INDIANAPOLIS – After being the Horizon League regular season and tournament champions in each of the last two years, the Phoenix have been voted as the top team heading into the 2016-17 season. Detroit Mercy’s Rosanna Reynolds was nominated as Player of the Year as head coaches, media, and sports information directors casted their votes.
Green Bay received 29 of 30 first-place votes with Oakland being the only other team to receive a vote.
Rosanna Reynolds is featured on the All-League First Team after being only one of two Division I players to average at least 15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists last season.
Joining Reynolds on the First Team is Ashanti Abshaw who returns for the Vikings after her strong freshman campaign landed her plenty of postseason hardware. The sophomore was named Freshman of the Year and claimed a spot on the Second Team All-League after averaging 16.6 points and 9.6 rebounds. The forward’s points and rebounds from a season ago are tops amongst returning Horizon League players.
Another familiar face joins the First Team as Stephanie Kostowicz is back for the Panther squad that clinched a berth into the WNIT last year. The junior averaged 14.0 points with 8.9 rebounds to earn a spot on the First Team All-League last season.
Mehryn Kraker leads the Phoenix on the Preseason All-League First Team after being on the Second Team All-League just a season ago averaging 11.6 points and 4.2 rebounds. The forward was named Horizon League Tournament MVP after her 32 point outburst in Green Bay’s semifinal victory over Northern Kentucky.
Rounding out the First Team is Sarah Cash. The forward recorded 14.1 ppg and 7.1 rpg to earn Second Team All-League honors. The junior’s .600 field goal percentage ranked fourth in all of Division I basketball last year.
A pair of Phoenix players highlighted the Preseason Second Team All-League in Jessica Lindstrom and Allie LeClaire. Lindstrom is the only returning player from the 2015-16 All-Defensive Team, and aided Green Bay on the offensive end as well scoring 10 points per game to go along with 8.8 rebounds per game. LeClaire finished first on the team in points a season ago tallying over 12 points a game.
Brianne Cohen, Taylor Jones, and Indiya Benjamin also made the Second Team, and will be focal points on their respective teams in the upcoming year. Cohen averaged 15.6 points and 5.7 rebounds for Detroit Mercy coming off the bench and was recognized as the 6th Player of the Year last season. Jones returns for the Golden Grizzlies after being named to the All-Freshman team averaging 13.6 points and 3.7 rebounds. Benjamin rounds out the Second Team scoring 9.9 points per game while tacking on 5.0 assists per game.
The Green Bay Phoenix are the heavy favorite heading into the 2016-17 campaign as the team returns four of its five starters from a year ago. Green Bay’s defense was ranked ninth in the country last year allowing only 48.6 ppg in League play and 52.2 ppg overall.
Detroit Mercy (253 points) came in second in the preseason poll, bringing back nearly everyone from last year’s squad. All five starters return with 99.5 percent of their scoring intact from a season ago.
Milwaukee with 246 points finished third in the poll. The Panthers return over 80 percent of both their points and rebounds from last year’s team that tied for second in the conference with a 12-6 record.
Behind its three-point scoring barrage that ranked top ten in the country in both attempts and makes last season, Youngstown State finished fourth in the preseason poll with 195 points.
Wright State and new coach Katrina Merriweather finished fifth in the preseason poll with 147 points. The Raiders lost over 50 percent of their scoring from a year ago, but the team was under similar circumstances this time last year and finished tied for second in the conference.
Northern Kentucky notched the sixth position in the poll with 132 points. The Norse and their first year head coach Camryn Whitaker has All-Freshman Team member Molly Glick back for her second season.
There was a tie for seventh with Oakland and Cleveland State each receiving 131 points, and returning highly touted sophomores. Valparaiso and UIC rounded out the preseason poll at nine and ten respectively.
The regular season tips off on November 11 with seven teams in action. Horizon League play starts up on December 29 with the season culminating at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit for the Little Caesars Horizon League Women’s Basketball Championship from March 3 through March 7. Every game in the tournament will be available on ESPN3 with the championship game airing on ESPNU.
To learn more about the 2017 Women’s Basketball Tournament, visit the tournament central page at motorcitymadness.horizonleague.com. Tickets for Motor City Madness go on sale starting December 29.