FIBASTORRS (NCAA) - Breanna Stewart, Kia Nurse and their University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma are making headlines ahead of the new NCAA women's basketball campaign.
Auriemma's UConn are the No.1 team in the pre-season rankings that have been announced by the Associated Press.
Stewart, a 1.93m forward who played for the Auriemma-led USA team that won the FIBA World Championship for Women in Turkey only last month, is the American Athletic Conference Pre-Season Player of the Year.
Nurse, the starting point guard of Canada's national team at Turkey 2014, is the conference's pre-season freshman of the year.
That Auriemma's Huskies are atop the pre-season poll comes as no surprise.
His UConn teams have captured the NCAA Women's crown a record nine times dating back to 1995, including earlier this year when they defeated Notre Dame in the title game to cap a perfect 40-win season.
"A lot of rankings are based on what you did last year and what you have coming back," Auriemma said.
"It's nice when people are talking about your program, and we like that feeling."
Stewart is coming off a season in which she was awarded the Naismith Trophy as college basketball's best player.
Other former UConn and USA players to receive that distinction were Rebecca Lobo, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi (twice), Maya Moore (twice) and Tina Charles.
Stewart was also the Most Outstanding Player of the 2014 NCAA Women's Tournament.
Nurse played big minutes for a Canada national side that garnered an impressive fifth-place finish at the World Championship.
Dawn Staley, one of the most decorated players in USA women's basketball history and an assistant for the American team, is the head coach of South Carolina. Her Gamecocks hold the preseason No. 2 ranking behind UConn.
photo Getty Images
photo Getty images
photo Getty Images