By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications and Sports Information
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Vanguard (Calif.) kicks off the 2013-14 season as the No. 1 team in the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Lions, who reached the quarterfinals of last year’s NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, received four first-place votes and 243 points en route to their 29th top mention dating back to the 1999-2000 season.
Vanguard, the reigning Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) Tournament champion, is predicted to win its 11th GSAC title under the leadership of three-time NAIA Coach of the Year Russ Davis. First team NAIA All-American Nicole Ballestero headlines the returners for the Lions. Ballestero’s 21.4 points per game last season led the team and ranked third in the NAIA. She also was one of the national leaders in 3-point field goal percentage a season ago, converting 42.6 percent (58-of-136) to rank sixth in the NAIA.
Perennial powerhouse Oklahoma City – a quarterfinalist at last year’s national championship – claims the No. 2 position with three first-place votes and 238 points. The Stars have not been ranked outside of the top 10 since being No. 12 on March 11, 2009 – a span of 50-straight polls. Oklahoma City, who finished 28-4 last season, returns three seniors – Autumn Huffman, Kayla MacKenzie and Cara Pugh – all of which saw time in all 32 games last season. The Stars have won or shared every regular-season Sooner Athletic Conference crown since 2009.
Defending national champion Westmont (Calif.), led by 2013 NAIA-Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Association (WBCA) Coach of the Year Kirsten Moore, collected 231 points to earn the No. 3 position. Despite losing last year’s WBCA Player of the Year Tugce Canitez, the Warriors return a strong squad led by Esther Lee and Kelsie Sampson. Sampson was second on the team in scoring at 12.4 points per game, followed closely by Lee’s 11.5 points per game average.
Rounding out the top five are No. 4 Georgetown (Ky.) and No. 5 Westminster (Utah) with 223 and 222 points, respectively. The Tigers also received one first-place vote. This is the first top five rating for Georgetown since Jan. 11, 2005, while Westminster ranked among the top five in 12-of-13 polls last season.
No. 6 Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), who is playing in its first season as a member of the American Midwest Conference (AMC), received the poll’s remaining two first-place votes. The Lady Lions ended last year with a 34-2 record after falling in the national championship semifinals to Westmont, 59-49.
The Mid-South Conference with five – Georgetown, No. 7 Cumberland (Tenn.), No. 9 Campbellsville (Ky.), No. 11 Shawnee State (Ohio) and No. 21 Cumberlands (Ky.) – boasts the most teams among the Top 25. The AMC is second with four programs – Freed-Hardeman, No. 13 Columbia (Mo.), No. 19 William Woods (Mo.) and No. 24 Lyon (Ark.).
Georgetown made the biggest improvement from last year’s Postseason Poll – a nine-spot jump. Freed-Hardeman, Cumberland and No. 22 Wiley (Texas) fell the furthest, dropping three places each.
Cumberlands, No. 23 Oklahoma Baptist and No. 25 LSU Shreveport (La.) were the newcomers to the poll. Cumberlands and LSU Shreveport were both ranked during last year, while Oklahoma Baptist is receiving its first Top 25 mention since Oct. 25, 2010.
The first regular-season Top 25 Poll will be announced Dec. 10.
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and independents. For the entire 2013-14 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll schedule, click here.
Notes: (all information dates back to 1999-2000) The No. 1 ranking is the 29th time Vanguard (Calif.) has claimed the top spot … Five teams were ranked No. 1 during the 2012-13 season: Westmont (Calif.), Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), Oklahoma City, Vanguard and former member Lubbock Christian (Texas) … Former member Union (Tenn.) leads all schools with 53, while Oklahoma City (46), Vanguard (29) and former member Southern Nazarene (Okla.) (15) are the only programs with 10-plus No. 1 rankings … Since the start of the 19992-2000 season, only Oklahoma City and Freed-Hardeman have been listed in all 166 polls … Vanguard has appeared in 133-straight … No. 4 Georgetown is making its first appearance among the top five since Jan. 11, 2005 … No. 23 Oklahoma Baptist is receiving its first ranking since Oct. 25, 2010 …Thirty-five programs garnered Top 25 mention in 2012-13 … Union and Vanguard are the only programs to have spent an entire season ranked No. 1 (Union: 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11) (Vanguard: 2005-06, 2006-07).2013-14 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Top 25 Poll (Oct. 29)
|RANK||LAST TIME^||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2012-13 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||8||Vanguard (Calif.) (4)||26-4||243|
|2||5||Oklahoma City (3)||28-4||238|
|4||13||Georgetown (Ky.) (1)||23-10||223|
|6||3||Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) (2)||34-2||217|
|8||9||MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||30-3||194|
|10||12||The Master’s (Calif.)||25-6||181|
|11||15||Shawnee State (Ohio)||24-10||167|
|17||23||Our Lady of the Lake (Texas)||30-4||110|
|19||22||William Woods (Mo.)||26-7||106|
|20||25||Southern Poly (Ga.)||25-6||95|
|25||RV||LSU Shreveport (La.)||25-6||53|
Others receiving votes: Central Methodist (Mo.) 42; San Diego Christian (Calif.) 35; Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) 31; Talladega (Ala.) 29; Biola (Calif.) 21; John Brown (Ark.) 20; Baker (Kan.) 6; Southern New Orleans (La.) 5; Texas Wesleyan 3; Coastal Georgia 3.
^ Based on 2012-13 Postseason Coaches’ Poll