From Staff Reports
The Peach Belt Conference released its 2009-10 Peach Belt Conference preseason poll for women's basketball on Tuesday, and the Clayton State Lakers were picked as the preseason favorite in the poll voted on by the PBC head women's coaches. This is the third in the last four seasons that Clayton State has been selected as the PBC preseason favorite.
Head coach Dennis Cox's Lakers received seven out of 12 possible first-place votes and 137 total points to place first, just ahead of defending PBC regular season champion Francis Marion. Defending PBC Tournament champion Lander was selected third, followed by Columbus State, Georgia College, USC Aiken, UNC Pembroke, Armstrong Atlantic, North Georgia, Georgia Southwestern, PBC newcomer Montevallo, Augusta State and PBC newcomer Flagler.
Clayton State made PBC history last season by becoming the first conference team to advance to the NCAA Division II "Elite Eight" for a second time. The Lakers are coming off an impressive 26-7 campaign in 2008-09, including 16-4 in the Peach Belt Conference.
This season, Clayton State is ranked 16th in the nation in the Division II Bulletin Preseason Top 25 poll.
Cox returns two starters from last season in senior guard Lesheria Stevens and sophomore guard Brittany Hall. In addition, senior center Jene'e Jemison and sophomore forward Tanisha Woodard should contribute heavily, along with junior wing Jorane Metelus, who medical redshirted last season.
The talented recruiting class includes one Division I transfer, one Division II transfer and five players from the JUCO ranks.
Headlining the Laker newcomers is senior forward LaDe'Sha Stoudamire, a transfer from Arkansas State and the younger sister of Phoenix Suns All-Star forward Amare Stoudamire.
The Peach Belt Conference will undergo several changes for the 2009-10 season, the foremost of which is a return to division play. With the additions of Flagler and the Montevallo, the PBC will be split into east and west divisions.
In the east will be Augusta State, USC Aiken, Lander, Flagler, Armstrong Atlantic, Francis Marion and UNC Pembroke while the west will have Montevallo, Columbus State, Georgia Southwestern, Georgia College, Clayton State and North Georgia.
Clayton State plays two preseason exhibition games to start the season - Nov. 8 at Division I Georgia, and Nov. 12 at home against old NAIA rival LaGrange. The Lakers officially open the regular season on Nov. 25 at 5:30 p.m. at home against Albany State.