KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Lubbock Christian University boasts the top ranking in the 2012-13 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Tuesday. The Lady Chaparrals, who are coming off a 28-6 season and their first Fab Four appearance, received nine first-place votes and 280 total points. This is the ninth-straight top 10 ranking and the first ever No.1 for LCU.
“We strive to represent LCU and hold our student athletes to the highest possible standard off and on the court, so it is definitely an honor to receive this type of preseason attention for what the previous and returning players have accomplished,” said Lady Chap Head Coach Steve Gomez. “This is not recognition that we will sit around and relish, nor is it something that we will ignore or denigrate; instead we need to embrace it for what it is - the recognition of our potential. Right now our goal is to daily go about our business of playing up to that potential both individually and, even more importantly, as a team and also to enjoy the adventure that is before us.”
Shawnee State (Ohio) gathered 269 points en route to the No. 2 spot, while third-ranked Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), who returns NAIA All-Americans Natalie Shumpert and Maria Bagwell, gathered the remaining two first-place votes and 266 points. No. 4 Vanguard (Calif.) and fifth-ranked Westminster (Utah) round out the top five with 251 and 240 points, respectively.
There are seven newcomers based upon the 2011-12 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Coaches' Postseason Top 25 - No. 17 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), No. 19 LSU Shreveport (La.), No. 21 Columbia (Mo.), No. 22 Bethel (Tenn.), No. 23 William Woods (Mo.), No. 24 Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) and No. 25 Faulkner (Ala.). Both Our Lady of the Lake and Faulkner are making their first-ever appearance in the national rating (since 1999-2000).
Defending national champion Oklahoma City takes home the 10th position, which is the lowest rating for the Stars since they were No. 12 in the 2008-09 Final Coaches' Top 25 Poll (March 11, 2009).
The Mid-South Conference leads all conferences with five teams in the Top 25 (Shawnee State, No. 6 Georgetown (Ky.), No. 13 Campbellsville (Ky.), Lindsey Wilson and No. 18 Cumberlands (Ky.)), while the Sooner Athletic Conference, Golden State Athletic Conference and Red River Athletic Conference are second with three teams each. Eleven conference/unaffiliated groups are represented in the preseason poll.
A panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and unaffiliated group voted on the poll. The first regular-season Division I Women's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Poll will be announced on Dec. 4.
The regular season tips off Nov. 1 for the Lady Chaps, as they host Texas-Permian Basin at the Rip Griffin Center.