Apparently, the ODAC coaches think EMU's young basketball women got all the seasoning they needed last year.
This year, Eastern Mennonite was picked as the favorite in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Preseason Poll, edging Lynchburg College by a mere two points. In voting done by the league's coaches, the Royals earned seven first-place votes and totaled 112 points, while LC drew the other five first-place nods and 110 total points.
Coaches were not allowed to rank their own team in the polling of the ODAC's 12 teams.
Lynchburg tied with Guilford at 14-2 in league play last year before losing to the Quakers in the ODAC Championship. LC still advanced into the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. The Royals were 17-8 overall and 12-4 in the ODAC in 2016-17, getting upset by fifth-seeded Randolph-Macon in the ODAC quarterfinals.
Eastern Mennonite has double-digit wins in each of the past eight ODAC seasons, including a winning percentage of .750 or better in five of the past six years. In the minds of the ODAC's coaches, it seems that pedigree is a predictor of success for a team that had just three upperclassmen last year.
Senior guard Myneshia Walker (Freeman, Va./Brunswick) headlines this year's senior class after earning All-ODAC Second Team honors with 14.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 2016-17. She was eighth in the ODAC in scoring and fourth with 52 three pointers.
Fellow guard Chloe Roach (Leesburg, Va./Tuscarora) averaged 16.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.7 steals as a freshman, earning a spot on the All-ODAC Third Team. She was sixth in the league in scoring and top-nine in both assists and steals.
Forward Brianna Zook (Harrisonburg, Va./Broadway) joins Walker as the only seniors on this year's roster, playing about seven per game last year.
Returning 10 of their 12 players, the Royals do have a notable void in their lineup, as they try to replace All-ODAC Third Team center Jonae Guest (Dumfries, Va./Potomac). The 6-2 Guest averaged 11.4 points and 9.0 rebounds in a breakout senior season, and earned a double double in 11 of her final 15 games.
Eastern Mennonite gets a solid test to start the year, hosting Lancaster Bible College on Wednesday, Nov. 15. The Chargers (20-9 in 2016-17) have won the South Division of the North Eastern Athletic Conference each of the past five seasons. EMU's basketball men also host Mary Washington that night in a doubleheader of basketball that starts at 5:30pm.
2017-18 ODAC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL
(#) Denotes First Place Votes
1. Eastern Mennonite University (7) - 112 pts.
2. Lynchburg College (5) - 110 pts.
3. Emory & Henry College - 91 pts.
4. Randolph-Macon College - 89 pts.
t5. Guilford College - 79 pts.
t5. Washington and Lee University - 79 pts.
7. Virginia Wesleyan University - 74 pts.
8. Roanoke College - 46 pts.
9. Randolph College - 39 pts.
10. Bridgewater College - 35 pts.
11. Shenandoah University - 27 pts.
12. Hollins University - 11 pts.