IRVING, Texas – Middle Tennessee was picked as the preseason favorite in the Conference USA Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll and senior Ebony Rowegrabbed preseason accolades, as released by the league office on Monday.
The Raiders earned eight first place votes from the league coaches, as MT approaches its’ inaugural season in C-USA. UTEP garnered six votes to place second in the poll. Tulane, Charlotte and FIU rounded out the top five.
“It shows you the respect that Conference USA has for our program,” said head coach Rick Insell. “We have a lot of returning players with valuable minutes from last year coming back. We also have a challenging non-conference schedule. I think more than anything it is respect for the program. Now, it’s up to us to go forward with it.”
Middle Tennessee, last season’s Sun Belt champion, is aiming for its sixth straight NCAA Championship appearance under Insell. The Blue Raiders finished 2012-13 with a 25-8 mark and have made the NCAA Tournament in nine of the last 10 seasons. Additionally, the Raiders have won five consecutive regular season titles.
Rowe, a native of Lexington, Ky., earned one of eight spots on the C-USA Preseason team. She was an All-American Honorable Mention in 2013 and already holds the Blue Raider record for career rebounds (1,014). The senior forward produced 21 double-doubles, averaged 19.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per game, while ranking among the top-25 in four NCAA categories last season.
“She’s one of the top players in the country,” said Insell. “There are some good players in Conference USA and I think Ebony is good as anyone out there.”
Coach Insell, along with the 15 other league coaches, will partake in the C-USA Media Days on Tuesday, Oct. 8 in Irving, Texas. A live stream of Coach Insell’s comments will be available at 10:05 a.m. CT online via the C-USA Digital Network. To access the video, visit ConferenceUSA.com.
2013-14 CONFERENCE USA PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Middle Tennessee (8) 244
2. UTEP (6) 231
3. Tulane 212
4. Charlotte (1) 196
5. FIU 190
6. Old Dominion 170
7. East Carolina 155
8. UAB 129
9. Tulsa 116
10. Rice 114
11. Louisiana Tech 98
12. North Texas(1) 92
13. Southern Miss 78
14. Florida Atlantic 58
14. UTSA 58
16. Marshall 35
(#) denotes first‐place votes
2013-14 CONFERENCE USA PRESEASON TEAM
Guard Jerrica Coley – FIU
Forward Jessica Kuster – Rice
Forward Ebony Rowe – Middle Tennessee
Forward Shae Kelley – Old Dominion
Point Guard Jamierra Faulkner – Southern Miss
Guard Danielle Blagg – Tulane
Forward Karisma Chapman – UAB
Forward Kayla Thornton – UTEP