Fort Hays State women picked as favorites in MIAA preseason poll

By Randy Gonzales
Special to the Hays Daily News

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Fort Hays State University women’s basketball team is ranked No. 1 in the preseason MIAA polls. Tiger coach Tony Hobson just hopes to avoid key injuries, as has been the case in recent seasons.

FHSU is first in the coaches’ poll, garnering six of a possible 13 votes. The Tigers are tied for first with Central Missouri in the media poll.

“Being picked at the top is always a little bit added pressure,” Hobson said at Tuesday’s media day. “Really, the preseason (poll) is not terribly important, but it’s a starting point.”

FHSU senior point guard Jaden Hobbs is one of the top returning players as the Tiger women’s basketball team is first in the MIAA preseason polls.

Fort Hays finished 22-4 overall and 20-2 to win the MIAA last season. The Tigers made the NCAA Division II national tournament for the sixth time in the last seven years, and was the top seed in their regional for the third time.

However, FHSU lost forward Cydney Bergmann, who was limited to 17 games, and freshman guard Sydney Golladay played 22 games before also getting injured. Before last year, the Tigers have also been unlucky, with injuries late in the season at the point guard position.

“We got bit by the injury bug and lost two starters the last three weeks of the regular season,” Hobson said. “It hurt us in the conference tournament and the regional.”

Hobson is lucky to have returning two All-America selections who took advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Senior forward Whitney Randall averaged 15 points per game and senior point guard Jaden Hobbs added 14.4 points, 6.0 assists, 2.2 steals, shot 45 percent from 3-point range and 84 percent from the foul line.

“It’s always good to have a point guard that’s a great player because you win a lot of close games with guards,” Hobson said of Hobbs. “The ball is always in their hands.

“Whitney Randall is a good scorer and a very active player,” he added. “They play well together.”

Another plus for the program is the team’s home-court advantage at Gross Memorial Coliseum.

“We have a great game venue, but if it was empty it would not be a big deal,” Hobson said. “You just have to have a good team and somebody they enjoy watching.

“We have great support,” he added. “The administration does a good job of putting on the game. I’ve never coached a game at Fort Hays State where the band wasn’t there, the cheerleaders weren’t there, the dance line wasn’t there. They’ve been there at every home game, and that’s just something you don’t see everywhere.”