The Missouri State women’s basketball squad was voted sixth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll while senior forward Maggie Dwyer was named to the league’s preseason all-conference squad at Tuesday’s (Oct. 28) MVC Media Day in St. Louis.
Dwyer was a second-team all-conference pick and the MVC Newcomer of the Year in 2007-08 after averaging a team-high 13.6 points per contest. The Grand Haven, Mich., native is the Lady Bears top returning scorer, rebounder and assister, and the only Valley returner to average more than 13 points and five boards last year.
"Maggie is so much more comfortable than she was at this time last year," commented Milleson. "She’s been such a great role model for our younger players and clearly has a better idea of what we need to do to be successful as a team. I think she’s primed and ready to have a great senior year."
Illinois State (400 points) was the unanimous pick of the Valley’s coaches, sports information directors and media affiliates for the top spot in the preseason poll. The Redbirds return four starters, including two-time reigning Jackie Stiles MVC Player of the Year Kristi Cirone, following a 2007-08 campaign that saw ISU win a share of the league’s regular-season title, then outclass the field at the State Farm MVC Tournament to earn the conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament. Cirone junior guard Maggie Krick each earned a spot on the preseason all-conference squad, making ISU the only program to place multiple players on the team.
Creighton (310 points) narrowly edged Drake (297) and Evansville (251), two teams that shared the regular-season championship with Illinois State a year ago, for the No. 2 spot in this year’s poll. The Bluejays return three starters and eight letterwinners from a team that won 21 games and advanced to the second round of the WNIT in 2007-08.
Coming off an 11-19 campaign and fifth-place regular-season finish in the MVC in head coach Nyla Milleson’s first season, Missouri State tallied 215 total points in the preseason poll to finish sixth, 30 points behind UNI in the fifth spot. The Lady Bears return two starters and six letterwinners overall this year.
"Sixth is certainly not where we want to finish," head coach Nyla Milleson says, "but based on what everybody else in the league has returning and given who we lost, it’s probably a fair preseason assessment. I do think we’ll improve as the year goes on and have the opportunity to surprise some people by the end of the season."
Rounding out the order of finish are Indiana State (166 points) in seventh with Bradley (161) close behind in eighth, followed by Southern Illinois (108) and Wichita State (47).
UNI’s Jacqui Kalin, the 2008 MVC Freshman of the Year, and Evansville’s Shannon Novosel joined Cirone, Dwyer and Krick on the Valley’s preseason all-conference team.
The Lady Bears will kick off the 2008-09 season Saturday (Nov. 1) with a 7:05 p.m. exhibition contest against Southwestern Oklahoma State at Hammon Student Center. After another exhibition (Nov. 9) versus Arkansas Tech, MSU will begin its 40th season of competition with a Nov. 14 road tilt against Southeast Missouri State, before playing their inaugural game at JQH Arena against Arkansas State on Nov. 23.
Story courtesy Eric Doennig, Missouri State athletics