The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi women's basketball team has been picked to finish fifth in the Western Division of the Southland Conference in both the coaches and sports information directors poll. Islander center Elisa Beagle has also been chosen as a pre-season first-team All-SLC pick.
Leading the Islanders will be first-team All-SLC selection Elisa Beagle. Beagle is a senior center for the Islanders who averaged 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season and has steadily climbed the all-time Islander statistical charts. Beagle comes into the season as the second-leading rebounder in Islander history with 642 and is seventh all-time in points scored with 806.
"This is a great honor for Elisa." said head coach Robert Robinson. "She is very deserving. She is a dominate post player who will use this as a motivating factor to be the best she can as she enters her final year."
Including Beagle at the center position, the Islanders return four starters from last years team that finished with a 12-20 overall record and a 7-9 record in SLC games while making it to the SLC Tournament semifinals. Despite the four returning starters, both the coaches and sports information directors picked the Islanders to finish in fifth place in the Western Division.
Robinson is taking it all in stride.
"Nobody has seen us play so they have to go off where we finished last season." said Robinson. "It seems like every year a team that did well the season before falters and a team that struggled does really well so you can't put too much emphasis on the pre-season polls."
UTSA, Texas State, Lamar and UT Arlington are picked ahead of TAMUCC while Sam Houston was picked to finish last in the Western Division.
"To be considered the best, we are going to have to beat the teams ahead of us anyway." said Robinson. "We play UTSA, Texas State, Lamar and the other teams picked to finish in front of us, so we will have the opportunity to prove ourselves on the court."
The Western Divison features five of the top eight SLC Tournament participants from last season, including the top three seeds from a year ago.
"We feel like although we were picked fifth in the west, we are still one of the top six teams in the conference." said coach Robinson. "The divison is so strong from top to bottom that we feel we will be right there come tournament time."
While UTSA was picked to finish atop the Western Division by both the coaches and sports information directors, the SFA Lady Jacks were picked as the favorite by both in the Eastern Division.
2008-09 Southland Conference
Women's Basketball Preseason Teams
Monica Gibbs*, UTSA 5'8 Sr. G Stillwater, Okla./Stillwater HS
Onika Anderson*, UTSA 5'10 Sr. F Pine Bluff, Ark./Carl Albert JC
Elisa Beagle*, AMCC 6'0 Sr. C Houston, Texas/Hightower HS
Brittney Williams*, LU 5'10 Jr. F Spring, Texas/Spring HS
Nikki Williams*, LU 5'5 Sr. G White Castle, La./Copiah-Lincoln CC
Candice Champion, UTA 6'1 Sr. F Waco, Texas/University HS
Kristy Carlin, SLU 6'0 Sr. F Walker, La./Walker HS
Ashley Cole, TXST 5'9 Jr. G Port Arthur, Texas/Cowley College
Shante' Perry, MCN 5'9 Jr. F Cleveland, Texas/Cleveland HS
Whitney York, UTSA 5'5 So. G Bryan, Texas/Bryan HS
Coaches Poll SID Poll
East Division East Division
Stephen F. Austin 66 (11) Stephen F. Austin 63 (9)
McNeese State 49 (1) McNeese State 47 (2)
Northwestern State 44 Southeastern Louisiana 43
Southeastern Louisiana 42 Northwestern State 42
Central Arkansas 31 Central Arkansas 35 (1)
Nicholls State 16 Nicholls State 16
West Division West Division
UTSA 62 (7) UTSA 65 (10)
Texas State 49 (3) Texas State 47 (2)
Lamar 48 (1) Lamar 47
UT Arlington 40 (1) UT Arlington 44
A&M-Corpus Christi 28 A&M-Corpus Christi 26
Sam Houston State 16 Sam Houston State 17