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2015-16 Horizon League women’s basketball preview

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William Borland, Contributor

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Teams ranked in predicted order in Horizon League preseason poll.

#1 – Green Bay

Head Coach- Kevin Borseth

2014-2015: First place in the Horizon League last year with a 15-1 conference record and a 28-5 overall record

Green Bay was the regular season and conference tournament champions of the Horizon League last year and they are the preseason favorite to repeat as conference champions. They have won the regular season title in the Horizon League a staggering 17 years in a row. They are returning 10 players and four starters from last year’s dominant team that made it to the NCAA Tournament as a 6-seed but lost their first round matchup to 11th seeded and undefeated Princeton. The Phoenix were a young team last season led by Tesha Buick (11.6 points per game) and Mehryn Kraker (12.5 ppg).

 

#2 -Wright State

Head Coach- Mike Bradbury

2nd place in the Horizon League last year with a 12-4 conference record and a 25-9 overall record

Wright State lost some very talented seniors from last year’s team that challenged Green Bay for the top spot, but they are returning their star player and 2014 Horizon League player of the year in guard Kim Dennings. She led the conference in scoring at 22.4 points per game. But in the first game of the season last year she severely injured her foot and missed the whole season. The last time she played a full season the Raiders knocked off Green Bay in the Horizon League championship game to go to the NCAA Tournament as an automatic bid.

#3 – UIC (University of Illinois-Chicago)

Head Coach- Regina Miller

6th place in the Horizon League last year with a 6-10 conference record and a 16-14 record overall

UIC didn’t have that strong of a year a season ago, but they were picked to finish this upcoming season in third place partly because they do have the reigning defensive player of the year and the preseason player of the year Ruvanna Campbell. She averaged 18.3 points per game and 15.4 rebounds per game. The Flames also have another player who was named to the preseason second team in Terri Bender who averaged 14.5 points, 4.3 assists and 2.8 steals per game last year. They are returning 94.3 percent of their scoring from last year, 91 percent of their rebounding and 88.5 percent of their assists from last season and all of these percentages lead the entire conference.

 

#4 – Youngstown State

Head Coach- John Barnes

4th place in the Horizon League last year with a 9-7 conference record and a 21-11 overall record

Youngstown State is in a similar position as Cleveland State, The Penguins lose their top two scorers from a season ago. They do have some good young talent in sophomores Nikki Arbanas (8.4 points per game) and Indiya Benjamin (9 ppg) and junior Kelsea Newman (7 ppg). This team was picked to finish fourth the conference this year even though they are fairly inexperienced.

 

#5 – Oakland

Head Coach- Jeff Tungate

7th place in the Horizon League last year with a 6-10 conference record and a 12-18 record overall

The Golden Grizzlies were picked to finish fifth this upcoming season in the preseason poll, and they are led by two seniors Olivia Nash and Elena Popkey. They were picked on the preseason second team. Nash averaged 13 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season while Popkey provided 12.2 points and 1.8 steals per game. The juniors on this team Nola Anderson (11.6ppg) and Sinclair Russell (7.3ppg) will look to take a step forward this season.

 

#6 – Cleveland State

Head Coach- Bernard Scott

3rd place in the Horizon League last year with a 10-6 conference record and a 19-13 overall record

Cleveland State is losing their top three scorers from last year’s team. They were picked to finish sixth in the preseason poll but the team should still be very competitive in the Horizon League this upcoming year. The team is getting several key players back from season ending injuries last year. Guard Khayla Livingston was injured before the season last year and forward Ashanti Abshaw was injured in the sixth game of the year. The leading scorer from last year’s team, Alexis Eckles, averaged 9.3 points per game and should be another key player for the Vikings.

 

#7 – Detroit

Head Coach- Bernard Scott

5th place in the Horizon League last year with a 7-9 conference record and a 12-18 record overall

The Detroit Titans had a rocky season at points last year but they have a bright outlook on this upcoming season partly because of star player and preseason first-team player Rosanna Reynolds. She averaged 18.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game to lead the Titans. Detroit will also rely heavily on Darianne Seward (11.8 ppg) and Haleigh Ristovski (9.4 ppg) as they look to improve on their losing conference and overall record from a season ago.

 

#9 – Milwaukee

Head Coach- Kyle Rechlicz

8th place in the Horizon League last year with a 5-11 conference record and a 10-20 record overall

The Panthers were picked to finish ninth this season in the preseason poll. They lost their leading scorer from a season ago, Ashley Green, who averaged 19.3 points per game. But the team is returning Jenny Lender who averaged 10.7 points as a freshman last year and Jessica Armstrong who averaged 9.7 points as a junior last year.

 

#10 – Valparaiso

Head Coach-Tracey Dorow

9th place in the Horizon League last year with a 2-14 conference record and a 6-24 record overall
The Crusaders women’s basketball team was picked to finish last in the preseason poll this year. They weren’t very competitive in conference only winning two games but the future looks a little bit brighter than last season. They are returning the reigning freshman of the year and sixth player of the year in Dani Franklin. She was also named to the preseason all-second team, she led all freshmen in the Horizon League last year with 12.7 points per game  and 46.3 percent shooting from the field. She will look to have an even bigger role on this year’s team. Jasmyn Walker (10.1 ppg) and Abby Dean (8.0 ppg) will also be leaned on by this year’s team if they want to be competitive in the Horizon League this year.

 

Preseason Poll

  1. Green Bay (25) – 302
  2. Wright State (4) – 250
  3. UIC (1) – 210
  4. Youngstown State – 181
  5. Oakland – 162
  6. Cleveland State (1) – 161
  7. Detroit – 157
  8. Northern Kentucky – 134
  9. Milwaukee – 71
  10. Valparaiso – 70

 

Preseason Player of the Year: Ruvanna Campbell, UIC

 

All-Horizon League Preseason First Team

Ruvanna Campbell, UIC, Senior (Preseason Player of the Year)

Kim Demmings, Wright State, Senior

Mehryn Kraker, Green Bay, Junior

Rosanna Reynolds, Detroit, Junior

Tesha Buck, Green Bay, Junior

 

All-League Second Team

Dani Franklin, Valparaiso, Sophomore

Olivia Nash, Oakland, Senior

Terri Bender, UIC, Senior

Ashley Luke, Green Bay, Senior

Elena Popkey, Oakland, Senior

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2015-16 Horizon League women’s basketball preview