Marshall women picked to finish last
HUNTINGTON -- Conference USA women's basketball head coaches predicted a last-place finish for the Marshall Thundering Herd.
Tulane was forecast to finish first and edge defending champion UTEP for the regular season title. Tulane and UTEP both received five votes for first place. UAB, Rice and Memphis rounded out the top five in the C-USA coaches preseason poll.
"I feel confident going into the season that we have a strong group returning," Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said. "Starting No. 1 is nice, but finishing No. 1 is certainly our goal. There are a lot of games to be played before the end of the season, but I'm proud of the group for what they were able to accomplish last year to get this kind of recognition from the coaches in the conference."
Tulane had a 23-11 record last season, finished tied for third place in the conference at 9-7 and played in the Women's NIT.
UTEP (29-4, 15-1) won the 2012 C-USA regular season title and the tournament championship. The Miners lost to Penn State in the NCAA tournament first round.
Marshall was 16-14 overall and tied for seventh place in C-USA at 7-9. Matt Daniel is the new Thundering Herd head coach.
Rice forward Jessica Kuster, a 6-foot-2 junior, was chosen as the preseason conference player of the year.
Kuster averaged 17.3 points and 11.1 rebounds while earning All-CUSA first team and All-CUSA Defensive Team recognition.
C-USA WOMEN'S PRESEASON POLL
1. Tulane (5)
2. UTEP (5)
3. UAB (1)
5. Memphis (1)
7. Southern Miss
11. East Carolina
ALL-CUSA WOMEN'S PRESEASON TEAM
Nicole Dickson, Memphis, F, 6-0, Sr.
x-Jessica Kuster, Rice, F, 6-2, Jr.
Akil Simpson, SMU, F, 6-0, Jr.
Jamierra Faulkner, G, 5-6, Jr.
Olivia Grayson, Tulane, G, 5-8, Sr.
Taleya Mayberry, Tulsa, G, 5-6, Sr.
Karisma Chapman, UAB, F, 5-11, Jr.
Kayla Thornton, UTEP, F, 6-1, JR.
x-Preseason Player of the Year