Lady Chants get no respect in Sun Belt preseason poll

ccuwhoops-14The 2016-17 Coastal Carolina women’s basketball team was picked to finish 11th in the Sun Belt Conference in a polling of the league’s head coaches, it was announced Tuesday. The Chanticleers are entering their first season of competition in the Sun Belt after 30 seasons as a member of the Big South Conference.

Troy was selected as preseason favorite, garnering 12 first-place votes and tallying 125 points. The Trojans finished second in the league last season with a 20-13 record, but claimed the Sun Belt Tournament title to earn its second-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Little Rock was picked to finish second with 121 total points and five first-place votes. UT Arlington placed third in the polling with 118 points and three first-place votes. South Alabama (109 points), UL Lafayette (101 points) and Texas State (81 points) finished fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. Arkansas State (80 points) took seventh place, followed by Appalachian State (64 points), who claimed the final first-place vote. Georgia State (52 points), Georgia Southern (39 points), Coastal Carolina (26 points) and UL Monroe (20 points) rounded out the poll.

The league also announced its Preseason All-Conference first, second and third teams on Tuesday. Coastal did not receive any individual preseason honors.

UTA’s Rebekah VanDijk, a junior center, was tabbed the league’s Preseason Player of the Year. A second team All-Conference selection in each of the previous two seasons, VanDijk averaged 12.2 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game to lead the Mavericks last year. During league play those averages went up to 14. And 9.7 per game, respectively.

The Chanticleers are entering their fourth season under head coach Jaida Williams, who led Coastal to a 12-18, 7-13 record in 2015-16. The Chants return a pair of starters from last season in Ced Gibson and Yasmin Miller. Gibson averaged team highs of 11.6 points and 3.7 assists per game last season, while Miller added 8.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

The Chants are also returning nine other student-athletes, including graduate student Rachael Gregory (11.3 ppg), senior Alexis Robinson (5.5 rpg) and junior Jas Adams (1.5 spg).

Returning redshirts Di’janai Williams and Courtney Clasen will see their first action in a Chanticleer uniform this season, as will freshman Naheria Hamilton. Junior transfer Kaydra Duckett (South Carolina) will have to sit the 2016-17 season due to NCAA DI transfer policies.

Chanticleer fans can get an early preview of the 2016-17 men’s and women’s basketball teams on Thursday, Oct. 20 when Coastal hosts Hoopla, a free celebration to tip off the new basketball season at the HTC Center. The event, set to begin at 10 p.m., will feature several contests involving students and members of the CCU basketball teams, with prizes available to win.

The Chanticleer women open their season on the road at Clemson on Nov. 11 before making their home debut on Nov. 15 against N.C. Central at the HTC Center.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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