KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Defending conference champion Fort Hays State was picked first in the MIAA women's basketball preseason coaches and media polls released Wednesday for MIAA media day.
The Tigers are coming off a banner season that saw them claim MIAA regular season and conference tournament championships and reach the regional finals.
It is the first time the Tigers have been ranked first in an MIAA preseason poll.
"With these predictions and polls early on, I’d rather be picked first than last, but it’s not that important where you start, it’s where you finish. I think everybody knows that," FHSU coach Tony Hobson said on Wednesday at The College Basketball Experience in Kansas City, Mo.
Fort Hays State, 32-2 a year ago, garnered 10 first-place votes in the coaches poll and 14 first-place votes in the media poll. Central Missouri was second in both polls, finishing six points back of FHSU in the coaches poll and eight points back in the media poll.
The Tigers will have to replace last year's MIAA player of the year, Tatyana Legette, but they return 10 players from a year ago, including All-MIAA performers Kacey Kennett (second team), Lanie Page (third team) and Belle Barbieri (honorable mention). Taylor Rolfs started for FHSU at the end of the season, while Whitney Randall, Hailey Walker and Madison Mittie are also back after playing key minutes off the bench last year.
"I think our chemistry will be good; it has been for some time now," said Hobson, who will begin his 12th year at Fort Hays with a 237-94 mark as Tigers' coach. "I think we'll be an unselfish team. We should have enough depth."
Fort Hays added two transfers who are expected to contribute immediately. Junior guard Jaden Hobbs transferred to FHSU from Oklahoma State, while sophomore guard Cassidy Haufler joins the Tigers after a year at Cloud County Community College. The Tigers have two freshmen in Lauryn Reither (Oklahoma City) and Allison McFarren (Wichita).
"I'm happy with our new kids, they all show a lot of promise and they fit in well with the rest of our kids and what we're trying to do," Hobson said.
Fort Hays State will open the preseason on Nov. 1 in an exhibition at Kansas State. The Tigers open the regular season against Minnesota Duluth on Nov. 8 in St. Joseph, Mo.
Check back to the hdnews.com and Friday's print edition for more on MIAA media day.
2019-20 MIAA Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Fort Hays State (10) - 166 points
2. Central Missouri (4) - 160 points
3. Washburn - 134 points
4. Pittsburg State - 131 points
5. Emporia State - 130 points
6. Nebraska Kearney - 100 points
7. Central Oklahoma - 97 points
8. Newman - 83 points
9. Missouri Southern - 67 points
10. Northwest Missouri - 64 points
11. Missouri Western - 62 points
12. Northeastern State - 37 points
13. Rogers State - 25 points
14. Lincoln - 17 points
2019-20 MIAA Women's Basketball Preseason Media Poll
1. Fort Hays State (14) - 271 points
2. Central Missouri (6) - 263 points
3. Pittsburg State - 227 points
4. Washburn - 217 points
5. Emporia State - 213 points
6. Nebraska Kearney - 161 points
7. Central Oklahoma - 160 points
8. Missouri Western - 131 points
9. Newman - 120 points
10. Missouri Southern - 109 points
11. Northwest Missouri - 84 points
12. Rogers State - 73 points
13. Northeastern State - 47 points
14. Lincoln - 23 points