Middle Tennessee Top Pick in Preseason C-USA Poll


 

 

Oct. 7, 2013

RUSTON - Middle Tennessee picked up eight first place votes and 244 points to edge UTEP for the top spot in the 2013-14 Conference USA Coaches' Preseason Poll released by the league office on Monday.

Head coach Teresa Weatherspoon's Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters earned 98 points and are in 11th place out of the 16 teams in the poll, which was released the day prior to the C-USA Basketball Media Days which will be held in Dallas Tuesday.

The Lady Techsters return three starters and seven letter winners from last year's team that posted a 14-17 record and finished tied for fourth place in the Western Athletic Conference standings. Tech, which will be competing in its inaugural season as a member of C-USA, opens the season Nov. 10 at South Carolina.

Following Middle Tennessee and UTEP (231, 6) in the poll were Tulane (212), Charlotte (196, 1), FIU (190), Old Dominion (170), East Carolina (155), UAB (129), Tulsa (116), Rice (114), LA Tech (98), North Texas (92, 1), Southern Miss (78), Florida Atlantic (58), UTSA (58) and Marshall (35).

The head coaches had a tough time voting for the eight-member preseason team considering how much star power resides in the league. However, picking a Preseason Player of the Year was an easy selection as the Conference returns the nation's leading scorer in FIU's Jerrica Coley.

Coley (St. Petersburg, Fla.) accounted for an NCAA-best 26.3 points per game last season, edging out future WNBA stars Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner. She's a two-time Associated Press and WBCA All-America Honorable Mention as well as a two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year and SBC First Teamer. This season, the 5-7 senior leads FIU into the new-look C-USA and must stand tall against some of the league's best.

Joining Coley on the preseason all-conference team are Middle Tennessee's Ebony Rowe, Rice's Jessica Kuster, Old Dominion's Shae Kelley, Southern Miss' Jamierra Faulkner, Tulane's Danielle Blagg, UAB's Karisma Chapman and UTEP's Kayla Thornton.

 

 

It's difficult to handicap the new 16-team league because it offers a little bit of everything. Louisiana Tech and Old Dominion are two of the most storied programs in Division I women's basketball history. On the other end of the spectrum, FIU and UTSA are relative newcomers to the Division I level.

The 2013-14 regular season gets underway on Nov. 8, while the battle for the 2014 C-USA Championship trophy will be determined the week of March 11-15 in El Paso, Texas.

2013-14 CONFERENCE USA PRESEASON COACHES POLL

1. Middle Tennessee (8) 244

2. UTEP (6) 231

3. Tulane 212

4. Charlotte (1) 196

5. FIU 190

6. Old Dominion 170

7. East Carolina 155

8. UAB 129

9. Tulsa 116

10. Rice 114

11. Louisiana Tech 98

12. North Texas (1) 92

13. Southern Miss 78

14. Florida Atlantic 58

14. UTSA 58

16. Marshall 35

(#) denotes first-place votes

2013-14 CONFERENCE USA PRESEASON TEAM

Jerrica Coley, FIU

Jessica Kuster, Rice

Ebony Rowe, Middle Tennessee

Shae Kelley, Old Dominion

Jamierra Faulkner, Southern Miss

Danielle Blagg, Tulane

Karisma Chapman, UAB

Kayla Thornton, UTEP