AUGUSTA, GA – The defending NCAA Division II National Champions will begin the 2011-12 season as the preseason favorite to win the PBC Championship as Clayton State sits atop the coaches poll released by the conference office on Friday. The Lakers earned 11 of 12 possible first-place votes in the poll and sit 13 points ahead of Lander who was second with 130. USC Aiken is third with Columbus State fourth, Francis Marion fifth and UNC Pembroke sixth. Georgia College, North Georgia, Georgia Southwestern, Armstrong Atlantic State, Montevallo, Augusta State and Flagler round out the voting.
Clayton State made history last season, becoming the first PBC women’s basketball team to win the National Championship. The Lakers finished 35-1 overall, setting a league record for most wins in a season, and were ranked #1 in the season in four of the final five weeks. Already ranked #1 by the Division II Bulletin for the 2011-12 season, the Lakers return three starters and eight letterwinners from last season’s team. Among those returning is senior Tanisha Woodard who was named first-team All-Conference and the PBC Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league in steals. Woodard and junior Dramka Griggs were both named to the PBC preseason All-Conference team on Thursday. Also returning are guards Brittany Hall and Genesis Kelly.
Lander was ranked #1 in the nation for four straight weeks last season and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Finishing the season ranked #6 in the nation, the Bearcats set a school record for wins and winning percentage with their 29-4 overall record. Lander has some holes to fill with the graduation of National Player of the Year Shannon McKever and forward Tasheba Butler. But the Bearcats do have eight seniors returning for this season including guard Jasmine Judge, who was named preseason All-Conference yesterday. Also back is senior point guard Britni Johnson, guards Ciara Lyons and Mukia Myrick and center Kaylyn Small.
USC Aiken was the only team in the nation to hand Clayton State a loss in 2010-11, finishing the season 27-6 overall, setting a school record for wins. The Lady Pacers cracked the top 10 of the national rankings after being ranked in the top 25 for 12 straight weeks, reached the finals of the PBC Tournament and won their first NCAA Tournament game. Two starters and eight letterwinners return from that team including All-Conference forward Hannah DeGraffinreed and All-Conference guard Kayla Harris. DeGraffinreed, who was named to the preseason All-Conference team yesterday, averaged 11.9 points per game and led the team in rebounding. Harris was named the PBC Freshman of the Year last season and led the team in scoring.
The 2011-12 season will begin on Nov. 11 with conference play beginning on Nov. 30 and continuing on through the PBC Tournament. The tournament returns to Columbus, Ga., and the Frank G. Lumpkin, Jr. Arena March 1-4. Columbus State also hosted the PBC Tournament in 2002 and 2003.
Montevallo’s Cindy Hilbrich is the only new head coach in the Peach Belt Conference this season. Although Hilbrich is not new to the conference having been an assistant at USC Aiken for the past four years.
The 2011-12 preseason poll is listed below. Teams were given 12 points for a first-place vote, 11 for a second and so on. Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.
A team-by-team preview of the 2011-12 season can be seen here.
|1. Clayton State||11||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||143|
|3. USC Aiken||0||5||6||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||124|
|4. Columbus State||0||0||5||6||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||112|
|5. Francis Marion||0||0||0||2||4||3||2||0||0||1||0||0||86|
|6. UNC Pembroke||0||0||0||0||3||2||5||1||0||1||0||0||76|
|7. Georgia College||0||0||0||2||1||3||0||4||2||0||0||0||75|
|8. North Georgia||0||0||0||1||3||2||1||3||1||0||0||1||73|
|9. Georgia Southwestern||0||0||0||0||1||1||2||3||2||1||2||0||57|
|10. Armstrong Atlantic State||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||1||4||3||2||0||48|
|12. Augusta State||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||0||1||4||4||1||37|