DePauw Women Favorite To Reclaim SCAC Hoops Title in 2009-2010

SUWANEE, Ga. – DePauw University had its streak of three consecutive Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference women's basketball titles snapped last season by Oglethorpe University, but that did not deter the head coaches of the conference from making the Indiana Tigers the prohibitive favorite to win the 2009-10 SCAC league championship.

In exclusive voting by the head coaches of the conference, DePauw received eight of 12 first place votes and finished with 117 total points. The coaches' second choice, Centre College, picked up two first-place votes and 109 total points while third choice, Trinity University, garnered the remaining two first-place votes and 107 total points.

DePauw University is coming off a 22-6 season and with the return of 11 letterwinners including three starters from last year, the Tigers are poised to earn their ninth conference title since joining the league in 1998-99. DePauw made its sixth straight NCAA Division III tournament appearance last year and enter the 2009-10 season ranked seventh in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll and 12th by D3hoops.com. The Tigers return a pair of third team all-SCAC players in junior guard Katie Mathews and senior forward Emily Marshall. Mathews averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 assists per game last year, while Marshall scored at a 9.0 clip and hauled down 9.4 rebounds per outing. Junior guard Brianna Frigerio also returns after averaging 5.3 points per game last year. Senior forward Jenna Fernandez missed last year due to injury, but was a starter in 2007-08 when she averaged 14.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Head Coach Kris Huffman enters her 17th season with the Tigers. Her teams have posted a 354-92 record which included the 2007 NCAA Division III National Championship.

Centre College hopes to build off its 2008-09 breakout season when the Colonels were the fourth-most improved team in the nation. After a 7-16 finish in 2007-08, 2009 SCAC Coach-of-the-Year Wendie Austin-Robinson led her troups to the semifinal round of the SCAC tournament and an 18-9 overall mark - a nine game improvement from the prior season. Centre is returning a majority of its players from last season, including four starters, after only losing two seniors. The Colonels will be led by senior guard Chelsea Goodman, who was named to the 2009 all-SCAC second team. Goodman was ninth in the conference in scoring (14.7 points per game) and led the conference in steals (2.3 per game) last season. Sophomore guard Maggie Prewitt, the 2009 SCAC Newcomer-of-the-Year, was 12th in the SCAC in scoring (12.7 points per game), sixth in assists (3.9 per game) and ninth in steals (2.0 per game). Sophomore center Lauren Huter was 10th in the league in rebounds (7.0 boards per game) and third in blocked shots (2.1 per game).

Trinity University is ranked 18th in the initial Division III ranking of the 2009-10 season, returning four starters from a team that chalked up a 20-8 record last year. Last year marked Trinity's third 20-win season in the past four years. The Tigers, who have eight veteran players on this season's roster, went 12-4 in the SCAC, and advanced to its fifth SCAC Tournament final in seven years. Junior guard Danielle Hubenak, who was named third team all-SCAC last year, finished seventh in the league in scoring (15.1 points per game) and third in assists (4.8 per game). She broke Trinity's record for single-season assists, finishing with 133 last year. She also set a new school record with seven three-pointers in one game, as well as breaking the previous record for single-season three-pointers made. A pair of returning sophomores will also shoulder some of the scoring burden as guard Ali Marzella and forward Abby Dietert finished in the top 15 in the league in scoring - averaging 12.4 points and 12.3 points per game respectively last season. Head Coach Amie Bradley's Tigers were ranked 10th nationally in scoring offense, averaging 76.6 points per contest.

Hendrix College is slotted at fourth and will rely on the play of senior forward Christina Byler, the league's returning scorer at 17.1 points per game. Byler, a second team all-SCAC performer last year, also led the team in rebounding with 7.8 (sixth in the SCAC) caroms per game. First-year Head Coach Thad McCracken, after serving as the men's assistant for the last four seasons, moves over to assume the reigns of the women's program - a program that lost just one senior from last year's roster and welcomes four key returners as the 2009-10 senior leaders. The squad remains on the young side with zero juniors, nine sophomores and three first years. Forwards Lindsay Merritt and Chelsey White as well as guard Amanda Morris are all expected to provide senior leadership.

Oglethorpe University, the defending SCAC champion, finds itself as the coaches' fifth pick after losing one of the more impressive senior classes in conference history. Included among those graduating seniors were the league's top two all-time leading scorers, all-Americans Katie Kulavic (1,952 points) and Anna Findley (1,864 points). Head Coach Ron Sattele has the unenviable task of replacing that senior class which compiled a four-year mark of 97-26, including a 27-4 mark last season and a NCAA Final Four appearance in 2007-08. The Petrels plan to infuse the returning talent with a bevy of freshman recruits and transfers. Among the key returning players are junior guard Chelsea MacDonald (5.2 points per game) and junior forward Ari Brown (4.2 points; 2.5 rebounds per game).

