CLEVELAND, OHIO – The Mid-American Conference announced the 2012-13 Women’s Basketball Preseason poll today as voted on by the league’s head coaches and select members of the media. Toledo was selected to win the West Division along with the MAC tournament title, while the Miami RedHawks were picked to finish first in the East Division. The Rockets garnered 16 votes to win the Tournament Title, while Central Michigan (12 votes) and Bowling Green (2 votes) also received consideration.
Toledo returns 11 letterwinners in 2012-13, including four starters, from last year's squad that finished with a 24-10 overall record. The Rockets made their third consecutive appearance and eighth overall in the WNIT in 2012. Leading the way for two-time MAC Coach of the Year Cullop this season will be three-time All-MAC honoree senior Naama Shafir (9.3 ppg, 3.5 apg, 2.3 spg), 2011-12 second-team All-MAC selection senior Yolanda Richardson (10.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.1 bpg) and 2011-12 MAC Defensive Player of the Year and second-team All-MAC recipient junior Andola Dortch (13.6 ppg, 4.8 apg, 4.0 rpg). In total, the Rockets welcome back 69.8 percent of their scoring, 75.5 percent of their rebounding, 71.1 percent of their assists, 87.6 percent of their blocked shots and 69.8 percent of their steals in 2012-13.
The Rockets were followed in the West Division preseason predictions by Central Michigan, while Eastern Michigan was picked to finish third. Northern Illinois was tabbed to finish fourth, while Western Michigan and Ball State rounded out this year's selections.
Miami returns three starters and eight letterwinners from a squad that was 21-10 a season ago and made a WNIT appearance for the second time in school history. Among those returning is 2012-13 Preseason All-MAC Selection Courtney Osborn. The Fishers, Ind. native was selected as a Region 4 nominee after she finished the 2011-12 season averaging the third-most points in the Mid-American Conference with 17.5 per game and also led the league in assists (5.5) and steals (2.3). Additionally, she broke the MAC record for most points scored in a game, dropping 48 against Akron Jan.4, while also leading the RedHawks to a 21-10 overall record.
Bowling Green followed Miami in the preseason rankings in second, while Akron was selected to finish third. Ohio was picked to place fourth, while Kent State and Buffalo rounded out the West Division selections.
The West Division preseason All-MAC representatives are Toledo's Shafir, Richardson & Dortch, Central Michigan's Crystal Bradford and Eastern Michigan's Natachia Watkins.
The East Division squad is comprised of Miami's Osborn, her teammate Kristen Olowinski, Bowling Green's Alexis Rogers and Chrissy Steffen and Akron's Rachel Tecca.
The 2012-13 women’s basketball season beings with games on Friday, November 9th, while the Mid-American Conference season kicks off Thursday, January 10th as all teams will start to fight for position in the FirstEnergy Men's Basketball Tournament that will take place on March 13-16 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Keep up-to-date with all things MAC Women’s Basketball at MAC-Sports.com
MAC East Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Miami (16 First Place Votes)
2. Bowling Green (13)
3. Akron (1)
5. Kent State
East Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Rachel Tecca, Akron
Alexis Rogers, Bowling Green
Courtney Osborn, Miami
Chrissy Steffen, Bowling Green
Kristen Olowinski, Miami
MAC West Division Predicted Order of Finish
1. Toledo (24 First Place Votes)
2. Central Michigan (6)
3. Eastern Michiagn
4. Northern Illinois
5. Western Michigan
6. Ball State
West Division Preseason All-MAC Team
Crystal Bradford, Central Michigan
Natachia Watkins, Eastern Michigan
Naama Shafir, Toledo
Andola Dortch, Toledo
Yolanda Richardson, Toledo
MAC Women's Basketball Tournament Champion: Toledo (16), Central Michigan (12), Bowling Green (2)