Northland tops UMAC poll
Northland College, winner of the 2008-09 UMAC Women's Basketball Championship, was predicted to win the conference title yet again in 2009-10 according to a poll of the league's coaches. The LumberJills received 46 points and four-first place votes in the poll, besting Northwestern College, who tied for second in last year's season standings, by two points.
While the LumberJills return several key players from last year's conference championship team, one position they'll be replacing is that of the head coach. New coach Bill Wilson assumes the team's reigns after Dan Roiger departed in June. Wilson has a lot of talent to work with including the 2008-09 UMAC Player of the Year in guard Lindsay Hamm and All-UMAC first team forward Chelsea Lundgren.
Northwestern placed second. The Eagles will look to return to their conference championship form of 2007-08 this season having lost to Northland by just a game a year ago. The University of Minnesota, Morris shared second place with Northwestern in the final 2008-09 UMAC standings with an 11-3 record. The Cougars find themselves in third place in this year's pre-season poll. Though coach Tim Grove lost a trio of four-year starters from last year, Morris returns two first-team all-conference players in forward Steph Roggenbuck and guard Nikki Washek. Together, Roggenbuck and Washek return nearly 30 points per game to the Cougars' starting five. They will also receive meaningful veteran help from junior Diane Blommel. First-year player Emily Mehr, the all-time leading scorer at Aitkin High School, was named the Brainerd Dispatch Player of the Year.
Coming in fourth in the poll was the College of St. Scholastica. The Saints return just about everyone from last year's squad that went 6-8 in UMAC play. All-conference guard Kirsten Haukom is one of coach Stacy Deadrick's returners to watch. After finishing 7-7 in UMAC competition last year, Martin Luther College was predicted to finish fifth in the conference. Erica Babinec returns after earning her first team all-conference accolades.
Bethany Lutheran College took sixth place in the poll. Bethany returns a wealth of experience to the court as seven players from a year ago return to the court, five of whom have starting experience.
Presentation College and Crown College, who finished seventh and eighth in the pre-season solicitation, are both under new leadership after 5-9 and 0-14 UMAC records last year. A former UMAC All-Conference player at Morris, Alaina Benson takes over at Presentation this season. Coach Benson returns four of the Saints' starters from last year.
For Crown, Bill Adamson assumes the Storm coaching duties this season.