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SBC Picks Lady Raiders third, Blue Raiders fifth

October 24, 2001 · MT Media Relations

The Sun Belt Conference kicked off its media day activities on Wednesday with the announcement of the preseason coaches' poll and All-Sun Belt teams were announced.

The Lady Raider basketball team was predicted to finish third in the Eastern Division. Florida International was picked to win that division with Western Kentucky chosen second. Arkansas State and Arkansas-Little Rock rounded out the SBC East.

In the West, Denver was picked as the division winner with North Texas a close second. South Alabama was chosen third, New Orleans came in at fourth, New Mexico State was fifth, and Louisiana-Lafayette was sixth.

"I'm optimistic about our team," said head coach Stephany Smith. "We have a talented team, but we're very young. Six of our seven newcomers are freshmen, so you never know how fast they will mature, but if everything shakes out the way we think it will, we will be very competitive."

Senior Jamie Thomatis, a unanimous selection to the league's Preseason All-Conference team, will lead Smith's team. Thomatis is Middle Tennessee's lone selection to the list.

"Jamie led the team in nearly every category last year. She was in the top 10 in the Sun Belt in most of those categories and was among the nation's leaders. I'm not one for individual honors, but she is deserving of this award."

The Blue Raiders were selected fifth in the East Division of the Sun Belt in the poll of men's coaches.

Western Kentucky, a Top 30 team according to several publications, was chosen to win the East with Arkansas State coming in second. Florida International was picked third and Arkansas-Little Rock was fourth.

New Mexico State headed the West while UL Lafayette was chosen second and South Alabama was picked third. Denver appeared in fourth place with New Orleans and North Texas finishing up the division.

"These polls are based on the outcome of last season," said head coach Randy Wiel. No one really knows what anyone has yet. The final finish never really reflects the preseason polls anyway. We will be a competitive team in this league this year."

No Blue Raider was chosen on the All-Sun Belt team, but sophomore Tommy Gunn was selected as honorable mention.

"Tommy had a good first season and we hope that he can build on that this year. He is certainly an exciting player to watch."

Women's Predicted Order of Finish
East Division

  1. Florida International
  2. Western Kentucky
  3. Middle Tennessee
  4. Arkansas State
  5. Arkansas State

West Divison

  1. Denver
  2. North Texas
  3. South Alabama
  4. New Orleans
  5. New Mexico State
  6. Louisiana-Lafayette

Preseason All-Sun Belt
Lyletha Gamble, USA
Melissa Garcia, Denver
Jolie McKeirnan, ASU
Natalie Powers, WKU
Taneisha Russell, USA
Gergana Slavtcheva, FIU
Rae-Anne Smith, ASU
Ivana Stojkovic, NMSU
JamieThomatis, MT
Nikki Weddle, Denver

Honorable Mention
Jessica Durham, UNO
Melanie Maynes, NMSU
Cheryl Moody, FIU
Rosalyn Reades, UNT
Shemeka Strong, UALR

Preseason Player of the Year
Natalie Powers, WKU

Men's Predicted Order of Finish
East Division

  1. Western Kentucky
  2. Arkansas State
  3. Florida International
  4. Arkansas-Little Rock
  5. Middle Tennessee
West Division
  1. New Mexico State
  2. Louisiana-Lafayette
  3. South Alabama
  4. Denver
  5. New Orleans
  6. North Texas

Preseason All-Sun Belt
Eric Channing, NMSU
Chris Davis, UNT
Blane Harmon, UL
Jason Jennings, ASU
Anthony Johnson, UL
Chris Marcus, WKU
James Moore, NMSU
BJ Pratt, Denver
Derek Robinson, WKU
Demetrice Williams, USA

Honorable Mention
Wahhab Carter, Denver
Tommy Gunn, MT
Nick Rivers, ASU
Kolin Weaver, ASU
Henry Williams, USA

Preseason Player of the Year
Chris Marcus, WKU

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