INDIANAPOLIS – Green Bay received 21 of 26 first place votes, tallying 225 points overall, and has been chosen to win the 2013-14 Horizon League women’s basketball championship in a preseason poll of the league’s coaches, sports information directors and media members. Kim Demmings of Wright State was named Preseason Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Demmings is joined on the Preseason First-Team by UIC teammates Katie Hannemann and Rachel Story, Milwaukee’s Angela Rodriguez and Green Bay’s Megan Lukan.
Youngstown State placed two players on the Second-Team in Shar’Rae Davis and Heidi Schlegel. Also on the second team is Oakland’s Olivia Nash, Cleveland State’s Cori Coleman and Green Bay’s Breannah Ranger.
Green Bay is the preseason favorite despite graduating four starters from last year’s team that went 29-3. The Phoenix have won or shared the Horizon League regular season title for 15 consecutive seasons. Over the last three seasons, Green Bay has an incredible 51-1 record in Horizon League regular season contests.
Lukan, the lone returning starter for Green Bay, averaged 7.1 points per game last season and led the team in assists with 4.4 per game. Ranger was Green Bay’s top scorer off the bench last season and its top-returning scorer this year. The senior forward averaged 7.3 points per game last year and 5.1 rebounds per game.
Wright State is second in the poll after receiving one first place vote and 189 points overall. The Raiders finished 12-18 last season, but return their top-five scorers from last season. Demmings, the preseason player of the year, is the top returning scorer in the League after averaging 19.6 points per game last year. She is also the top returning assist player in the League, averaging 4.5 per game last season. Despite her guard status, she also ranked among League leaders last year in rebounding, pulling down 6.1 per game. In addition to the top-five scorers from last season, in addition to last year’s returnees, the Raiders also welcome back junior guard Courtney Boyd, who connected on 85 3-pointers in the 2011-12 season and averaged 9.8 points per game that season, but was injured in the opening minute of WSU’s preseason opener last year and missed the entire 2012-13 season.
Youngstown State is third in the poll after receiving 165 tallies. The Penguins return nine of their top-10 scorers from last season’s 23-10 team that advanced to the second round of the WNIT, but did graduate last year’s Horizon League Player of the Year in Brandi Brown. New Head Coach John Barnes will rely on second-team selections Davis and Schlegel to lead the Penguins. Davis was on the All-Newcomer team last year after averaging 9.6 points per game and was among League leaders in assists (4.3) and turnover-margin (1.52) last year. Schlegel was limited to 22 games last season, but she finished the year second on the team in scoring (9.8) and third on team in rebounding (4.5)
UIC received three first place votes and 146 points overall to finish in fourth. The Flames will be looking for a bounce back season after last year’s squad finished in ninth in the Horizon League. Like Wright State and Youngstown State, UIC returns a lot as the Flames return six of their top-seven scorers from last season, including their top two scorers from last year in Story and Hannemann. Hannemann was a second-team all-league selection last year, while Story was an all-newcomer selection. Story led UIC in scoring last year with a 15.6 point per game average. Hannemann was second on the team with an average of 13.6 points per game and led the team in rebounding at 6.9 per game.
Milwaukee, with three starters back and five of their top six scorers returning, finished fifth in the poll with 136 points. The Panthers will be led by Rodriguez – a preseason first-team All-HL selection – who led the team in scoring last season, averaging 13.2 points per game and was also one of the top 3-pointer shooters in the League, connecting on 65 3-pointers. Also back for the Panthers are junior forward Ashley Green (11.6 ppg., 6.2 rpg) and senior guard Emily Decorah (11.1 ppg). Decorah led the HL in 3-point shooting last season, making 95 3-pointers and connecting on 40% of her 3-point attempts. UWM returned 76% of its scoring from last year, one of three teams in the HL along with WSU and UIC to return more than 75% of its scoring from the previous season.
Detroit received one first-place vote and finished with 99 points to edge out Cleveland State (97) for sixth place. The Titans return two starters from last year’s team that went 21-13 and won the WBI. The two returning starters both reside in the backcourt in senior guard Senee Shearer (11.6 ppg., and made 53 3-pointers in 20 games last season) and sophomore guard Rosanna Reynolds (7.8 ppg., 4.0 apg. and 1.73 assist-turnover ratio). Reynolds was on the All-Newcomer team last season. UDM will need frontcourt players to develop and produce quickly as Titans return players that combined to grab just 295 of the 1333 rebounds the Titans collected last season. (22.1% of rebounds returning).
Like Detroit and Youngstown State, Cleveland State will have to replace a first-team All-League performer as the Vikings lost Shalonda Winton to graduation. Winton led the League in scoring last year (22.0 ppg.) and ranked second in rebounding (10.8). She was also the Defensive Player of the Year after being the only player in the League to rank in the top-five in both blocks and steals. The Vikings do return 3 of their top five scorers from last season though, led by Coleman. The junior guard averaged 12.5 points per game last season and ranked as one of the top shooters in the League last year, connecting on 43% of her field goal attempts. Coleman made 54 3-pointers and shot 37% from 3-point range. Fellow junior guard Kiersten Green is also back for CSU. Green averaged 10.2 points per game and her 62 steals last season ranked fifth in the League.
Oakland, preparing for its first season in the Horizon League, was picked eighth in the preseason poll with 73 points. The HL newcomers return their top-three scorers from last season, led by Nash who led OU in scoring (11.9 ppg) and rebounding (8.0) last season as she was named Summit League Freshman of the Year and all-league second team by CollegeSportsMadness.com. Also back for Oakland is sophomore guard Elena Popkey and senior guard Victoria Lipscomb. Popkey was second on Oakland in points and rebounding averaging 11.4 points and 5.2 rebounds and was named to the Summit League’s All-Newcomer team. Lipscomb led Oakland with 92 assists and 64 steals last year. Her 64 steals are the most of any returning player in the HL.
Valparaiso rounds out the preseason poll in ninth place. The Crusaders lost their top three-scorers from last season. The top-returning scorer is senior guard Charae Richardson. Richardson averaged 7.8 points per game last season and led HL in free throw shooting, hitting 84 percent from the line. Also back for the Crusaders is sophomore guard Jessi Wiedemann who was one of the top freshmen in the League last season. In addition, Valpo welcomes fifth-year senior transfer Elizabeth Hamlet, who played at Oakland last year. She played in all 29 games including 25 starts for the Golden Grizzlies last year. She averaged 6.4 points per games and led the team with a 42.6% field goal percentage and was second in free-throw percentage at 78.5%.
The 2013-14 women’s basketball season beings on Friday, Nov. 8. The 2014 Horizon League Women’s Basketball Championship is set for March 10, 12, 14 and 16.
2013-14 PRESEASON VOTING
Rank School (1st) Points
1. Green Bay (21) 225
2. Wright State (1) 189
3. Youngstown State 165
4. UIC (3) 146
5. Milwaukee 136
6. Detroit (1) 99
7. Cleveland State 97
8. Oakland 73
9. Valparaiso 40
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Kim Demmings, Wright StateALL-LEAGUE TEAM
Kim Demmings, G Wright State
Katie Hannemann, C UIC
Rachel Story, G UIC
Angela Rodriguez, G Milwaukee
Megan Lukan, G Green Bay
Olivia Nash, F Oakland
Shar’Rae Davis, G Youngstown State
Cori Coleman, G Cleveland State
Breannah Ranger, F Green Bay
Heidi Schlegel, F Youngstown State