By: Sam Knehans, Communications and Sports Information Intern
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Defending national champion Indiana Wesleyan sits atop the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Wildcats received all 13 first place votes and 343 total points to earn their ninth No. 1 ranking over the past 10 polls. Indiana Wesleyan won its second national title when it defeated Davenport (Mich.), 61-43, on March 12.
The Wildcats won an NAIA-best 35 games, finishing 35-3 in 2012-13. This year, the Wildcats will be without 2013 State Farm-NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship MVP and First Team All-America forward Paige Smith. Smith (16.34) and Claire Ray (10.26), whom Indiana Wesleyan lost to graduation, were the only Wildcats to average 10 points per game last season. Key returners for Indiana Wesleyan include: Taylor Goshert, who was second on the team in rebounds per game (6.16), Emma Stahl, who led the team in assists per game (2.37), and Teneil Krebs, who led the team by shooting nearly .450 from beyond the arc (.446).
Defending national runner-up Davenport accumulated 328 points to hold the No. 2 position. The Panthers were 34-3 last season behind First Team All-America guard Karli Harris. This year, Davenport will be without Harris, who led the team in points per game (14.83) and assists per game (3.19) last season. Sophomore forward and 2013 All-America Honorable Mention Tiesha Stokes is the key returner for the Panthers. She led the team in rebounds per game (6.94) and double-doubles (8) and was second to Harris in points per game (13.36) during her freshman season.
Morningside (Iowa), which was ranked among the top six teams for the entirety of the 2012-13 season, accrued 320 points to hold the No. 3 position from the postseason poll. The Mustangs, who were 31-5 in 2012-13, fell 65-64 to Indiana Wesleyan in the national championship tournament semifinals. Morningside will look to replace two-time First Team All America guard Chelsie Trask, who led the team in points per game (13.47) and was second on the team in assists per game (2.33) and steals per game (1.58). Junior forward and 2012-13 All-America Honorable Mention Ashlynn Muhl is the key returner for the Mustangs. She led the team in rebounds per game (7.40) and double-doubles (6) and was second to Trask in points per game (11.49).
Saint Francis (Ind.) and Concordia (Neb.) round out the top five with 313 and 299 points, respectively. Both were 2013 national championship tournament teams and each finished with over 25 wins, the Cougars were 32-4 and the Bulldogs were 27-7. Saint Francis will be led by Second Team All-America guard Kayla Drake. Last season, Drake led the Cougars in points per game (15.78), assists per game (3.11) and steals per game (3.17). Concordia’s key returner is First Team All-America guard Kristen Conahan who paced the Bulldogs in points per game (15.78) and assists per game (3.25). Conahan was also a Second Team All-American in 2012.
There were five newcomers to the Preseason Top 25: No. 14 Southwestern (Kan.), No. 20 Grace (Ind.), No. 22 Mayville State (N.D.), No. 23 College of Saint Mary (Neb.) and No. 25 St. Ambrose (Iowa). This is the first Top 25 mention for Grace (Ind.) since Feb. 13, 2012. All of the other newcomers are returning to the poll after being ranked during the 2012-13 season.
Valley City State (N.D.), Friends (Kan.), Concordia (Mich.), St. Thomas (Fla.) and Bethel (Ind.) fell out of the poll.
The Great Plain Athletic Conference (GPAC) and the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) lead all conferences, independents and unaffiliated groupings with four teams among the Top 25. Morningside, Concordia (Neb.), No. 7 Northwestern (Iowa) and No. 12 Briar Cliff (Iowa) are ranked from the GPAC. No. 6 Roosevelt (Ill.), No. 9 Saint Xavier (Ill.), No. 15 Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) and No. 21 Purdue Calumet (Ind.) are ranked from the CCAC.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences, independents and unaffiliated groupings. For the entire 2013-14 Coaches’ Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
Notes: (All information dates back to the 1999 – 2000 season) Indiana Wesleyan has appeared at the top of the poll on 34 occasions, the most of any program, followed by Morningside (Iowa) with 20… Fourteen different teams have earned the No. 1 ranking all-time… Three schools have spent an entire season ranked No. 1: Morningside in 2008-09, College of the Ozarks (Mo.) in 2007-08 and Saint Francis (Ind.) in 1999-2000… In the last 13 years, six teams that were ranked No. 1 in the preseason have gone on to win the national championship, with the last being Northwestern (Iowa) in 2011 and 2012… Morningside (117), College of the Ozarks (110) and Saint Xavier (Ill.) (104) are the only teams who have been ranked in the Top 25 for over 100 consecutive weeks… Since 2007, the only national champion to hail from a conference other than the GPAC is Indiana Wesleyan (2007, 2013).
2013 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll (Oct. 29)
|RANK||LAST TIME^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2012-13 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||1||Indiana Wesleyan (13)||35-3||343|
|4||6||Saint Francis (Ind.)||32-4||313|
|9||15||Saint Xavier (Ill.)||25-7||244|
|T10||8||College of the Ozarks (Mo.)||30-5||241|
|12||12||Briar Cliff (Iowa)||25-10||216|
|13||16||College of Idaho||22-9||202|
|15||13||Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)||27-8||176|
|16||23||Siena Heights (Mich.)||23-9||172|
|17||17||Grand View (Iowa)||22-7||156|
|21||20||Purdue Calumet (Ind.)||21-10||99|
|22||RV||Mayville State (N.D.)||20-6||95|
|23||RV||College of Saint Mary (Neb.)||13-3||91|
|25||RV||St. Ambrose (Iowa)||24-7||81|
Others Receiving Votes: Tabor (Kan.) 63; Northwood (Fla.) 43; Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 40; Tennessee Wesleyan 39; Alice Lloyd (Ky.) 26; Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 25; Madonna (Mich.) 23; Valley City State (N.D.) 19; Union (Ky.) 13; Kansas Wesleyan 13; Oregon Tech 11; Taylor (Ind.) 10; Friends (Kan.) 8; Point Park (Pa.) 6; Concordia (Mich.) 4; William Penn (Iowa) 3.
^ 2013 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Postseason Top 25 Poll (March 20)