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Photo: Nick Pearce / Atlantic University Sport

8Acadia Axewomen

2016-17 Record: 11-9 — 5th, AUS | Lost Conference Final to Cape Breton (79-61)

Departures – 3: Emily MacLeod, Lauren Miller, Sarah Taylor

Additions – 6: Claire Ayotte, Sarsha Cadle, Rachel Clouatre-Trudeau, Miranda Crawley, Kaisen MacKinnon, Taylor Tolliver

2017-18 Prediction: 16-4  1st, AUS | U SPORTS Final 8

Season Opener: Saturday, November 4 vs. Memorial | 6:00 pm ADT

The Breakdown: Consistent points from last season’s U SPORTS leading scorer Paloma Anderson, combined with a variety of teammates who can produce led the Acadia Axewomen to preseason wins over some of the most dominant teams from the 2016-17 season. Kelsey Rice provides a strong rebounding presence and newcomer Rachel Clouatre-Trudeau has proved she can contribute off the bench, which Acadia will need moving further into the season. If the Axewomen can continue to shoot as well as they are (50% from the field and 45% from three in their last three preseason games), they will be in good shape to dominate Canada’s easternmost conference and make a postseason push that could see them contending for one of the top spots in the country.

7Cape Breton CAPERS

Photo: Cape Breton University

2016-17 Record: 13-7 — 3rd, AUS | U SPORTS Final 8

Departures – 7: Mariano Calvo Aubareda, Rasheeka Gunn, Colleen Keane, Karina Kuchta, Natasha Roach, Kristin Schilz, Jalynn Skeir

Additions – 5: Adrianna Beck, Sarah Hiscock, Alexus King, Ava Prosser, MacKenzee Ryan

2017-18 Prediction: 14-6 — 3rd, AUS | Semifinal exit

Season Opener: Friday, November 3 at UNB | 6:00 pm ADT

The Breakdown: The CAPERS lost two starters who provided them with big minutes, so the first part of the season will be an adjustment for their roster. However, maintaining All-Canadian Alison Keough is a big asset to Cape Breton because Keough is central to their team on both offence and defence. Hannah Brown has the ability to step up offensively and to shoot the ball when her team needs her, so defensively is where Cape Breton will need someone to find their place and shine. Expect Keough to average a double-double, and to see the CAPERS finish in the top three of the AUS. However, in order for them to make it out of their conference they will need players to discover and accept their roles and learn to play around a system that focuses primarily on one player.

6Dalhousie Tigers

Photo: HFX Collective

2016-17 Record: 3-17 — 7th, AUS | Did not qualify for playoffs

Departures – 6: Shelly Brown, Shalyn Field, Hannah Gonzales, Sarah Preston-Thomas, Charlotte Thompson, Megan Thompson

Additions – 5: Meghan Greenland, Ariel Provo, Dzifa Quist, Katelyn Scott, Chelsea Slawter-Wright

2017-18 Prediction: 4-16 — 7th, AUS | Will not qualify for playoffs

Season Opener: Wednesday, November 1 vs. StFX | 6:00 pm ADT

The Breakdown: The Dalhousie Tigers have an ability this season to evenly distribute their scoring and rebounding, making them a harder team to defend than in prior years. Inconsistency will be the challenge for the Tigers, as well as finding ways to finish out the close games they will find themselves in. Diedre Alexander and Robertha Charles have emerged from the preseason as the go-to scorers for Dalhousie, but there are also a handful of players who have the potential to take over the scoring and lead the start of a change in the Tigers’ winning patterns.

5Memorial Sea-Hawks

Photo: Memorial Athletics

2016-17 Record: 11-9 — 6th, AUS | Lost conference quarter-final to Cape Breton (55-53)

Departures – 5: Carolyn Adams, Graciela Diaz-Brito, Sydney Ezekiel, Kelsey McGrath, Katherine Vanden Elzen

Additions – 2: Sammi Deakin-Sharpe, Cameron Longley

2017-18 Prediction: 9-11 — 6th, AUS | Quarter-final exit

Season Opener: Saturday, November 4 at Acadia | 6:00 pm ADT

The Breakdown: The Memorial Sea-Hawks finished in the middle of the AUS conference last year despite their winning record. Memorial is going to struggle to win rebounding battles against the rest of the conference, with their only significant size coming from forwards Cameron Longley and Brooklyn Wright, and will rely on their defence to prevent teams from getting many opportunities to beat them on the boards. New additions Longley and Deakin-Sharpe provide the Sea-Hawks with strong options off the bench, and the team has potential to prove us wrong in this prediction — should they figure out how to play small ball effectively.

