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WIAC Preview: Blugold Women's Basketball Picked to Finish Third

WIAC Preview: Blugold Women's Basketball Picked to Finish Third

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MADISON, Wis. ( - University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the two-time defending league champion, is the preseason choice to secure the 2013 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) women’s basketball crown, according to the conference’s head coaches and sports information directors.

The Pointers, who received 12 first-place votes in the poll, are coming off a 2011-12 campaign when they collected a share of the sixth WIAC regular-season championship in program history, won their fifth consecutive conference tournament crown and made their ninth NCAA Division III Championship appearance.

UW-Stevens Point is ranked seventh nationally in preseason polls conducted by and the USA Today/ESPN Division III Top 25, which was released by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association.  Senior Sam Barber is the reigning WIAC Player of the Year after leading the league with a .434 three-point field goal percentage and ranking second with 14.5 points per game.  A season ago, the Pointers finished 10th in NCAA Division III in assist-turnover ratio (1.04) and 13th in field goal percentage (.439).  Head Coach Shirley Egner enters her 24th season in charge of the program with a conference-best 433 victories.

UW-Whitewater, ranked eighth by and 10th by USA Today/ESPN, picked up the remaining six first-place votes in the league projections and is slotted for second in the nine-team race.  The Warhawks return four starters from a year ago, when they placed fifth in NCAA Division III with a .761 free throw shooting percentage and topped the WIAC in scoring offense (70.8), turnover margin (+5.52) and steals (12.48/game).  Junior Kaitlyn Thill is third in the UW-Whitewater record book with 197 career steals, while senior Courtney Kumerow was fourth in the conference with a .533 field goal percentage last season.  Head Coach Keri Carollo ranks second on school’s all-time victories list with 181.

UW-Eau Claire shared last year’s title with UW-Stevens Point to claim the 10th first-place trophy in program history.  The Blugolds’ 2012-13 roster includes 10 freshman, five sophomores, no juniors and three seniors.  Senior Sarah Bingea was second on the team in 2011-12 with 76 assists and 21 steals, third with 5.4 rebounds per game and fourth with 9.5 points per game.  Last year’s squad also placed sixth in NCAA Division III with a 10.9 rebounding margin.  UW-Eau Claire will play six of its first seven games at Zorn Arena, followed by seven straight away from home.

UW-River Falls senior Brittany Gregorich is the lone returning starter from last year’s unit that led the WIAC and ranked seventh in NCAA Division III with an 11.0 rebounding margin.  Gregorich has played 1,815 career minutes and has started the last 62 games for the Falcons - establishing career totals of 212 assists and 105 steals.  UW-River Falls has recorded 495 wins in program history and is 37-10 at home in the last four years.

UW-La Crosse recorded its sixth winning season in the last seven years a season ago and welcomes 11 newcomers to the 2012-13 roster.  In 2011-12, senior Briana Radowicz led the team with 59 assists and 51 steals, while placing second with 8.5 points per game.  Senior Katie Ehlen topped the squad with 7.0 rebounds per contest and finished fourth with 7.2 points per game.  The Eagles will play six of their first eight games on the road in 2012-13.

UW-Superior returns 13 letterwinners and three starters from last year’s squad that made the conference tournament for the first time since 2004.  The Yellowjackets were the third-highest scoring team in the league last season, averaging 64.7 points per contest.  Senior Connie Urmanski is the school’s all-time leader in three-pointers made with 157 and is 147 points shy of reaching 1,000 in her career.

UW-Platteville returns 84 percent of its points scored, 84 percent of its rebounding and 78 percent of its minutes played from the 2011-12 season.  Senior Liz Lawinger finished in the top 10 in seven of 13 individual categories in the conference and led the team with 12.8 points per game.  The Pioneers will begin the season with seven of eight games away from Bo Ryan Court, but play five of their last seven contests at home.

