BEAVERTON, Oregon – Arkansas Tech Women's Basketball has been tabbed as the preseason favorite to cut down the nets as national champions at the end of the season in St. Joseph, MO as the Golden Suns are ranked No. 1 in this season's Women's Division II Bulletin Preseason Top 25 Poll that was released on Tuesday.
The Women's Division II Bulletin, which has been published since 1993, is the leading publication covering Division II women's basketball in the country.
Tech, who enters the 2010-11 season as the third all-time winnningest NCAA D-II women's basketball program with 819 victories, returns four starters, including senior First-Team All-American guard Jenny Vining (Marshall, Ark.) and 10 letterwinners from last season's 31-3 team that advanced to the NCAA D-II Elite Eight and won its first Gulf South Conference Championship since 2003. Tech was one of two GSC teams mentioned in this year's preseason poll and one of four schools from the South Region.
Joining Vining as returning starters this season are senior guard Laura Beth Anderson (Springdale, Ark.), junior forward Natalia Santos (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and sophomore forward Jessica Weatherford (Bonnerdale, Ark.). Anderson averaged 8.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game last season, while Santos, who was named the MVP of the GSC Tournament, averaged 16.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in 2009-10 and Weatherford, who was named to the Division II Bulletin All-Freshman Team and was named the South Region Most Outstanding Player last season, averaged 12.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
In addition to Tech, Delta State (27-4), who Tech defeated 73-62 in last season's D-II South Regional final at Tucker Coliseum, was tabbed second in the Preseason Division II Bulletin poll. The Lady Statesmen return its entire starting lineup and more than 70 points per game from last season's squad. SIAC members, Fort Valley State (26-3) and Benedict (22-9), who Tech defeated 65-48 in the first round of the South Regional last year, were named as other teams to watch this coming season.
Following Tech and Delta State in the Preseason poll is Tusculum (23-10 last season), who advanced to last year's D-II Elite Eight, is ranked third. Holy Family (30-3 last season) is ranked fourth and they are followed by West Texas A&M (30-4 last season) at No. 5. Tech and West Texas A&M will meet in Tucker Coliseum for a non-conference showdown on Dec. 29.
The next five begins with Indianapolis (26-4 last season) at No. 6 and the Greyhounds are followed by UC-San Diego (25-5 last season) at No. 7 and Lander (27-4 last season) at No. 8. Alaska-Anchorage (24-5 last season) opens the season ranked ninth and Bentley (19-11 last season) rounds out the Top 10 at No. 10.
Northeastern State (28-7 last season) opens the 2010-11 campaign at No. 11 and the RiverHawks are followed by California [PA] (24-8 last season) at No. 12 and Seattle Pacific (27-4 last season), who also advanced to the Elite Eight last year, is at No. 13. Wayne State [NE] (26-5 last season) begins the season at No. 14, while Drury (28-7 last season) is at No. 15 and Charleston [WV] (20-9 last season) is ranked 16th. Cal State-Chico (23-10 last season) is at No. 17 and they are followed by Fort Lewis (35-4 last season), the defending NCAA D-II National Runners-up, at No. 18, Washburn (27-4 last season) is at No. 19 and Grand Valley State (18-10 last season) rounds out the Top 20 at No. 20.
Pace (22-8 last season) opens the season ranked 21st, while Barton (22-6 last season) is at No. 22 and defending D-II National Champion Emporia State (27-5 lasr season) opens the 2010-11 season ranked 23rd. West Liberty State (22-10 last season) is at No. 24 and Clayton State (24-7 last season) completes the preseason poll at No. 25.
Joining Fort Valley State and Benedict as other teams to watch in the Preseason Women's Division II Bulletin Poll were Carson-Newman, Concordia-St. Paul, Augustana [SD], Findlay, Southern Indiana, Northern Kentucky, Wisconsin-Parkside, Humboldt State, Western Washington, Grand Canyon, Bridgeport, Millersville [PA] and Indiana [PA].
Tech, who opens preseason practice for the 2010-11 season on Oct. 15, will open its 33rd season of competition on Sunday, Nov. 14 at home against St. Gregory's. Tip-off for the season opener is set for 2 p.m. at Tucker Coliseum.