In polls released Tuesday by the conference, media prognosticators and MIAA coaches both predicted the Pittsburg State women’s basketball team to finish No. 4, as part of MIAA Women’s Basketball Virtual Media Day.

In polls released Tuesday by the conference, media prognosticators and MIAA coaches both predicted the Pittsburg State women’s basketball team to finish No. 4, as part of MIAA Women’s Basketball Virtual Media Day.

The Gorillas are coming off a 16-12 season, highlighted by a 13-9 conference record and a semifinal appearance in the conference tournament.

“Well, I think this year, our strengths will be having 13 players returning that have been in our program and 10 of those players played in conference games a year ago,” Pitt State head coach Lane Lord said. “So, we feel like that experience, hopefully it will translate into competitive basketball.”

Pitt State returns starting guards Drew Roberts and Courtney Tate (54 starts between them), as well as Britnee Foster (17 starts), Larissa Richards (four starts), Alexa Bordewick (three starts) and Lauren Brown (two starts).

The Gorillas lost to graduation full-time starters Laura Glenn (9.5 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game) and Kylee Baldetti (8.4 ppg, team-high 7.4 rpg), as well as key contributors Marissa Poppe and Bailey Waugh.

With leading scorer Roberts (11.0 ppg) and fourth-leading scorer Tate (7.8 ppg) back, guard play might seem like an obvious team strength, but Lord mentioned 6-foot-3 senior Richards, 6-4 junior transfer Marlianne Louzeiro (originally from Sao Luis, Brazil — Sao Luis pronounced in Portuguese is Saint Louis) and 6-6 junior Brown as capable inside players.

“I say this every year and this is the fifth year I’ve said this, but Larissa Richards is the key for us to be successful,” Lord said. “We need her to stay healthy and give us solid minutes inside because she’s such a force for us defensively. Everything we do defensively revolves around what Larissa can do so we need her to stay healthy.”

Last season, Richards broke her own school record for shot blocks in a season, increasing her mark from 49 to 58 rejections. Richards missed better parts of two full seasons (2007-08, 2008-09) with knee injuries and played in 25 of 28 games last season. She has a school-record 114 career blocks.

Louzeiro averaged 6.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks during her sophomore year at Casper (Wyo.) College.

St. Mary’s Colgan graduate Lisa Elmer and Pittsburg High School graduate Kristina Willis start their sophomore years.
Pitt State opens its exhibition season on Sunday with Big 10 and former Big 8 and Big 12 member Nebraska, followed by Kansas (Nov. 6) and Wichita State (Nov. 9). The Cornhuskers have a young team featuring six freshmen and went 13-18 overall last season.

2011-12 MIAA Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll
No.    Team (1st Place Votes) Points
1.    Washburn (10)                 100
2.    Emporia State (1)            87
3.    Central Missouri              83
4.    Pittsburg State                69
T5.    Missouri Southern         56
T5.    Northwest Missouri        56
7.    Truman                            47
8.    Missouri Western            42
9.    Fort Hays State               35
10.    Southwest Baptist          20
11.    Lincoln                           10

MIAA Women’s Basketball Preseason Media Poll
1.    Washburn (12)               171
2.    Emporia State (3)          154
3.    Northwest Missouri (1)  139
4.    Pittsburg State               116
5.    Central Missouri             110
6.    Missouri Southern          105
7.    Missouri Western            81
8.    Fort Hays State              73
9.    Truman                           52
10.    Southwest Baptist        38
11.    Lincoln                         17