The ACC Women’s Basketball tournament, which will be somewhere other than Greensboro Coliseum for the first time since 1999 and outside North Carolina for the first time since 1996, will be played in Conway, S.C., the league announced Wednesday.
The tournament will be played March 1-5 at the 3,500-seat HTC Center on the campus of Coastal Carolina University in Conway.
Nora Lynn Finch, associate commissioner for women’s basketball, followed up a league statement released Wednesday morning with an official announcement at ACC women’s basketball media day at the Westin Charlotte.
The basketball tournament was moved from Greensboro in September, two days after the NCAA pulled its championships out of North Carolina because of House Bill 2, when the ACC announced it would move the 10 neutral-site championships it had scheduled in the state during the 2016-17 academic year.
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The conference also announced the results of its preseason polls by the Blue Ribbon Panel – made up primarily of media members – and the league coaches as well as its preseason all-star selections.
Notre Dame was the overwhelming choice to repeat as champion for the fourth year in a row. Duke was picked sixth and N.C. State seventh in both polls, with North Carolina eighth and Georgia Tech ninth in the panel’s poll and the Tar Heels and Yellow Jackets switching places in the coaches’ poll.
“We had a great year,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, whose team finished 33-2 last season. “I thought going through the ACC undefeated and then winning the tournament was quite an accomplishment. We should have gotten another round or two in the NCAA tournament (beyond just the Sweet 16), but it’s OK. It’s something that has really driven us. We’ve got a point guard (Lindsay Allen) who controls the team and doesn’t need a lot of direction. We’ve got a team that’s really unselfish, and everybody buys in.”
Last season marked the first time since 1988 that no team from the Triangle was selected for the NCAA tournament.
“I was very proud of last season,” said Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie, whose team will look to improve on last season’s 20-12 mark. “We fought hard through injuries. We’re excited about our leadership this season. We’re stronger, better and quicker and will have an up-tempo game. Obviously adding a great point guard (junior Maryland transfer Lexie Brown) and we’re excited about how Becca (Greenwell) has come back from her injuries.”
The Blue Devils will open at Liberty on Nov. 11, with the home opener against Pennsylvania on Nov. 13.
N.C. State (20-11 last season) was perhaps the most surprised not to have qualified for the NCAA.
“It was disappointing,” said Wolfpack coach Wes Moore, whose team returns four senior starters including guards Miah Spencer, Dominique Wilson and Ashley Williams and forward Jennifer Mathurin “I thought we had a good resume. But we can use that as motivation and keep that feeling we had since March fresh on our minds and have a little chip on our shoulder.”
The Wolfpack, which played its home games at Broughton High’s Holliday Gym last season, will open the season at the renovated Reynolds Coliseum on Nov. 12 against Wofford.
UNC (14-18) will look to bounce back after its first losing season since 1996.
“The best takeaway was these two sophomores (ACC rookie of the year Stephanie Watts and backcourt mate NCAA minutes-played leader Destinee Walker),” said UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell, who recently received a two-year contract extension through 2019-20. “They’ve gotten a whole lot better since last year. And then we went to Scotland and Ireland this summer and had 18 practices with them and our seven freshmen. I think we’ve got the best freshman class in the country.”
The Tar Heels will open at home Nov. 11 against Alabama State.
Louisville’s Myisha Hines-Allen was named preseason player of the year, while Duke’s Greenwell was the only player from a North Carolina school named to the 10-player preseason all-conference team. Duke’s Brown and freshman teammate Leaonna Odom were named to the five-player “newcomer watch list.”
In addition to basketball, the other ACC championships that were relocated due to HB2 were football, women’s soccer, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s tennis, women’s golf, men’s golf and baseball.
The law, which Gov. Pat McCrory signed last March, limits anti-discriminatory protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. A more publicized part of the law stipulates which bathrooms transgender people can use. On state property, the law mandates that people use the bathroom for the gender specified on their birth certificate.
Critics of HB2, which has become a central focus of a fierce gubernatorial race between McCrory and Democratic challenger Roy Cooper, say it’s discriminatory. Proponents of HB2 say it protects bathroom privacy.
Preseason Panel ranking
*The coaches’ poll had Georgia Tech No. 8 and UNC No. 9, with Boston College No. 13 and Pitt No. 14.
Preseason All-ACC Team
*Myisha Hines-Allen, Louisville
Rebecca Greenwell, Duke
Leticia Romero, Florida State
Shakayla Thomas, Florida State
Mariya Moore, Louisville
Asia Durr, Louisville
Adrienne Motley, Miami
Brianna Turner, Notre Dame
Lindsay Allen, Notre Dame
Alexis Peterson, Syracuse
*Preseason player of the year.
Newcomer watch list
Lexie Brown, Duke
Leaonna Odom, Duke
Chatrice White, Florida State
Erin Boley, Notre Dame
Jackie Young, Notre Dame