4Saint Mary’s Huskies

Photo: Saint Mary’s Athletics

2016-17 Record: 15-5 — 1st, AUS | Lost Conference Semifinal to Acadia (77-71)

Departures – 4: Angelina Carvery, Jenny Lewis, Carlie Nugent, Alexis Sparks

Additions – 5: Michela Barresi, Vanessa Hartley, Kendra MacKinnon, Jayda Veinot, Jada Yeo

2017-18 Prediction: 13-7 — 4th, AUS | Semifinal exit

Season Opener: Friday, November 3 vs. UPEI | 6:00 pm ADT

The Breakdown: The Huskies lost two of their leading scorers from last year in Jenny Lewis and Angelina Carvery, so they will be looking for big games from the likes of Kennisha-Shanice Luberisse and Shanieka Wood as they move further into the regular season. Saint Mary’s should be able to maintain their position in the top echelon of the AUS, and their drop in rank from the end of last season is more based on development of teams around them, than it is on loss of their own. With a few strong outings from their core group of players, the Huskies could find themselves fighting for a spot in the AUS final, but will need to finish out the postseason strong to solidify themselves as a legitimate contender.

3StFX X-Women

Photo: Bryan Kennedy

2016-17 Record: 1-19 — 8th, AUS | Did not qualify for playoffs

Departures – 4: Korenda Colley, Julia Game-Bas, Carolyn Smith, Kimberly Taylor

Additions – 4: Kimberly Kingsbury, Alexandra MacLean, Samantha Minicucci, Tania Tesson

2017-18 Prediction: 2-18 — 8th, AUS | Will not qualify for playoffs

Season Opener: Wednesday, November 1 at Dalhousie | 6:00 pm EST

The Breakdown: After finishing last season with one win, the StFX X-Women will be looking to improve in a number of facets heading into the 2017-18 season. Their ball control will be a challenge, while they try to limit the number of turnovers and pull down some rebounds against the strong teams that they face in this conference. They distribute their shot attempts well, and will be able to have a well-balanced attack throughout the season without relying too heavily on any one scorer.

2UNB Varsity Reds

Photo: The Daily Gleaner

2016-17 Record: 15-5 — 2nd, AUS | Lost Conference Semifinal to Cape Breton (56-52)

Departures – 4: Laura Fox, Caroline Healy, Annika McConaghy, Katelyn Mangold

Additions – 3: Bailey Black, Emily MacLeod, Olivia Penney

2017-18 Prediction: 16-4 — 2nd, AUS | Conference Final exit

Season Opener: Friday, November 3 vs. Cape Breton | 6:00 pm ADT

The Breakdown: Efficient scoring will be the key factor for the UNB Varsity Reds this season; when shooting a lower number of shots at a higher percentage, they are far more successful than when they shoot more. They have been led throughout the preseason by point guard Mikaela Dodig who is running the floor effectively, finding ways to score and distribute. The Varsity Reds will need to lower their number of turnovers if they want to finish atop the AUS, but will be strong contenders to qualify for the U SPORTS Final 8 if they do.

1UPEI Panthers

Photo: UPEI Athletics

2016-17 Record: 11-9 — 4th, AUS | Lost Conference Quarter-final to Acadia (80-66)

Departures – 3: Sydney Goode, Rayelle Morrison, Kaylyn Toner

Additions – 4: Brooke Barter, Reese Baxendale, Annabelle Charron, Lauren Fleming

2017-18 Prediction: 10-10 — 5th, AUS | Quarter-final exit

Season Opener: Friday, November 3 at Saint Mary’s | 6:00 pm ADT

The Breakdown: UPEI has kept their core in place while adding some new options to their roster. After a heavy preseason schedule, they should have a handle on the direction they want to pursue, and will be looking to improve their shooting percentages in difficult games. The Panthers could pull out a winning record again this year if they continue to keep their turnover count low and can rely on at least three of their starters to deliver double-digit scoring night in and night out.

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Jaime Hills

Jaime Hills is one of CUSN’s women’s basketball writers hails. She hails from North Vancouver, and prides herself on her West Coast-inspired way of life, which often finds its way into her writing. Jaime can be found either playing, talking, or writing about basketball and has aspirations of following in the footsteps of Doris Burke. Jaime was the colour commentator for Sportsnet at the 2017 Women’s Basketball Final 8, and served as a host at the 2017 Canada Games in Winnipeg. Along with her CUSN duties, Jaime is an on-air personality and production coordinator for Rams Live.

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