The Mid-American Conference’s preseason women’s basketball poll may not have been a surprise to the coaches who voted in it.
But the results of that poll probably will surprise longtime league followers because neither Bowling Green State University nor the University of Toledo was picked to win its division.
In the East the Falcons were picked to finish second behind last year’s regular-season champ, Akron. The Zips received nine of the 12 coaches’ votes, while BG received the other three.
“I think the poll reflects what happened the previous year and takes into account seniors who have graduated,” Falcons coach Jennifer Roos said. “When people ask me how I think the team will do, I tell them it depends on how practice goes that day — and you’ve caught me on the wrong day.
“If you would have seen our practice [Tuesday], you wouldn’t have picked us nearly that high.”
BG returns three starters and seven letterwinners from last season, when the team posted a 24-11 record, went 11-5 in the MAC, and reached the third round of the WNIT. But the Zips bring back four starters and 10 letterwinners from a year ago, when Akron was 23-10 and 12-4 in the MAC.
“I think [this vote] gives our team confidence that all of its hard work has paid off,” Akron coach Jodi Kest said. “I think it’s also a testament to how far we’ve come as a program and what we did last year.
“I think our kids earned this, and we’re pleased with it. But we also know it doesn’t matter where you start, it’s where you finish that counts.”
Behind Akron and Bowling Green in the East Division were Buffalo, Miami, Ohio, and Kent State in that order.
In the West Division, Toledo probably wasn’t surprised to be picked behind Central Michigan, which received all 12 first-place votes after returning three starters and 10 letterwinners from last year’s MAC Tournament champions.
But the Rockets, who were 29-4 overall and 15-1 in the MAC a year ago, were picked for third, also trailing Ball State.
“I didn’t expect to be above Toledo,” admitted Ball State coach Brady Sallee, who returns all five starters from last year’s squad, which went 17-16 overall and 12-4 in the MAC. “What they have done for years and years has to earn your respect.
“[Second for Toledo] is how I picked it.”
Behind CMU, Ball State, and Toledo were Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, and Northern Illinois.
“I wasn’t surprised [to be picked third],” UT coach Tricia Cullop said. “Even though our team is towards the top, I warned the team: Don’t expect [first place] to happen.”
Central Michigan received nine votes to win the MAC tournament, while Akron, Bowling Green, and Miami each received one vote.
The preseason All-MAC East Division team includes Bowling Green senior Alexis Rogers. The rest of the East Division team is Hanna Luburgh and Rachel Tecca of Akron, Mackenzie Loesing of Buffalo, and Hannah Robertson of Miami.
Two Rockets are on the preseason West Division team in senior Andola Dortch and junior Inma Zanoguera. The rest of the West squad is Nathalie Fontaine of Ball State and Central Michigan’s Crystal Bradford and Jessica Green.