KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Despite the departure of Hannah Dean, who led Carroll College with 15.0 points per game last season, expectations remain high for coach Rachelle Sayers and the Fighting Saints. On Wednesday, those expectations placed Carroll seventh in the NAIA Division I women's basketball coaches' top 25 preseason poll.
Carroll went 26-8 last season, losing in the second round of the NAIA national tournament. They start the 2019-20 season as the Frontier Conference favorite, according to the coaches, and at No. 7 in the national rankings to lead three Frontier Conference teams in the top 25. The University of Providence (17th) and Rocky Mountain College (18th) are also ranked, while Lewis-Clark State and defending national champion Montana Western are among the other teams to receive votes.
Providence wasn't ranked to finish the 2018-19 season, but coach Bill Himmelberg and the Argos come in at No. 17 in the preseason rankings. Emilee Maldonado was voted the league's preseason player of the year.
Wes Keller guided Rocky to a 20-13 mark last season, including a first-round loss at the national tournament, and the Battlin' Bears were previously ranked 20th. They'll start this season at No. 18.
Lewis-Clark fell in the quarterfinals of last year's NAIA national tournament. Livingston native Brian Orr has led the Warriors for 18 seasons, compiling an overall win-loss record of 445-153. He's the all-time winningest coach in Lewis-Clark program history and currently ranks sixth among active NAIA coaches in all-time victories.
Western, under the guidance of coach Lindsay Woolley, won the 2019 national championship, but will enter the 2019-20 season unranked. The Bulldogs graduated their top four scores from last year: national player of the year Brianna King (22.7 points per game), Britt Cooper (9.7), Cierra Lamey (9.4) and Tori Anderson (7.3)
Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) is the top-ranked team, just edging out Campbellsville (Ky.). Oklahoma City, The Master's (Calif.) and Wayland Baptist (Texas) make up the rest of the top five. The Master's, Freed-Hardeman and Oklahoma City all lost to Western in last year's national tournament.
2019-20 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll
|RANK||LAST TIME||SCHOOL||2019 RECORD||POINTS|
|4||5||The Master's (Calif.)||28-7||199|
|5||7||Wayland Baptist (Texas)||29-6||187|
|6||12||Our Lady of the Lake (Texas)||28-7||178|
|11||14||Shawnee State (Ohio)||25-10||148|
|12||NR||Central Methodist (Mo.)||20-12||145|
|14||10||MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||25-6||129|
|15||17||Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)||23-11||101|
|17||RV||Providence (Mont.) (Mont.)||18-14||99|
|18||20||Rocky Mountain (Mont.)||20-13||95|
|21||NR||Thomas More (Ky.)||32-0||76|
|23||RV||LSU Alexandria (La.)||22-8||65|
|25||9||William Penn (Iowa)||30-3||54|
Receiving Votes: Lewis-Clark (Idaho) 49, Xavier (La.) 43, Montana Western 31, Mid-America Christian (Okla.) 26, Georgetown (Ky.) 23, Science & Arts of Oklahoma 17, Pikeville (Ky.) 10, William Jessup (Calif.) 3