Register Staff Report
With all five starters back from a team that advanced to quarterfinals of last year’s Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, the expectations surrounding this season’s EKU women’s basketball team are as high as they’ve been in recent years.
On Monday, the Lady Colonels were picked to finish second in the OVC East in a preseason poll released at the league’s media day in Nashville.
EKU received six first-place votes in the poll and junior guard Marie Carpenter was named to the Preseason All-OVC Team.
Tennessee Tech received 15 first-place votes and 121 points to take the top spot in the East Division poll. League newcomer Belmont earned three first-place votes and 86 points to finish third, while Morehead State (69 points), Tennessee State (68 points) and Jacksonville State (40 points) rounded out the poll.
Carpenter led EKU in scoring at 13.4 points per game as a sophomore. The Nashville native shot a sizzling 41.8 percent from three-point range and 81.9 percent from the free throw line. Her three-point shooting percentage was the second-best by a sophomore in EKU history and it also ranked second in the OVC last year.
The Lady Colonels also return senior guards Raechele Gray and Brittany Coles. Gray started all 29 games at point guard in 2011-12 and led the team in assists, steals and free throw percentage, while Coles enters her final year at EKU seven three-pointers shy of reaching the school’s top 10 list in that category.
EKU also returns talent and experience in the paint. Senior forward Alex Jones, a two-time Second-Team All-OVC performer, became the 21st member of the Lady Colonels’ 1,000-point club last year, while senior center Jade Barber was second on the team in scoring (11.2 ppg) and was named the OVC Newcomer of the Week five times in 2011-12.
OVC basketball will have a new look in 2012-13 as the conference welcomes Belmont and also debuts its new divisional format.
Defending OVC champion UT Martin was picked to finish first in the West Division. The Skyhawks’ Heather Butler, meanwhile, was selected as the preseason conference Player of the Year.
Voting for the preseason all-conference team and the preseason poll was conducted by the OVC’s 12 head coaches and 12 sports information women’s basketball contacts.
EKU will play an exhibition game at home against Georgetown College on Nov. 2 before opening the regular season by playing host to Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 9.