Northern Athletics Conference, Sports Information Department
WAUKESHA, Wis -- Aurora University was predicted to win the 2009-10 Northern Athletics Conference women's basketball South Division while Concordia University Wisconsin was predicted to win the North Division title, according to the preseason coaches' poll.
Aurora received eight of the 13 first place votes for 78 total poll points in the seven-team South Division. The Spartans are coming off a runner-up finish in the division last year with a 17-10 overall record, including 13-5 in conference play. Though the Spartans graduated their top two scorers from last season, they return their most accurate scorer, 6-0 junior center Michelle Perry, who was second in the conference at .562 last season. Perry averaged 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds last season.
Wisconsin Lutheran College was chosen second in the South with three first place votes and 73 poll points. The Warriors (20-8, 15-3 NAC) are coming off a season with 20 wins, a NAC South Division title and NAC tournament runner-up to their credit. The Warriors have some big shoes to fill with the loss of first team All-NAC guards Kirsten Dillon and Britany Lindert to graduation. The duo accounted for nearly half of the team's scoring last year.
MSOE (13-13, 10-8) will not be able to sneak up on teams this year as they return the league's Freshman of the Year, sophomore forward Carol Cayo, and reigning NAC Coach of the Year Jessica Ott from 2008-09. The Raiders were picked third in the South Division with 70 poll points and two first place votes. The squad had one of the biggest turnarounds in the nation, going from a single victory in 2007-08 to 13 last season.
Benedictine University was tabbed fourth in the South with 50 poll points. The Eagles (12-14, 8-10) lost second team All-NAC guard Laketa Simpson to graduation, but return a core of players that led the league in 3-point shooting with a .340 average and 6.4 made per game.
Alverno College (11-14, 6-12) was picked fifth with36 poll points, a single point ahead of Dominican University (12-13, 6-12) which was picked sixth. The Inferno and Stars finished in a tie for fifth place in the NAC standings last season.
Concordia University Chicago (8-17, 4-14) was picked last in the South with 22 poll points.
Concordia Wisconsin received 11 of 13 first place points and 75 poll points in the six-team North Division. The Falcons (23-6, 16-1) won the North last season, and also the NAC tournament, earning a spot in the NCAA III Championship tournament. The Falcons became the first NAC women's basketball team to win a NCAA tournament game as they defeated Concordia College-Moorhead in the first round, and then fell to UW-Stevens Point in the second round.
Lakeland College received the remaining two first place votes for 66 poll points, picked second behind CUW. The Muskies (17-9, 11-6) finished third in the North Division last season and return their leading scorer and rebounder and second team All-NAC honoree KC Blahnik. The senior guard/forward averaged 11.7 points and 7.8 rebounds a game last season, and also led the team in assists (52) and steals (42).
The Edgewood College Eagles were picked third with 52 points, 14 behind Lakeland. The Eagles (19-7, 15-2) lost All-American and two-time NAC Player of the Year Megan Scheele to graduation, and have a new head coach at the helm as first year coach Casey Thousand takes over.
Rockford College (8-18, 6-11) was chosen fourth in the North with 39 poll points. The Regents honorable mention selection from last season, Britney Curry, led the team in scoring as a freshman with 14.1 points a game.
Marian University (6-19, 3-14) was picked fifth with 25 poll points and Maranatha Baptist Bible College (11-18, 1-16) was last with 16.
The NAC regular season concludes with the annual North/South Challenge which pits the divisions' teams against each other based on the final NAC standings. The South Division won last season's challenge 4-2. This season's challenge takes place on Saturday, Feb. 20.
The 2010 NAC Women's Basketball Tournament is scheduled for Feb. 24, 26 and 27. The top four teams from each division make up the eight-team tournament, with the tournament champion receiving the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA III Championship tournament.