, Cleveland State lost a lot less, which means they have more to work with this upcoming season. Everyone will lose players, but it all depends on who you lose and when you lose them.

In the case of Cleveland State, they lost Mariah White, but look to rebound with the emergence of a young star in Destiny Leo. Leo averaged 11.4 PPG last season and received numerous HL accolades. She will look to build on her fantastic freshman season with a spectacular sophomore campaign.

The transfer portal was the busiest it’s ever been this offseason, and it was no exception for the Vikings. They bring in experience with Brittni Moore, a sharpshooter in Deja Williams, and Amele Ngwafang, a versatile forward, among others.

The pitfalls that Cleveland State will have to overcome from players graduating and transferring aren’t as deep as others. I believe they can put together a solid season and could potentially finish in the top half if all goes well. This is why they slot in at no. 7.

Be on the lookout for “Plowcha’s Poll: Breaking Down Teams 4-6” in next week’s edition of these rankings.