Thursday, October 22, 2009

Women, as reported, tabbed fifth in OVC

As reported in The Star earlier this week, the JSU women's basketball team is projected fifth in the preseason OVC coaches poll and placed two players on the preseason all-conference team.

The conference announced the poll and preseason team Thursday as part of its preseason media day. It wouldn't confirm the Star's report earlier in the week although JSU officials reported the Gamecocks position at their school's board of trustees meeting Monday.

The Gamecocks picked up 84 points in the voting. They were picked fifth last year, too, but just barely made it into the OVC Tournament.

"I really feel last year for us we could've been one of those teams that was fifth and in a position to knock somebody off in the top four, but with the loss of Cierra Duhart it really just left us shorthanded in our post position," JSU women's coach Becky Geyer said. "The best thing for us this year is we filled that void and we filled our void in our point guard position, so we are a much better team and a much more well-balanced team as well."

Morehead State was made the narrow choice to win the league, one point ahead of Austin Peay. It's the fourth time in the history of the preseason poll the top two teams have been separated by one point or less -- and the first time since 1995-96 (Middle Tennessee over Tennessee Tech).

Tennessee State and Eastern Illinois were picked third and fourth, but nearly 30 points separate the four projected first-round tournament hosts and the rest of the league.

"If you look at the fact there's one returning all-conference player overall in the league, I honestly think it's really open for anybody to get in there and take it," Geyer said. "Definitely, Austin Peay and Morehead have a lot of returning players and you have to give them the respect of having those returning players, but I do really feel it's going to be who comes through in the end of February, the beginning of March, and we feel like we're going to be one of those teams. We have the ability to be one of those teams."

Jolie Efezokhae and Brittany Wiley made the 10-team preseason All-OVC team. Morehead State's Chynna Bozeman was voted preseason player of the year.

The men's poll and preseason team will be announced next Thursday. The JSU men will be sixth, their highest projection since joining the league.

Here's the women's projected order of finish

1. Morehead State (Nine first-place votes) -147
2. Austin Peay (Six first-place votes) - 146
3. Tennessee State (Four first-place votes) - 134
4. Eastern Illinois (One first-place votes) - 111
5. Jacksonville State - 84
6. Murray State - 79
7. Southeast Missouri - 67
8. Tennessee Tech - 58
9. Eastern Kentucky - 54
10. UT Martin - 18

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