In their return to Conference USA, the Charlotte 49ers women’s basketball team has been picked to finish 4th among the league’s 16 teams. The league made the announcement today in conjunction with their annual media day events, being held in Dallas over the next few days.
The Niners received 196 points, 16 points behind Tulane, as well as one first-place vote. Fellow newcomer Middle Tennessee (244 points, eight first place votes) was picked to win the conference, followed by UTEP with 231 points and six first-place votes. Tulane, Charlotte and another newcomer, FIU, rounded out the top five.
Along with the coaches poll, the all-conference team was picked, and unsurprisingly FIU’s Jerica Coley was named the league’s top player. The nation’s leading scorer in 2012 averaged 26.3 points a game to go along with 6.7 rebounds per game as the Panthers wrapped up their final season in the Sun Belt. It remains to be seen how she’ll do competing against new opponents, but one thing’s for sure: she’ll be a tough player to game plan against all year long.
Of course, the Niners will be looking to fill the void left by Jenn Hailey and Amanda Dowe. The leading returning scorer is senior Ny Hammonds (10 ppg), but Charlotte welcomes a talented freshman class that should help them compete for a conference title and pick up that elusive NCAA tournament bid after being snubbed last season.
We’ll try to catch up with coach Cara Consuegra later in the week once she returns from Dallas.