Lady Chants picked to finish eighth in Big South

The Coastal Carolina women’s basketball has been selected eighth in the Big South Conference Preseason Poll voted on by the conference’s head coaches and media members as announced by the Big South Conference during the annual media day in Charlotte, N.C.

Liberty, the conference’s defending regular season champion, was a near unanimous decision at the top of the poll garnering 19 first place votes for a total of 199. High Point received one first place vote and 160 points followed closely by Radford’s 157 points. Gardner-Webb, the defending conference tournament champion, tallied 143 points followed by Winthrop’s 94 to round out the top five. Conference newcomer Campbell received 77 votes, two ahead of Charleston Southern’s seventh-place 75 tallies, to finish sixth in the poll. Rounding out the final three positions in the poll are Coastal (68), Presbyterian (67) and UNC Asheville (60).

“We were picked at about where I thought we would be based on what each team has coming back from last season,” said head coach Alan LeForce. “If we work hard this season, we have a talented team that could easily surpass our preseason rank.”

Liberty’s Avery Warley, last season defensive player of the year, was tabbed as the Preseason Player of the Year. Joining Warley on the Preseason All-Big South team are Liberty’s Devon Brown, High Point’s Shamia Brown, Radford’s Da’Naria Erwin-Spencer and Winthrop’s Dequesha McClanahan.

LeForce returns three starters this year including senior guard Olivia Irick who rattled off 16 double-digit scoring performances in 2010-11 on her way to averaging 9.3 points per game. Kira Carter and Shanika Maddox also return to the lineup in 2011-12. Carter averaged 6.2 points and dished out 37 assists running the point in her first year in the Chanticleer teal and black after transferring from Wabash Valley College. Maddox started 12 games, including 11 of the first 13, before suffering an injury that kept her sidelined for several weeks. Despite the injury, Maddox was able to average 3.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

The six newcomers look to make an immediate impact for the Chanticleers, as several starting positions are up for grabs. The freshman group includes Shatia Cole, DJ Hunter and Keyaurna Wilson from Myrtle Beach High School – the winners of the past two South Carolina state championships. Savanah Pippin starts her collegiate career after finishing interscholastic competition as Virginia High School’s all-time leading shot blocker. Jena Hamrick, a sharpshooter from Indiana, along with AJ Jordan, a Tennessee Sports Writers Association All-State team member, round out the Chanticleer class. Together the six comprise one of the most heralded single recruiting classes in LeForce’s tenure.

“Between the mix of upper classmen and the last two recruiting classes, this is one of the most athletic and skilled teams I have coached at Coastal,” said LeForce. “We have more quickness from top to bottom than I have ever had as a women’s coach. This team also has more depth, with many reserves having played significant minutes in their careers, than we have had in a number of years.”

Coastal will open the season as host to Southern Virginia on Nov. 11 to kick off the program’s final home season in Kimbel Arena before moving to the new Convocation Center next year.

Big South Preseason Poll
1. Liberty (19) – 199
2. High Point (1) – 160
3. Radford – 157
4. Gardner-Webb – 143
5. Winthrop – 94
6. Campbell – 77
7. Charleston Southern – 75
8. COASTAL CAROLINA – 68
9. Presbyterian College – 67
10. UNC Asheville – 60

Preseason All-Big South First Team
Avery Warley, Liberty
Devon Brown, Liberty
Shamia Brown, High Point
Da’Naria Erwin-Spencer, Radford
Dequesha McClanahan, Winthrop

Preseason Big South Player of the Year
Avery Warley, Liberty

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