Clayton State ranked No. 1 in USA Today/ESPN Division II Women’s Basketball Preseason Top 25 Coaches’ Poll
MORROW, Ga. – November 2, 2011 – For the second time this fall, the Clayton State Laker women's basketball team is ranked preseason No. 1 in the nation in Division II.
The preseason USA Today/ESPN WBCA Division II Top 25 Coaches' poll was released on Tuesday, and the defending NCAA Division II National Champion Lakers are ranked No. 1. Clayton State earned 732 points and 27 of 28 possible first-place votes for the ranking. This is the second preseason poll that has ranked the Lakers No. 1 in the nation in Division II. Last month, Clayton State was ranked No. 1 in the Division II Bulletin Preseason Top 25.
"Being recognized by opposing coaches as the team to beat this year is very flattering, and we feel it an honor and a privilege to go out now and try to live up to our lofty expectations," said Clayton State head coach Dennis Cox, who is 184-45 entering his eighth season at the Laker helm. "We are also humbled by it, because we know how much work it takes to finish on top, and we know that there are a lot of great teams in our league and around the country that are working hard to be the best as well.
"We are excited for the challenge."
The Lakers are followed by Bentley, Michigan Tech, Arkansas Tech and Delta State in the Top Five. Clayton State defeated Bentley 84-61 last season in the NCAA Division II national quarterfinals, and then Michigan Tech 69-50 in the national championship game. Rounding out the Top 10 is Fort Lewis, Metro State, Shaw, Wayne State and Peach Belt Conference rival Lander.
The Lakers and Lander are two of three teams nationally-ranked from the Peach Belt Conference. USC Aiken is also ranked 17th.
Cox returns three starters and eight players off last season's 35-1 squad. The most notable are senior wings Tanisha Woodard and Brittany Hall, plus the point guard tandem of Genesis Kelly, who missed most of last season with an injury, and junior Drameka Griggs.
The 5-foot-10 Woodard is a returning All-Peach Belt Conference and Division II All-Southeast Region selection who was also the Peach Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year. She needs only two points to become the eighth player in Clayton State women's basketball history to reach 1,000 career points. The 5-9 Hall needs 182 points to reach 1,000 for her career, and she was the Peach Belt's leading 3-point shooter last season at 43 percent.
Clayton State plays a preseason exhibition game at Vanderbilt on Saturday. The Lakers officially open the 2011-12 season in the Spartan Challenge Tournament at Tampa on Nov. 11-12.