Lady Pirates LaToya Horton, Cherie Mills Make "Players To Watch" List
Oct. 18, 2005
IRVING, Texas - Coming off the most successful season in team history, including a Western Athletic Conference championship and a second berth in the NCAA Tournament, Rice has been chosen by the 12 Conference USA women's basketball head coaches to win the 2005-06 regular season title. Owls' junior forward Lauren Neaves, who led her squad in scoring (13.2 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg), has also been selected by the coaches as the C-USA Preseason Player of the Year.
Last season Rice closed out its WAC history with a 24-9 overall record and will enter C-USA action with not only a new league affiliation, but a new head coach. Greg Williams, a Rice graduate and former Southwest Conference MVP for the Owls, takes over for Cristy McKinney, who became head coach at Clemson in June.
Neaves, who was a first-team All-WAC selection as a freshman and earned WAC Tournament MVP honors in her sophomore stanza, paced the Owls to a conference championship and NCAA berth with double-doubles in the final five games of the 2004-05 season. The junior set a Rice all-time record for career blocks at 157 with her 73 additions last season.
Houston finished second in the 2005-06 preseason coaches' poll after participating in postseason play for the second consecutive year and fourth in the past five seasons. The Cougars, who posted a 21-9 overall record last season, must replace four starters, including the NCAA Division I rebound leader Sancho Lyttle. UH will have six new faces join the five returning letterwinners, led by sophomore Jasmin Moore. The Houston native led all Cougars with 35 three-pointers and 118 trey attempts in her rookie campaign.
SMU rounded the third spot in the coaches' preseason poll, while Marshall and Tulsa finished fourth and fifth, respectively. The Mustangs return all five starters, including sophomore post player Janielle Dodds, who set five SMU freshman records and earned WAC Newcomer of the Year.
In lieu of a preseason all-conference team, the league office announced a C-USA "Players to Watch" list. Twelve guards line the preseason chart, while nine forwards and two centers wrap up the 23-player watch list. Each of the members is expected to make significant contributions to their respective team.
2005-06 PRESEASON POLL