Trojan women picked 3rd in CC preseason hoops poll
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 18, 2013 1:48 PM
HIGH POINT -- Conference Carolinas coaches selected Mount Olive College to finish a "respectable" third in the 2013-14 preseason women's basketball coaches poll.
But major challenges await the Trojans, the reigning tournament champions who received one first-place vote and collected 67 total points on the ballots. Someone must fill the void left by two-year starter Tamara Nesmith, a two-time all-Conference Carolinas performer who led the team in scoring and rebounding last season.
"Although we are coming off of a great finish in winning the conference championship last season and going to the NCAA tournament, we know we have a great deal of challenges ahead," MOC head coach Wendy Lee said.
Mount Olive, along with eight other teams, will chase preseason favorite and archrival Barton, which drew five first-place nods. The Bulldogs made their third straight NCAA postseason appearance last winter and return the league's reigning player-of-the-year -- Nyeshea Willie.
Willie ranked among the league's top 10 in numerous offensive categories. However, the Virginia Beach native is just one of two starters returning off of last year's team. She is joined by Ashley Thornton.
League coaches tabbed Limestone to end up second. The Saints logged a program-best 27 wins last season and ended the year ranked No. 10 in the USA Today Division II coaches poll. Three 1,000-point scorers and the program's career blocked shots leader graduated, but juniors Alicia Brookins and Morgan Brown return.
Eight points separated Barton, Limestone and MOC in the poll.
"As always in this league, it will be a battle every night out with many games being decided by single digits," said Lee, who has guided the Trojans to their lone two postseason apperances in program history.
"It's anybody's year and everybody has a chance."
Third-year member King (Tenn.) University was picked fourth behind the Trojans, while Belmont Abbey was selected fifth. North Greenville (S.C.) University, Pfeiffer U, Lees-McRae, Erskine (S.C.) and Converse (S.C.) College rounded out the poll.
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