The Creighton women’s basketball team has been selected to finish fourth in the preseason Missouri Valley Conference poll released Tuesday as part of MVC Basketball Media Day. Voting done by the league’s head coaches, media and sports information directors also landed sophomore guard Carli Tritz on the preseason all-conference team after her 2010-11 MVC Freshman of the Year campaign.
Missouri State picked up 36 of the 40 first-place votes to total 396 total points and land as preseason favorites for the second straight season. Defending regular-season champions Northern Iowa collected the other four first-place votes and totalled 322 points as the predicted second-place finisher. Wichita State came in right behind UNI with 315 points for a third place slot.
The middle of the MVC preseason poll features Creighton (246), Indiana State (234) and Illinois State (224) separated by only 22 points. Drake (168) and Bradley (162) were nearly even in being picked seventh and eighth, respectively. Evansville (68) and Southern Illinois (65) were also close in rounding out the poll.
Joining Tritz on the MVC preseason team are Haleigh Lankster (Wichita State), Shannon Thomas (Indiana State), Christiana Shorter (Missouri State) and Preseason Player of the Year and 2010 MVC Player of the Year Casey Garrison (Missouri State).
Tritz was the 2011 MVC Freshman of the Year and earned all-MVC honorable mention honors last year after leading the team in assists (98) and steals (67). She set an MVC record by earning MVC Newcomer of the Week honors nine times (in 17 weeks) during the 2010-11 season. Just a sophomore, she returns as Creighton’s active career leader in points, assists, steals, free throws made and free-throw attempts.
In addition to Tritz, the Bluejays return three players with starting experience. Creighton’s only senior is forward, DaNae Moore. Moore started 15 of 31 games last year and has started 34 contests in her 96 career appearances. Junior guard Ally Jensen started 19 of 31 games last year and with 79 career three-pointers she’s on pace to become the 16th player in school history to reach 100 career threes. Sophomore forward Sarah Nelson joined Tritz on the MVC All-Freshman Team last year, after she started nine games and led the team in blocked shots as a rookie.
The Bluejays finished 18-13 last year, including a 12-6 second-place finish in the MVC. Creighton has won more league games since Jim Flanery took over in 2002-03 than any other league program. The Bluejays are 105-57 in MVC play in the last nine years, while no other MVC team has reached 100 league wins in that span. Creighton advanced to the postseason WNIT for the fourth consecutive season in 2010-11 and have played in the postseason in eight of the last 10 years.
The Bluejays play their lone exhibition game a week from tomorrow at D.J. Sokol Arena, hosting Rockhurst at 7:05 pm on Nov. 2. Creighton opens the season with road games at North Dakota (Nov. 11) and North Dakota State (Nov. 13).