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Thursday, November 01, 2007

MU women's hoops - Fifth place pick ""baffles'' Baxter. Team is disappointed. Participate in poll at the bottom

for Friday Press


It's been an optimistic preseason so far for the Monmouth University women's basketball team.

With nine seniors and juniors who saw considerable action returning from last year's 18-13 (10-8 Northeast Conference, t/4th place) team, plus the addition of All-America junior college point guard Marbely Montas, the Hawks feel good about themselves.

They like their chances of soaring to their first league title since 1988 and winning their first NEC Tournament since 1987.

Apparently that feeling isn't shared by other NEC coaches.

Monmouth was picked fifth, which would be its lowest finish since 2001, in voting conducted by conference head coaches and announced Thursday. The Hawks have landed in third and fourth place ties the last six seasons.

""It was baffling just in the sense we were picked higher last year and all those same players are back this year from a team that made it to the (NEC Tournament) semifinal game and won 18 games,'' said Michele Baxter, Monmouth coach.

""But, so be it. That's how it is sometimes.''

Long Island, the NEC's top tournament seed a year ago, garnered six first-place votes out of the conference's 11 head coaches who were not permitted to rank their own teams. Monmouth did not receive a first place vote.

Monmouth senior Veronica Randolph said she thought the team would be picked in the top three.

""Everybody seems pretty disappointed and definitely surprised we got picked fifth,'' Randolph said. ""It's motivation for us. Everybody is hungry for the championship.''

Baxter said Monmouth looked strong in a closed scrimmage last week at Bucknell which defeated Monmouth by 14 points last season.

""Because of injuries we started five players who had never started together last year,''s said Baxter.

Senior point guard Brianne Edwards (knee), and juniors Lakia Barber (ACL) and Marisa Jimenez (shoulder) did not play vs. Bucknell.

Jimenez and Barber are expected to play Saturday in a closed scrimmage at home vs. St. Peter's, with Edwards due back around Thanksgiving.

""For that being the first time with that group together against such a quality team it made me excited,'' Baxter said. ""It showed me what type of depth and quality of talent this team can have.''

""We've seen we can be a very powerful team,'' said Randolph. ""We did very well, had a lot of people step up.''

""We're ready to go this year,'' Baxter said. ""We hope we can maintain the intensity we have right now as a team.''

The Hawks open the 2007-2008 season 7 p.m. Friday at Rider.

Below from the NEC web site were much more is on line.....

Long Island Tabbed as NEC Women's Basketball 2007-08 Preseason Favorite
Blackbirds In Search of First Title Since 2001; Preseason All-Conference Selections Announced

Northeast Conference
Women’s Basketball
Preseason Coaches Poll

1. Long Island (6)
2. Robert Morris (3)
3. Quinnipiac (2)
4. Sacred Heart
5. Monmouth
6. St. Francis (NY)
7. Fairleigh Dickinson
8. Mount St. Mary's
9. Saint Francis (PA)
10. Central Connecticut St.

First place votes in parentheses


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