FLORENCE, Ky. — Asbury (Ky.) University and the University of Rio Grande are predicted as the favorites in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Capital and Colonial Divisions, respectively, according to the 2015-16 KIAC Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
The preseason poll featured voting from the 13 KIAC women’s basketball head coaches. The teams were ranked according to the predicted finish in the KIAC Colonial and Capital Divisions, as well as a prediction of the KIAC overall, regardless of division.
Asbury, which won the KIAC Tournament last year, is not only predicted as the top team in the KIAC Capital Division, but also as the top team in the KIAC overall. The Eagles, who were 26-7 overall and 10-4 KIAC last season, received 12 of 13 first-place votes to win the KIAC Capital. On the overall KIAC ballot, Asbury earned nine of 13 first-place votes.
Rio Grande, which was 25-8 overall, 13-1 KIAC last season, is predicted as the KIAC Colonial Division champion and second overall in the KIAC. The RedStorm received eight first-place votes to win the KIAC Colonial. Rio Grande was a KIAC Tournament semifinalist a year ago and, along with Asbury, reached the NAIA Division II national tournament.
Asbury received 90 of a possible 91 points in the KIAC Capital voting, while earning 162 points on the overall KIAC ballot out of a possible 169. The Eagles return all five starters, including three double-figure scorers – guard Brittany Warren (14.8 ppg), forward Catie Fletcher (13.0 ppg) and forward Savannah Taylor (11.7 ppg). Top rebounder Kali Whiteside (6.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg) is also back.
Rio Grande received 69 points in the voting to lead the KIAC Colonial Division. The RedStorm had 147 points on the overall KIAC ballot, 15 behind Asbury. Rio Grande graduated just one starter but has key injuries to two of the returners in forward Alexis Payne (14.5 ppg) and Brooke Marcum (8.6 ppg). Guard/forward Sarah Bonar (11.6 ppg) also returns.
Point Park (Pa.) University was picked second in the KIAC Colonial Division behind Rio Grande and third overall in the KIAC. The Pioneers (25-5, 11-3 KIAC) earned 63 points and two first-place votes within the division. Guard Alexa Xenakis (9.2 ppg) and forward Carly Forse (7.8 ppg) are returning starters.
IU East (19-14, 7-7 KIAC) was a KIAC Tournament finalist last year and is picked third in the KIAC Colonial with 57 points and fourth overall in the KIAC. The Red Wolves got three first-place votes within the division. IU East has four starters back including guards Tia King (17.1 ppg) and Kristen Miller (12.6 ppg).
WVU Tech (16-15) is picked fourth in the KIAC Colonial and is a new KIAC member this year. Fellow conference newcomer Ohio Christian University (12-12) is predicted fifth in the division, and Carlow (11-14, 2-12 KIAC) is picked sixth.
IU Southeast (19-12, 9-6 KIAC) is picked second in the KIAC Capital Division behind Asbury. The Grenadiers earned 78 points and one first-place vote within the division. IUS was chosen sixth in the KIAC overall and returns forwards Mary Dye (9.9 ppg) and Michaela Harris (4.8 ppg).
Brescia (Ky.) University (11-17, 5-10 KIAC) was picked third in the KIAC Capital with 55 points and seventh overall in the KIAC. The Bearcats return all-conference guard Julie Whitfill (20.3 ppg) and guard Darrian McNary (13.8 ppg).
Cincinnati Christian (15-16, 8-8 KIAC) was picked fourth in the KIAC Capital with 49 points and eighth overall in the conference. The Eagles have Aly Balser (7.0 ppg) and Brianna Ruffin (9.0 ppg) back as starters.
IU Kokomo (8-21, 3-12 KIAC) was picked fifth in the KIAC Capital, right in front of Alice Lloyd (Ky.) College (12-17, 5-11 KIAC) and Midway (Ky.) University (12-16, 8-8 KIAC).
The top four teams in each division will qualify for the KIAC Tournament at the end of the year.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director at the University of Rio Grande.