Rhodes College, the coaches' sixth pick, will rely on the senior leadership of sharp-shooting guard Becky Atnip, an all-SCAC third team selection last season after averaging 13.7 points per game (11th in the SCAC). Atnip also finished third in the conference in free throw percentage (84.2%) and seventh in three point field goal percentage (37.1%). Head Coach Matt Dean will also need big play from junior guard Lakeya McGill, who averaged 11.2 points (19th in the SCAC) and 3.4 assists per game (ninth in the SCAC). The Lynx finished with a 13-13 overall mark last season while playing in the always tough SCAC East Division.

After a 15-10 finish in 2008-09, Birmingham-Southern College, in its third year of provisional membership in the SCAC and NCAA Division III, will have its games count in the conference standings for the first time this season. Although the Panthers still cannot advance to postseason play, their play on the court could and probably will affect who does. Head Coach Brad Hodge returns to the court with a freshman-laden team for the 2009-10 season as Birmingham-Southern returns only two starters - junior Katelyn Wilson (8.6 points per game) and sophomore Erin Jackson (9.0 points per game) - and seven players from last year's team, while adding 12 new players to the mix.

The coaches' eighth pick, Austin College will look to return to the conference tournament after missing out on the event the last two seasons. The ‘Roos will be led by senior post Katy Williams - a second team all-SCAC player the last two seasons who averaged a double-double a year ago with 13.9 points (10th in the SCAC) and 10.2 rebounds (second in the SCAC) per game. With 763 career rebounds, Williams is just 246 from equaling the SCAC career mark posted by Trinity's Krista Prato Matthews (1,009). Coach Deb Hunter will also look to senior guards Amber Stafford (7.0 points per game) and Kayla Redden (6.2 points per game), who finished third and fourth on the team in scoring last season, for added scoring punch.

Colorado College and Southwestern University tied as the coaches' ninth selection. Colorado College has to replace versatile all-American Melanie Auguste, who was the SCAC Player-of-the-Year as well as the winner of the prestigious Jostens Trophy while leading her team to a 16-9 mark in 2008-09. If the Tigers are to duplicate last season's success, second-year coach Liz Campbell will need big production from senior forward Eliese Hansberry - one of just two seniors on this year's roster. Hansberry averaged 12.4 points (14th in the SCAC) and 7.8 rebounds (fifth in the SCAC) per game last season. Sophomore forward Becky Luetjen also returns after averaging 9.8 points per game as a freshman.

Southwestern University returns eight players from last year's squad that ended 6-19 overall. Jessica Herbst and Narisa Trammell will be senior leaders in the backcourt while Katie Kern will aid on the block. Herbst was third on the team in assists with 51 and averaged 4.8 points per game. Trammell served as point guard last season, averaging 5.6 points per game and was second on the team in steals with 45. Also included in the bunch of returners is junior center Staley Mullins, who led the team in blocks with 71 - the seventh-most blocked shots in a season in SCAC history. Mullins was also second on the team last year in points and rebounds, averaging 9.7 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game.

The Majors of Millsaps College have been slated as the pre-season 11th ranked team in the league. Coming off its first SCAC Tournament appearance since 2005-06, there is optimism this season in Jackson. The Majors went 10-16 a year ago, the most wins since the 2004-05 season, and look to build off that momentum. The Millsaps roster is full of talented young players, as it returns three starters from last year's team including the team's leading scorer and rebounder sophomore Janice Okeke. Okeke averaged 11.2 points (20th in SCAC) and 7.8 rebounds per game (seventh in SCAC).

The coaches' 12th pick, Sewanee-The University of the South, is looking to improve on last year's 4-20 mark and return to the SCAC tourney after missing last year's event for the first time in three years. Junior forward Lauren Gulley is the team's leading returning scorer (8.9 points per game) and sophomore forward Dani Kabbes, who tied for the team lead in rebounding (5.4 per game), also returns. Senior guards Kelly Morrison and Jamie Robinson will be counted on for leadership as Head Coach Dickie McCarthy finds himself with a 12-person roster that consists of nine first- or second-year players.

The 2009-10 season tips off Sunday, November 15.

 

2009-10 SCAC Women's Basketball Predicted Order of Finish   
Eastern Division      No. of Votes     2008-09 Division    2008-09 Overall 
1. DePauw University    117 (8)  12-2  22-6
2. Centre College    109 (2)  10-4  18-9 
3. Oglethorpe University   76  12-2 27-4 
4. Rhodes College    69  6-8  13-13 
5. Birmingham-Southern College   58 +0-0 15-10
6. Sewanee-Univ. of the South    20  2-12  4-20
         
Western Division    No. of Votes  2008-09 Division  2008-09 Overall
1. Trinity University    107 (2) 11-4 20-8 
2. Hendrix College   82  7-8 14-12
3. Austin College    57  4-11  9-16 
T-4. Colorado College    37  9-6 16-9 
T-4. Southwestern University    37 2-13  6-19 
6. Millsaps College    23  5-10  10-16 

Note: First-place votes (in parentheses) are worth 11 points, second place worth 10 points, on down to 11th-place votes being worth one point. Coaches voted for order of finish 1-11, but did not rank their own team. Results are displayed by division breakdown.

+Games against Birmingham-Southern did not count in the conference standings last year. This year, games against BSC will count in the standings, but BSC is still not eligible to compete in the SCAC postseason basketball tournament or the NCAA postseason tournament.

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