MOLINE, Ill–Last season, Beth Cunningham won 20 games in her first season as the Missouri State Lady Bears coach.
Only one other coach has done that.
Tuesday, the Missouri Valley picked her Lady Bears to finish fifth in the preseason poll.
Northern Iowa was the preseason favorite with the Panthers Grace Boffeli named the preseason player of the year.
Two Lady Bears earned preseason honors.
Jade Masogayo, last year’s freshman of the year, was put on the second team All Valley.
Joining her there is forward Kennedy Taylor.
Cunningham says that experience will be key.
“Six returners, four who were very impactful for us last year. I think it’s a really good group. When you look production-wise what we’re bringing back this year versus last year, it’s vastly different. At the end of the day I think we grew a ton last year. We really finished the season with a lot of good things. I think there’s a lot to build on with that group. I hope we have the same growth, similar growth that we had last year,” said Cunningham.
Lets take a look at your Valley womens basketball preseason poll.
Northern Iowa picked up 33 first place votes and is number one.
The Panthers have not won a regular season conference race since 2016.
Drake got 12 first place votes and is second, then comes Illinois State, Belmont and the Missouri State Lady Bears.
Illinois Chicago is sixth followed by Murray State, Southern Illinois and Indiana State.
Valparaiso is tenth, then comes Evansville and Bradley is 12th.