Lady Pirates Tabbed Third In Preseason C-USA Women's Basketball Poll
Oct. 10, 2007
IRVING, Texas - With seven different teams receiving the nod to win the 2008 Conference USA regular season title competition should be at its all-time best. The league's youthful look from a couple of seasons ago has now developed into strength and parity for the 2007-08 season.
Tulane, the 2007 C-USA regular season champion, tops the preseason chart with three first-place votes and 126 points. The following four spots were close as only six points separated the foursome. UTEP appears second with 109 points and one first-place vote, while East Carolina received two top votes and gathered 106 points. SMU and UAB tied for fourth with 103 points each but SMU collected two first place votes to UAB's one.
Tulane posted a 26-7 overall record, won the C-USA regular season title with a 13-3 mark and participated in its 10th postseason event a year ago. The Green Wave looks to expand upon that success as they return three starters and nine letterwinners from last year's team. Head coach Lisa Stockton, C-USA's all-time winningest coach and the 2007 C-USA Coach of the Year, has a well-balanced roster with eight veterans and seven underclassmen. She also sports one of the best point guards in the nation in junior Ashley Langford. Langford was named to the C-USA All-Conference third team after finishing second in the league in assists with 6.27 per game, ninth best in the NCAA.
UTEP had a break-through season last year, setting school records for most wins (22), fewest losses (8) and single-game attendance (7,212) record. Head coach Keitha Adams returns four starters and 81 percent of the team's scoring, including 2008 All-C-USA preseason selection Jareica Hughes. Hughes, a 5-3 guard, became the first UTEP player to be named the Conference USA Newcomer and Freshman of the Year, third team all-conference and selected to the league's five-member all-defensive squad in the same season. She led the Miners in scoring (12.9), assists (4.7) and steals (2.8) per game as a rookie. Her thefts per game was second best in the
league and ranked 27th nationally.
East Carolina enters this season as the defending C-USA Tournament champions and looks to make a run for the 2008 regular season title as head coach Sharon Baldwin-Tener returns three starters and more than 65 percent of the teams scoring and rebounding from a year ago. Headlining the list of returnees is a pair of junior guards in Jasmine Young and LaCoya Terry. Young, a 2008 All-C-USA preseason selection, was named to the 2007 All-C-USA second team and All-Defensive team, while Terry was voted the MVP of the tournament. The duo ranked 13th and 14th, respectively, in the league in scoring, averaging 13.4 and 12.9 points per game. They also ranked among the league's top 15 in assists and assist-to-turnover ratio.
SMU is the most experienced team returning to the court for C-USA. Head coach Rhonda Rompola welcomes back not only her entire starting lineup but nearly 100 percent of her 2007 squad, including redshirt senior forward Katie Gross, who suffered a season-ending injury during the 2006 preseason. In addition to Gross, Rompola boasts preseason All-American candidate Janielle Dodds. Dodds is a 2008 All-C-USA preseason selection as well as being a two-time all-conference first team pick. The senior post player ranked among the league's best in six different categories last season, including fourth in blocked shots (1.40 bpg), fifth in scoring (15.9 ppg), sixth in free throw percentage (.815) and seventh in rebounding (7.5 rpg). Dodds is one of two 1,000-point scorers returning to the league this season. UAB's Crystal McFadden is the other with 1,065 career points.
After red-shirting last season a healthy McFadden returns to the court for the Blazers. The guard is a three-year letterwinner and starter for head coach Audra Smith. Also returning for Smith is 2008 All-C-USA preseason pick Diamond Rogers. Rogers, a 5-11 guard/forward, was voted to the all-conference second team in 2007 after averaging 7.8 rebounds and 15.3 points per game, which ranked sixth and seventh best in the league, respectively. She was also C-USA's second-best 3-point threat, hitting 46.2 percent of her treys.
Rice and Houston also received first place votes in the coaches' preseason poll. The Owls claimed two and the Cougars one, for sixth and seventh-place predications, respectively. However, Houston sports this year's C-USA Preseason Player of the Year in senior guard Tye Jackson. Jackson is a two-time All-C-USA first teamer that ranked fifth in the nation last season in points per game, averaging 22.5. The Houston native also established a C-USA single-game tournament record when she unleashed 43 points in opening action of the 2007 women's basketball championship.
2007-08 C-USA PRESEASON COACHES' POLL 1. Tulane (3) 126 2. UTEP (1) 109 3. East Carolina (2) 106 4. SMU (2) 103 5. UAB (1) 103 6. Rice (2) 88 7. Houston (1) 86 8. Southern Miss 73 9. Marshall 65 10. Tulsa 28 11. UCF 26 12. Memphis 23
2007-08 ALL-C-USA PRESEASON TEAM Student-Athlete School Ht. Cl. Pos. Hometown Janielle Dodds SMU 6-3 Sr. P Fairfax, Va. Jareica Hughes UTEP 5-3 So. G Southfield, Mich. Tye Jackson* Houston 5-10 Sr. G Houston, Texas Diamond Rogers UAB 5-11 Sr. F Jackson, Miss. Jasmine Young East Carolina 5-5 Jr. G Richmond, Va.
* C-USA Preseason Player of the Year