Oklahoma Baptist enters the 2008-09 women’s basketball season as the preseason favorite in the Sooner Athletic Conference for the first time.
OBU returns only one starter from last year’s SAC runner-up, but garnered six of 12 first-place votes to edge Oklahoma City in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll by two points.
Oklahoma City, the defending SAC champions, received five first-place votes and had 112 points to OBU’s 114. Lubbock Christian received the remaining first-place vote and finished third at 103.
Southern Nazarene is ranked fourth at 87, followed by Oklahoma Christian at 78, USAO at 75, Rogers State at 60, Wayland Baptist at 56, John Brown at 42, Northwestern Oklahoma State at 33, Mid-America Christian at 18 and St. Gregory’s with 14.
The Lady Bison, 29-5 last season, return starter Jennifer Jupin, who averaged 10.8 points per game. OBU also inserts last year’s super-sub Taujhnae Travis into a starting role this year. Travis averaged 18.9 points per game and won the SAC Tournament Hustle Award.
OBU also is loaded with new talent, including 6-3 post Afeisha Noel, 6-0 forward Natasha Hogg and 5-9 point guard Ashley Harrell.
"We're excited that everybody respects us right now, but we understand it's not important at this time of the year," said OBU coach John McCullough. "We want it at the end of the season and we understand that it is going to take a lot of hard work to do that."
Oklahoma City brings back honorable mention All-America Chelsea Ledbetter, along with Brrezy Martin and Laura Duncan and has added Oklahoma State transfer Chontaye Walter and junior college standouts Erika Ferrell and Holly Hardin.
The Stars went 21-1 in the SAC and 28-5 overall a year ago.
The Lady Chaps, coming off a 25-10 record in 2008, bring back third-team All-America Sierra Lovorn, and conference three-point shooting record holder Jordan Hampton. Added to the mix this season are
5-11 forward Brittany Blackmon and standout freshmen guards April Ehlers and Brittany Hampton.
Kinzie Glover, a third-team All-American, is back for SNU, along with Lana Keith. The Crimson Storm also picked up 6-1 freshman Abbey Marra,
5-11 freshman Sharmeda Johnson and guard Logan Martin to bolster the squad that was 25-7 last year.
Oklahoma Christian has third-team All-American guard Kailan DeCamp back this season along with seniors Lindsey Gipson and Haley Myers. The Lady Eagles added The Master’s College transfer Lisa Chenoweth and freshmen Tarynn Branscum and Katy Clift.
USAO will be led by All-Conference picks Yesi Castillo and Charite Lewis, along with senior Sasha Ferguson. The Drovers also picked up Missouri Southern transfer Ivaney Marquez, 6-3 juco transfer Debora Dourado and Senegal import Aita Gueye.
Azzie Knox, Katie Rice and Hunter Peterson bring experience back to Rogers State. The Hillcats also signed six-footer Silvia Rios, NEO’s Autumn Thompson and guard Sophia Piggie.
Edite Kresa is back from injury for the Flying Queens of Wayland Baptist and is joined by returners Shelby Conrad and Jessi Howard.
Newcomers include juco transfers Rose Ouma, Shamon Doss and Jessica Walker.
John Brown has All-Conference guard Ashley Taylor back, along with Micaela Cully and Lenece Glossett. New Lady Golden Eagles are led by 6-2 freshman Chelsea Garrison, 6-0 frosh Whitney Binder and 5-9 guard Michelle Garcia.
All-SAC guard D’Shanna Butler is back for Northwestern Oklahoma State, who also brings back front-court talent in Emily Gilbert and Claudia Vasquez. Cameron transfer Keindra Scott at 6-2 adds some reach to the Lady Rangers, who also add guards Ashley Johnson and Autumn Klugh.
Mid-America Christian picked up 6-0 forward Nathalia Araujo, 5-11 forward Karina Trindade and Central Oklahoma transfer Tiphani Eaves.
April Hale is the top returning player.
The Lady Cavaliers of St. Gregory’s have Nkechi Okorie and Melody Mattox back and have added freshman guard Jalisa Howard.
2008-09 SAC Women's Basketball Preseason Poll