RMAC coaches say Lions have mountain to climb

By Doug Fitzgerald published November 1, 2010

In an announcement that surprised no one, the University of Colorado at Colorado at Colorado Springs women's basketball team was picked to finish dead last in the annual Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference's preseason coaches' poll, which was released Monday.

The reasons for the low expectations are obvious. After finishing a dismal 2-17 in RMAC play this past season, the Mountain Lions are an unknown to conference coaches. Only five players return from last year's team, and Corey Laster comes in as the Mountain Lions' third coach in as many years.

Still, an air of optimism surrounds the Mountain Lions. A recruiting class regarded as among the best in program history has significantly upgraded the talent level and Laster has made fast progress in whipping them into a cohesive unit.

But that optimism is, for now, limited to the UCCS campus. The Mountain Lions received 163 points in the poll, which is based on the RMAC coaches ranking each team from 1-13 (omitting their own team). Since 169 points is the maximum possible, the Mountain Lions were picked last on at least seven ballots.

Adams State, which went 14-5 in RMAC play a year ago and returned most of its key players, was picked to finish first with 25 points. Fort Lewis, which was the national runner up in 2009-10 but graduated six of its top seven scorers, was second with 29. Colorado Mines (48 points) and Colorado State-Pueblo (50), each of which got one first-place vote, were picked to finish third and fourth respectively.

That quartet was followed by Colorado Christian (66), Metro State (70), Nebraska-Kearney (95), Western State (98), Mesa State (109), Chadron State (112), Western New Mexico (114), Regis (140), New Mexico Highlands (149) and UCCS.

Vera Jo Bustos of Adams State was picked as the RMAC Preseason Player of the Year, while Metro State's Kristin Valencia was named the preseason defensive player of the year. Joining those two on the preseason all-conference team were Kaitlin Petri (Chadron State), Katrina Selsor (Mesa State), Brecca Gaffney (Colorado Mines), Debi Johnson (Nebraska-Kearney), Kendra Coveal (Adams State), Abby Jackson (Fort Lewis), Brooke Pendergraft (Western State) and Megan Becker (Nebraska-Kearney).

 For the RMAC preseason release, click here.

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