TOWSON, Md. – The Moravian College women's basketball team has been to the Landmark playoffs every year and earned a title in 2010. Head Coach Mary Beth Spirk has her team back fighting for the championship and the conference coaches have taken note. The Greyhounds were picked first in this year's preseason poll after receiving six first place votes and 67 points.
Last year's runner-up, University of Scranton, was picked second with one first place vote and 52 points while Juniata was picked third with the final first-place vote and 37 points. Defending champion, Catholic University, rounded out the top half of the poll in fourth place with 36 points.
Moravian (22-7, 11-3) earned the No. 2 seed in the 2013 tournament, but just missed out on the championship game with a one-point loss to No. 3 Scranton in the semifinal. The Greyhounds look to continue their success with 12 players and four starters back from last year's 22-7 squad that was nationally-ranked and reached the championship game of the ECAC Division III South Tournament. The Greyhounds were picked 22nd in the country in the Women's DIII News Preseason Top 25 last month, and the squad faces a tough non-conference schedule with a pair of games in Texas to open the year and they have a game with preseason No. 1 Montclair State in December as well as a total of nine games against schools that were picked to finish in the top three of their conferences by Women's DIII News. Junior Alexis Wright and senior Katie O'Rourke will lead the squad on the floor after making the First Team All-Landmark a year ago. Wright also earned Honorable Mention All-American honors last winter.
Scranton (19-9, 10-4) will lean heavily on its three returning starters as they look to replace the veteran leadership provided by Erin Boggan and Katherine Torto last season. A talented group of juniors and sophomores will need to step up and provide offense behind Meredith Mesaris' inside game and Alison Sweeney's outside shooting. A six-player freshman class may also be asked to contribute immediately.
The Eagles (19-9, 9-5) return four of their five starters from a year ago including two-time First Team All-Landmark selection, Kate McDonald. McDonald led the team in scoring with 14.1 points per game and pulled in 10.6 rebounds per game. Fellow senior Jordan Hileman dished out 3.0 assists per game, second on the team only to McDonald. With the addition of a host of newcomers, Juniata will look to climb back to the top of the Landmark standings.
Catholic (27-2, 13-1) lost a lot of production to graduation in 2013. The 2013-14 team features 12 freshmen looking to make an impact immediately. Senior Emily Grabiak is the lone returning starter and brings a wealth of talent. She is a two-time All-Landmark selection who finished second in NCAA Division III in assist turnover ratio last year at 2.71 while chipping in with 9.0 points per game. Classmate Liz Briones is looking to return to the form she displayed as a freshman, after an injury-plagued two years.
Drew University (9-16, 5-9) was picked fifth in the poll with 19 points and Susquehanna University (8-17, 3-11) was picked sixth with 16 points. Goucher College (6-18, 2-12) earned 15 points for seventh place while the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (12-13, 3-11) wrapped up with 14 points for the eighth spot.
The 2013-14 season kicks off Friday, Nov. 15 with six teams in action. The remaining two teams will begin competition later that week.
The top four teams in the final regular season standings qualify for postseason play in the Landmark Conference Tournament. The top two seeds will host semifinals Feb. 26 with the highest remaining seed scheduled to host the championship Mar. 1. The conference champion will earn the automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
|2013 Landmark Women's Basketball Preseason Poll|
|Rank||Institution (First Place)||Points|