UW-Stout returns four of its top-five scorers and its top-nine rebounders from last season.  Six Blue Devils who played in all 25 games last year are back, including senior Whitney Rawdon who topped the squad with 146 rebounds (5.8/game), 235 points (9.4/game) and 46 steals.  The Blue Devils ranked second in the conference with 11.56 steals per contest during the 2011-12 campaign.

Brad Fischer begins his first season in charge at UW-Oshkosh after serving as an assistant coach at UW-Parkside for the previous five seasons.  He was an assistant at UW-La Crosse from 2003-06.  The Titans bring back seven of their top-eight scorers from last season, including seniors Katie Kitzke (13.8/game) and Megan Wenig (12.2/game).  UW-Oshkosh made 34.8 percent of its three-pointers last year to lead the WIAC.

2012-13 Preseason Predictions--Voted on by WIAC Head Coaches and Sports Information Directors

2011-12 Record
1.  UW-Stevens Point (12) 24-5 overall, 13-3 WIAC
2.  UW-Whitewater (6) 22-7, 12-4
3.  UW-Eau Claire 21-7, 13-3
4.  UW-River Falls 21-7, 12-4
5.  UW-La Crosse 16-10, 9-7
6.  UW-Superior 12-14, 5-11
7.  UW-Platteville 8-17, 4-12
8.  UW-Stout 7-18, 3-13
9.  UW-Oshkosh 7-18, 1-15
(  )--First-place votes

Team Snippets

UW-Eau Claire
Head Coach:  Tonja Englund; 13th season at UWEC; 236-102
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  7/8
Starters Returning/Lost:  2/3
Returning All-WIAC:  Sarah Bingea, Sr., F (2012-Honorable)

UW-La Crosse
Head Coach:  Lois Heeren; 20th season (14th at UWL); 223-267 (overall) / 171-165 (at UWL)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  6/5
Starters Returning/Lost:  2/3
Returning All-WIAC:  None

Head Coach:  Brad Fischer; 1st season at UWO
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  11/4
Starters Returning/Lost:  4/1
Returning All-WIAC:  Katie Kitzke, Sr., G (2012-Honorable); Megan Wenig, Sr., G (2012-Honorable)

Head Coach:  Megan Wilson; 3rd season at UWP; 14-36
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  9/9
Starters Returning/Lost:  4/1
Returning All-WIAC:  Liz Lawinger, Sr., G (2012-Honorable); Kim Wellnitz, Jr., C (2012-Honorable)

UW-River Falls
Head Coach:  Cindy Holbrook; 13th season at UWRF; 174-139
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  12/6
Starters Returning/Lost:  1/4
Returning All-WIAC:  None

UW-Stevens Point
Head Coach:  Shirley Egner; 24th season at UWSP; 433-183
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  11/5
Starters Returning/Lost:  3/2
Returning All-WIAC:  Brooke Allen, Sr., G (2012-All-Defensive); Sam Barber, Sr., G (2012-Player of the Year)

Head Coach:  Mark Thomas; 26th season at UWST; 421-245
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  9/6
Starters Returning/Lost:  4/1
Returning All-WIAC:  Whitney Rawdon, Sr., F (2012-Honorable); Sami Schoeder, Jr., G (2011-Honorable)

Head Coach:  Donald Mulhern; 16th season (7th at UWS); 172-210 (overall) / 46-105 (at UWS)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  13/6
Starters Returning/Lost:  3/2
Returning All-WIAC:  Sally Linzmeier, So., G (2012-Honorable, 2012-All-Defensive); Connie Urmanski, Sr., G (2010-Honorable, 2012-Honorable)

Head Coach:  Keri Carollo; 11th season at UWW; 181-95
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  12/5
Starters Returning/Lost:  4/1
Returning All-WIAC:  Courtney Kumerow, Sr., C (2012-First); Kaitlyn Thill, Jr., G (2011-All-Defensive, 2012-First, 2012-All-Defensive)

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