by Ed Beach
The Drury Lady Panthers will start the 2019-20 season ranked number one in NCAA-II women’s basketball. The WBCA released their preseason coaches’ poll on Thursday, and Drury received eight first-place votes and 550 points to claim the top spot in the rankings.
Lubbock Christian, last year’s national champion, received 14 first-place votes but finished second in the poll with 538 points. Grand Valley State is ranked third, Azuza Pacific is fourth while Virginia Union is fifth.
Drury’s opponent for their second game of the season, West Texas A&M is ranked 12th. The Lady Panthers face the Lady Buffs on Saturday in their second game of the CCA Division II Tipoff Classic in Anaheim, California. Drury will also see 11th ranked Central Missouri on the schedule this year. The Lady Panthers host UCM, a team that received a first-place vote in the preseason poll and won the national title two years ago, on Nov. 29 at the O’Reilly Family Event Center.
Drury is on the only team from the Great Lakes Valley Conference ranked in the preseason top 25. Lewis received votes in the poll but was outside the national rankings.
The Lady Panthers return all five starters, 11 letter winners, and have added four newcomers to a team that finished 35-1 and advanced to the NCAA-II national semifinals last year.
Drury opens the regular season on Friday when they take on Simon Fraser at 10:30 am (Central) in the CCA Division II Tipoff Classic in Anaheim, California.