INDIANAPOLIS – Drury University has been unanimously selected to win the upcoming 2019-20 Great Lakes Valley Conference season, it was announced by the league office Wednesday. The annual GLVC Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll was voted on by the league coaches and ranks all 16 teams in predicted order of finish.
The GLVC regular season will be a 16-team round robin format for eight pairs of travel partners with each team playing a second game against its travel partner and four other opponents for a total of 20 games. The top-eight teams with the most points derived from the GLVC Point Rating System at the end of the regular season will earn a berth to the GLVC Basketball Championship Tournament on March 5-8 at the Vadalabene Center in Edwardsville, Illinois, on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Defending champion Drury (35-1, 18-0 GLVC in 2018-19) was picked first in the preseason, earning 225 points and all 15 possible first-place votes, as Conference policy prohibits coaches from casting a vote for their own team. The Panthers, with a perfect league record, were both regular season and GLVC Tournament Champions last year for the third consecutive season, earning the Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament where they won the Midwest Regional title in their fourth-straight appearance in that game and advanced all the way to the national semifinals.
Reigning GLVC Coach of the Year, Molly Miller, led her squad to an historic season with a No. 1 WBCA national ranking for the last seven weeks of the season. The sixth-year head coach returns her entire All-GLVC starting lineup, including GLVC Defensive Player of the Year, Daejah Bernard, and GLVC Freshman of the Year, Paige Robinson, along with the WBCA Division II Player of the Year and GLVC Championship Tournament Most Outstanding Player, Hailey Diestelkamp. All three were first-team picks while Robinson was also voted to the All-Freshman Team. The other two starters include second-team honoree Payton Richards and third-team member Lauren Holmes.
Lewis University, which went 27-5 overall and 16-2 in GLVC action last season, was picked second in the poll with 190 points. The Flyers finished second in the loop and were the No. 2 seed for the 2018-19 GLVC postseason event, falling in the semifinals but garnering a NCAA Regional at-large berth for the 14th time in program history and seventh year in a row. Third-year head coach Samantha Quigley Smith will take a hit to her lineup this season with the loss of the past year’s D2CCA Player of the Year and three-time GLVC Player of the Year in Jessica Kelliher – who also finished her career as the Lewis and Conference all-time leading scorer with 2,764 points – but will return two starters in senior forward Rachel Hinders and junior guard Kaitlyn Williams.
Bellarmine University (17-12, 9-9) advanced to the GLVC Championship Tournament finals last year as the No. 6 seed and was rewarded in the preseason as the third pick with 181 points, narrowly edging No. 4 University of Southern Indiana that had 178 points. The Knights welcome back two All-GLVC performers in seniors Mikayla Berry and Mallory Schwartz under the guidance of eighth-year head coach Chancellor Dugan.
Southern Indiana was just three points shy of Bellarmine and picked fourth in the initial poll, while newcomer Lindenwood University earned the fifth spot with 175 points. Maryville University picked up the other first-place vote and tied for No. 6 with Truman State University with 159 points. McKendree University (119 points), University of Missouri-St. Louis (102), and William Jewell College (89) round out the top-10 group.
University of Indianapolis (87) came in at No. 11, new league member Southwest Baptist (74) earned the 12th spot, and Rockhurst University (71) was three points back at No. 13. Missouri S&T (50), University of Illinois Springfield (41), and Quincy University (20) respectively rounded out the final three positions at 14, 15, and 16
Half the GLVC women’s basketball teams officially open the season Friday, Nov. 8, with eight in action, including McKendree, Missouri-St. Louis, Maryville, Illinois Springfield, Rockhurst, Bellarmine, Indianapolis, and Missouri S&T.
The complete 2019-20 GLVC Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll follows:
|2019-20 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL|
|Place||Team||Points (First-place votes)|