UTC's Women's Basketball team ranked in the Preseason AP Top 25
(gomocs.com)-- For the first time in school history, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team earned a spot in the Preseason AP Top 25 poll released today. It also gives Jim Foster his fourth different team ranked in the preseason Top 25 in his career.
The Mocs reached their highest ranking ever in the AP Top 25, finishing the 2014-15 season ranked 17th, marking just the second time UTC has ranked in the AP Poll. In 1984, the Lady Mocs lost by one point to Vanderbilt in the National Women’s Invitation Tournament championship game and were ranked as high as 19 for three weeks before closing the season at No. 20 in the then-AP Top 20.
This is Foster’s fourth coaching stint. At each institution, he has led his teams to conference titles, the NCAA tournament and Top 25 rankings. With the Mocs first preseason Top 25 ranking in the AP Poll, Fosters now has had four different teams earn that recognition.
At St. Joseph’s, the Hawks were ranked four times in the preseason poll and received votes in a fifth. At Vanderbilt, he led the Commodores to six Top 10 rankings and were in the preseason poll 10 times, reaching as high as second in the 1993-94 season and twice ranked third.
Nine times with the Buckeyes, Foster’s teams earned preseason recognition. In his fourth year, Ohio State was picked fourth in the AP preseason poll and reached as high as third in the 2009-10 poll.
Chattanooga closed out the year at 29-4 with a third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and matching a school record for wins. The Mocs are picked to win a fourth straight Southern Conference title this season and returns four starters from last year’s SoCon championship squad.
Junior Jasmine Joyner (Southaven, Miss.) headlines a veteran-laden team that includes 2015 SoCon Defensive Player of the Year Alicia Payne (Memphis, Tenn.) and all-conference honoree Chelsey Shumpert (Paducah, Ky.). Sophomore Keiana Gilbert (Pulaski, Tenn.), who earned a spot on the SoCon all-freshman team, will be paired once again with her sister Aryanna who returns to the lineup after a season-ending knee injury knocked her out of the starting rotation and to the bench for the majority of the year. She redshirted and the pair will be in the lineup the remainder of their college careers.
Joyner ranked fifth in the nation last year for blocked shots with a Southern Conference record 132, averaging 4.0 per game. She led the team in scoring with more than 12 points and had nearly eight rebounds per game. Shumpert was second on the team in scoring with 11.5 points per game and a team-best 68 3-pointers. Payne was a menace to opposing offenses but was also dangerous with the ball, ranking 19th in the country with a 2.39 assist-turnover ratio.
Foster guided the Mocs to back-to-back undefeated SoCon seasons, the first to ever accomplish that feat, and led Chattanooga to wins over a pair of Top 10 foes in Tennessee (No. 4) and Stanford (No. 7), both at home.
This season, the Mocs will host UConn, the reigning national champions and preseason No. 1, in late November. This marks the 11th time the Huskies have grabbed the top pick in the preseason poll, one behind Tennessee who has earned that honor 12 times.
South Carolina was picked No. 2 in the preseason poll followed by Notre Dame, Tennessee and Baylor to round out the Top Five. Along with the Lady Vols, two more Chattanooga opponents earned a spot in the Top 25 poll. Stanford is ranked 16th in the poll and South Florida is 20th.
In other preseason polls, the Mocs received 41 votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll (32nd) and were picked 22nd in the Athlon Sports Preseason Top 25. ESPNW.com ranked the Mocs 24th headed into the 2015-16 season.
The season tips off on November 13 at home against McNeese State in the Preseason WNIT. Tickets are on sale at the McKenzie Arena box office or online at GoMocs.com.