USC Aiken and Clayton State were ranked in the preseason
women’s basketball top 25 in the Division II Bulletin. USC
Aiken enters the poll at #19 while Clayton State is 21st. Both
teams were among the five PBC co-Champions last season and both had
For USC Aiken, this is the program's second consecutive preseason national ranking
"The ranking is great for our players, program, and University," said USCA head coach Mike Brandt, entering his seventh season. "It shows that other people in the basketball world respect us for the level we are at and it is nice to be the top Peach Belt Conference representative. Our goal, of course, is to use the ranking as motivation and to continue to climb up the poll. On the other side, it also puts a target on you as your opponents want to take advantage of the opportunity to beat a ranked team. They will bring their best at us each night."
USC Aiken (20-8, 13-7 PBC) won ten of their final twelve regular season games last season before dropping a heartbreaking 68-67 PBC Tournament loss to a streaking Lander team. The Bearcats went on to win the conference tourney. The Lady Pacers did finish the year with the highest winning percentage of all PBC teams.
For the 2008-09 campaign, Brandt returns three starters - with arguably one of the best backcourts in the country and total of 10 players returning from last year. Led by the two senior guards, All-Region and All-Conference honored Meredith Legg and Megan Starnes who is an outstanding defender and ranked 11th in the conference in assist and finished 9th in minutes played.
USC Aiken is scheduled to open the season in the Disney Wide World of Sports Division II Classic on Friday, November 31 in Orlando, FL.
Clayton State and head coach Dennis Cox is coming off a 2007-08 season in which the Lakers went 20-11 overall with a third Peach Belt Conference regular season championship in the last four seasons. In addition, the Lakers earned their fourth straight NCAA Division II National Tournament berth, advancing to the Sweet 16.
"Obviously, we have not achieved anything this season," said Cox, who is 99-30 in four seasons at Clayton State. "However, it is a great honor to be mentioned in the preseason with other elite programs in the country. It is also noteworthy that there are three other ranked teams that appear on our schedule this year.
"It certainly gives us motivation, as we try to prove ourselves worthy of this recognition."
The Lakers return three starters and seven letterwinners from last season. Clayton State opens the 2008-09 season on Nov. 15 against Barry in the Marriot Tip-Off Classic at Nova Southeastern.
Defending national champion Northern Kentucky has been tagged No. 1 in the poll followed by California (PA), West Texas A & M, Franklin Pierce, and Alaska- Anchorage. The other major national poll, the ESPN/USA Today/WBCA Top 25 poll, has not yet released its preseason rankings.
1.) Northern Kentucky 28-8
2.) California (Pa.) 27-7
3.) West Texas A&M 26-5
4.) Franklin Pierce 27-5
5.) Alaska-Anchorage 30-5
6.) Washburn 26-7
7.) Michigan Tech 23-8
8.) Tusculum 26-5
9.) Stonehill 27-5
10.) Drury 27-3
11.) Indiana (Pa.) 27-5
12.) Delta State 33-1
13.) Wingate 26-8
14.) Central Oklahoma 24-8
15.) Hillsdale 23-5
16.) Holy Family 32-1
17.) Augustana 22-9
18.) Emporia State 23-8
19.) USC Aiken 20-8
20.) Arkansas Tech 26-6
21.) Clayton State 20-11
22.) Nebraska-Kearney 27-7
23.) Nova Southeastern 24-7
24.) West Georgia 25-5
25.) Shepherd 24-7