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  1. #1
    All Lobo Lair String Music's Avatar
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    The Lobolair Members' 2018 Preseason Prognostications

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    What does everyone think?

    I've got five contenders with no one looking like a dominant choice over the others, two dark horses, and four more hoping to surprise people. Like most preseason polls, mine isn't very different from the way the teams finished last year. There's usually one surprise team each year. Last year it was Wyoming. Hopefully, this year it will be the Lobos.

    FIVE TOP CONTENDERS:

    1. Colorado State - The 4-time defending champs are without 4-year starters Ellen Nystrom and Elin Gustavsson this year. But the cupboard is not bare. Guards Hannah Tvrdy, Stine Austgulen, Sofie Tryggedsson, Callie Kaiser, and Myan Hamm provide a group of experienced perimeter players. And the Rams add a couple of taller wings in 6-6 freshman, Lena Svanholm, from the Danish national team and 6-0 Lore Devos from Belgium. A 5th straight championship will depend on how well the relatively inexperienced posts Veronika Mirkovic, 6-5 Anna Dreimane, and redshirt freshman Liah Davis can fill Gustavsson's shoes.

    2. Wyoming - The cowgirls finished a surprising 2nd last year. They won't surprise anyone this year as they return all-MWC player Liv Roberts, MWC 6th-man Marta Gomez, Natalie Baker, Bailee Cotton, and point guard Clara Tapia. Their bench is also deep with senior Marleah Campbell and sophomores Taylor Rusk and Selale Kepenc. They can shoot it better than anyone in the league. If they have a weakness, it is in the post. The other question is whether Roberts will be able to play at the same level she did before her ACL injury.

    3. Boise St - Boise State lost two four-year starters in Brooke Pahukoa and Yaiza Rodriguez. But there's plenty of talent remaining from the tournament champs. The front line of Marijke Vanderschaaf, Shalen Shaw, and Joyce Harrell returns along with Arizona transfer A'shanti Coleman, a Top 100 player. Marta Hermida, Riley Lupfer, and Portland transfer Ellie Woerner provide plenty of scoring power at the wings. The big question is "Who will run the show?" The top candidate is sophomore Braydey Hodgins unless the Broncos try to move one of their talented combo guards to point.

    4. New Mexico - The Lobos are going from the tallest team in the conference to one of the shortest. They return all-conference speedster Cherise Beynon, all-freshman guard Mykiel Burleson, and their top shooter, Alex Lapeyrolerie. With the addition of Green Bay transfer Tesha Buck and a slew of freshmen, the Lobos have no lack of guards. The question is "Who will take the place of all-conference post, Richelle van der Keijl?" The top candidates are Jaisa Nunn and Purdue transfer Erica Moore, both of whom are returning from major injury. If the posts stay healthy and the seniors and freshmen gel, this team could be a tough out by tournament time.

    5. UNLV - The Rebels' prospects for a championship season took a big hit when Dakota and Dylan Gonzalez decided to not return for their 5th year. But the Rebels still have four starters returning with point guard Nikki Wheatley coming back from knee injury. Her return moves Brooke Johnson back to her natural position at shooting guard. Paris Strawther and 6-4 Katie Powell return in the post. Jordyn Bell and Alyssa Anderson add some experience, but a lack of overall depth makes the Rebels look like a paper tiger. Still, a favorable schedule could keep them from falling out of the all-important top five seeds.

    TWO DARK HORSES:

    6. Fresno St - The Bulldogs return sharp-shooting Candice White and guards Breanne Knishka (from injury), Tory Jacobs, and Kristina Cavey. But the graduation of Emilie Volk and unexpected transfer of two-time Defensive Player of the Year Bego Faz Davalos (to Duke) has left the front line vacant. At 6-4, sophomore Katelin Noyer from the New Zealand National Team should be able to capably fill in the center position. And if Australians Bree Delaney and Genna Ogier are ready to contribute right away, road wins in Fresno could be difficult to come by.

    7. Utah St - Most of their team returns including top three scorers Rachel Brewster, Freshman of the year Eliza West, and Shannon Dufficy. Also, their 6-4 center, Deja Mason, is back to give them an inside presence. There's no reason to believe the aggies will be worse than last year. But with the same cast of players, will they be significantly better?

    FOUR HOPING TO SURPRISE:

    8. San Diego St - The nucleus of the team will be built around guards McKynzie Fort and Lexy Thorderson. The other returning players will have to compete with a highly-regarded incoming class to maintain their playing time. After four sub-par years, coach Stacie Terry is on the hot seat if the Aztecs don't show some significant progress.

