Rock Hill, S.C. – The Brevard College women’s basketball team was picked to finish ninth in the Pre-Season South Atlantic Women’s Basketball Coaches Poll announced Wednesday morning at the 2008-09 South Atlantic Conference Basketball Media Day hosted in Hickory, N.C.
The Tornados, who will be under the direction of new head coach Shannon Reid, are in their first season as both full NCAA Division II and South Atlantic Conference members and are eligible to compete for championship tournament play.
Last season, the Tornados were 8-19 overall as BC competed in the SAC as provisional members.
Tusculum College, which returns all five starters from last year’s squad that won the South Atlantic Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history, is the pick to win the 2008-09 title.
Tusculum received seven first-place votes and 79 total points.
The Pioneers also led the way with three selections to the preseason All-Conference team. Returning All-American Stephany Neptune is joined on the first team by Ashli Oliver, the SAC’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made, and point guard Jasmine Gunn, the 2007-08 SAC Freshman of the Year.
Wingate University, the 2008 Food Lion SAC Tournament championship team, is picked to finish second. Wingate finished last season ranked 10th and return 11 letterwinners off that squad. The Bulldogs advanced to the Elite Eight in 2008 and return the 2008 Player of the Year and SAC Female Athlete of the Year in guard Anna Atkinson. Erica Crumlin, who led the SAC in blocked shots last year, was named to the preseason All-Conference second team.
Carson-Newman College is picked to finish third. The Lady Eagles received 51 points.
Returning All-Conference selection Shari Buford starts on the season on the preseason All-Conference first team. Ashley Tipton, one of the league’s top three-point shooters, was named to the second team.
Lenoir-Rhyne University is picked to finish fourth. The Bears picked up 49 points.
The Bears bring back 11 letter winners from last season, including the starting backcourt combo of Amber Holt and Jami Safrit. Holt led the team in scoring and assists last season and was named to the preseason All-Conference first team. Safrit was third on the team in scoring and led the Bears in steals and was named to the preseason All-Conference second team.
Mars Hill College received 45 points for fifth place in the coaches poll.
Jessica Blanford, who averaged 12.9 points and 4.8 rebounds last season, was named to the preseason All-Conference second team.
Newberry College is sixth in the poll with 39 points. Newberry will be under the direction of first-year coach Sean Page.
Catawba College received 34 points for seventh place.
Lincoln Memorial University received 25 points for eighth place. The Lady Railsplitters also have a new coach in Stephanie Smith, but also bring back junior forward Andi Winney, who averaged 14 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last season and was named to the preseason All-Conference second team.
2008-09 Women’s Coaches Preseason Poll
Team (first-place) Total
1. Tusculum (7) 79
2. Wingate (2) 72
3. Carson-Newman 51
4. Lenoir-Rhyne 49
5. Mars Hill 45
6. Newberry 39
7. Catawba 34
8. Lincoln Memorial 25
9. Brevard 11
Women’s Preseason All-Conference
Shari Buford, Carson-Newman
Amber Holt, Lenoir-Rhyne
Jasmine Gunn, Tusculum
Stephany Neptune, Tusculum
Ashli Oliver, Tusculum
Anna Atkinson, Wingate
Ashley Tipton, Carson-Newman
Denise Moore, Lenoir-Rhyne
Jami Safrit, Lenoir-Rhyne
Andi Winney, Lincoln Memorial
Jessica Blanford, Mars Hill
Erica Crumlin, Wingate