Photo Courtesy: Arkansas Media Relations
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark.) - The University of Arkansas women's basketball team was selected 12th in the Southeastern Conference Preseason Media Poll the league announced today.
"We certainly would have liked to have been picked higher and I'm not sure our selection is indicative of the talent we have on this team," Arkansas head coach Tom Collen said. "Fortunately for us, we have finished higher than we were picked in the last six seasons.
"We have won 20-plus games the last three years and have been in the NCAA tournament or on the bubble each of those seasons and I think we will be in the mix again this year. We return three starters and four players that played substantial minutes for us this past season. There is no doubt that our No. 20-ranked recruiting class will be relied upon to make immediate impacts. If that happens, I think this team has a pretty good chance to be more successful than last year's team. Fortunately, we will have the opportunity to prove that on the floor."
The @RazorbackWBB team returns five players with collegiate experience on the 12-player roster this season. Senior Keira Peak and juniors Calli Berna and Jhasmin Bowen all started last season with sophomore Melissa Wolff and redshirt sophomore Joey Bailey both getting good minutes in 2012-13.
But gone is the post presence of former All-SEC Sarah Watkins and Quistelle Williams along with the outside shooting of long range bomber Erin Gatling leaving some questions for Collen and his young team.
Bowen will have to step up in the post improving on her 6.8 ppg and 4.0 rpg last season. She will also get some help from freshmen Jessica Jackson, Khadijah West and redshirt freshman Ana-Carlota Faussurier. Faussurier won a gold medal with Spain's U19 team last summer.
Berna will continue to run the point with Peak on one of the wings. The duo will also have McKenzie Adams, Kelsey Brooks, Aujontae Daniels and Bria Pitts to help carry the load.
As the reigning SEC regular season champions, Tennessee returns three starters from last season's 27-8 squad that advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight squad, including SEC Co-Player of the Year Meighan Simmons and SEC Freshman of the Year Bashaara Graves.
Tennessee tops the order of finish with 192 points, with Kentucky (185), LSU (156), Texas A&M (144), Vanderbilt (134), Georgia (132) and South Carolina (131) rounding out the top half the league. Auburn (84), Missouri (74), Florida (67), Mississippi State (66), Arkansas (57), Ole Miss (2) and Alabama (18) round out the selections.
Tennessee's Meighan Simmons was the overwhelming choice of the media for SEC Women's Basketball Player of the Year with 10 votes; the remaining votes were for LSU's Theresa Plaisance.
Joining Simmons and Plaisance on the All-SEC First Team are DeNesha Stallworth, Kentucky; Bashaara Graves, Tennessee; Jasmine Lister, Vanderbilt.
The @RazorbackWBB team gets a chance to talk hoops Thursday at SEC Basketball Media Day in Birmingham, Ala. They open the season with an exhibition game against Missouri Southern Nov. 3, followed by the home opener Nov. 8 against Sam Houston State.