MACON, Ga. (Oct. 13, 2010) - The Atlantic Sun Conference released its 2010 preseason women's basketball polls Wednesday afternoon, and the ETSU women's basketball team were picked second by both the coaches and media. Meanwhile, senior point guard Tara Davis (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) was one of five unanimous selections to the preseason All-Atlantic Sun Team.
The Lady Bucs are coming off their best season in program history after posting a 23-win campaign; while winning the A-Sun regular season crown for the second time in the last three seasons, and capturing their third straight tournament title.
ETSU returns nine letterwinners from last season's squad that nearly pulled off the upset at Xavier in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, including senior leaders Davis and fifth-year post player Latisha Belcher (Martinsville, Va.). However, despite returning nine players, ETSU lost its top three scorers in co-players of the year Siarre Evans (Griffin, Ga.) and TaRonda Wiles (Danville, Va.) to graduation and Tarita Gordon (Wichita, Kan.) to a preseason injury. To fill the void, the Lady Buccaneer coaching staff put in long hours on the recruiting circuit and reloaded the team with some youthful talent for the 2010-11 season.
In the polls, Florida Gulf Coast was picked first in both, totaling 234 points by the media and 104 by the coaches (seven first-place votes). The Lady Bucs and USC Upstate both landed a pair of first-place nods by the league coaches; however, ETSU edged out the Spartans by one vote - 101 to 100. Meanwhile, in the media poll, both the Lady Bucs and Spartans were tied for second with 221 votes. North Florida, last year's tournament runner-up, received 84 votes to place fourth by the coaches; while both Belmont and Campbell were tied for fifth with 71 votes apiece. Belmont was tabbed fourth (155 votes) by the media and UNF capped off the top five with 137 selections.
"I really don't put too much thought into preseason polls, but we can use this to motivate the players by letting them know they need to work harder in order to be the best," commented head coach Karen Kemp. "Personally, I believe we were picked higher than I thought we should be, because there are some teams that should be ranked above us."
Joining Davis with unanimous selections on the all-conference team were Belmont's Hayley Nelson, North Florida's Brittany Kirkland, Florida Gulf Coast's Shannon Murphy and USC Upstate's Chelsea McMillan. McMillan was also named Preseason Player of the Year.
"I am happy to see Tara receive preseason all-conference accolades, because she works hard each time she steps out on the floor," added Kemp. "T.D. has been the spark plug for our team over the last couple years, and we are going to rely on her leadership this season."
The Lady Bucs open the 2010-11 season with an exhibition game against Tusculum on Monday, Nov. 1. Tip is set for 7 p.m. inside the ETSU/MSHA Athletic Center.
For more information on Lady Buccaneer basketball and to purchase season tickets, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.