    9. Nevada - Long-time coach, Jane Albright, has retired and former WNBA signee, Amanda Levens, takes over a program that returns everyone except top player, Stephanie Schmid. Even though the wolfpack finished 10th last year, their minus 3.9 average scoring margin in conference shows they aren't far behind the middle of the pack. But there is little reason to believe they will finish much higher than 9th place until the new coaching staff brings in more talented players.

    10. San Jose St - The Spartans lost four starters including conference-leading scorer Dezz Ramos. The others are Rachol West and posts Jasmine Smith and Paris Baird. MyMy Ladd is the lone returning starter. But since San Jose employed a long bench in their up-tempo game, they have some experienced players with which to rebuild. Still, with eight freshmen, the Spartans could be trending down this year.

    11. Air Force - Air Force played a lot of freshmen last year and were more competitive with the rest of the league. They should continue that trend this year, but are still just fighting to get out of the cellar. Seniors Dee Bennett and Cortney Porter provide leadership but they will miss Mariah Forde's shooting eye.

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  3. #2
    Lobo Lair King nmsutoo's Avatar
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    I don't think Colo St will make it 5 in a row this year. To be truthful I didn't think they would last year with the players that graduated. They were beatable last year Boise, UNlV and UtSt and we came close after losing 2 of our best players. I don't think they have the point guard play that they've had the last 4 years.

    Liv Roberts was a late season injury but she should be ready by conference play if not sooner. I think the injury recoveries of NM and Wyo players will play a major roll in who takes the conference title. Some times it takes more than a year for some players to regain their confidence as well as getting physically back to where they where. Some never get all the way back after a bad injury. Might mention Nevada in that too. Mo, their point guard, was back last year but not the same Mo, I think she was out 2 years in a row from injuries.

    Utah St is getting all their starters back. They beat Colo St, Boise and UNLV last year. This is the first year they didn't lose a bunch of players since Finkbiener became coach. They are a young team, no seniors and just 3 juniors. If they can play consistently they could be the dark horse.

    We have to get a lot of new players to mesh before conference play but if we do and our wounded heal watch out MWC. I'm afraid Marquette might put a woopin' on us in that early game. Last year Rachelle and Jaisa threw their game off. Should be a fun year.

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  5. #3
    All Lobo Lair String Music's Avatar
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    I agree that I might have Utah State too low. They do have everyone back, but they have no new players of consequence. I felt like they overachieved last year and didn't look very good in the post-season. They are counting on marked improvement from the same players.

    Fresno State is a tough one to figure out. So much depends on how good the two new Aussies are. Bree Delaney comes with some impressive stats, but I'm not sure what level of competition she was playing. I thought their sophomore center who backed up Faz Davalos last year looked pretty good against us. And I respect Coach White. They will defend you.

    It would not surprise me at all if UNLV dropped below those two teams, especially if they have a key injury. But I gave them the benefit of the doubt because they only have to play CSU and Wyoming once.

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    Wise Wolf Walkon's Avatar
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    I feel UNM will move up into the top three this season and will be even better the following season due to better players, better depth and faster play.

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    TLL.com Womens Moderator Lobo2x53's Avatar
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    It would not surprise me to see us in the top 3 this year.

    I also suspect we may be better next season because of more experience in the system.

    But I will have to be convinced over more than a few games that the tallent we gain in next season's freshmen will be better than what we lose in our four seniors. I expect Alex, Laneah, Tesha, and Cherise will be some very big shoes to replace. We could be talking about 3 starters and a key reserve, including a couple potential all conference quality players. "Better"? We will see.

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    It would not surprise me to see us in the top 3 this year.

    I also suspect we may be better next season because of more experience in the system.

    But I will have to be convinced over more than a few games that the tallent we gain in next season's freshmen will be better than what we lose in our four seniors. I expect Alex, Laneah, Tesha, and Cherise will be some very big shoes to replace. We could be talking about 3 starters and a key reserve, including a couple potential all conference quality players. "Better"? We will see.

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  13. #7
    All Lobo Lair String Music's Avatar
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    It would not surprise me to see us in the top 3. I think I would be more surprised if someone other than CSU, Wyoming, Boise State, and UNM finished in the Top 3. But that is why preseason speculation is just that - speculation.

    You can't predict who will be the Freshman of the Year or which sophomore will come out of nowhere like Candice White (Fresno) did last year.

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