University of Wisconsin-Whitewater has been tabbed to win the 2018 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) women’s basketball championship, based on a preseason poll conducted by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.
A year ago, the Warhawks won their first-ever WIAC tournament title and made their ninth NCAA appearance in the last 10 years. UW-Whitewater welcomes back all five starters from that unit, including senior guards Brooke Trewyn and Malia Smith. Trewyn topped the conference with 15.2 points per game, while ranking third with 68 assists and 49 steals, and fourth with 7.0 rebounds per contest. Smith led the league with 76 steals and placed second with a .815 free-throw percentage (97-of-119).
UW-Whitewater, ranked No. 20 in a preseason poll conducted by D3hoops.com, has produced 20-plus wins in nine of the last 10 seasons. Head coach Keri Carollo is 11 victories away from 300 in her career. Only two coaches in WIAC history have reached the 300-win mark – UW-Stevens Point head coach Shirley Egner and UW-Stout head coach Mark Thomas. UW-Eau Claire head coach Tonja Englund is also within reach of the 300-victory club – needing just three wins to reach the milestone.
UW-Whitewater is followed in the conference predictions by: UW-Oshkosh; UW-Stevens Point; UW-Eau Claire; UW-La Crosse; UW-River Falls; UW-Stout; and UW-Platteville.
UW-Oshkosh, ranked No. 11 by D3hoops.com and No. 12 by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, collected the 12th regular-season league championship a season ago and made its fourth straight NCAA appearance. The Titans bring back a pair of starters, including senior forward Eliza Campbell, who was second on the team with 10.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. She also contributed 42 assists and 22 steals. UW-Oshkosh has won 20-plus games five consecutive seasons – the longest active streak in the conference.
UW-Stevens Point senior post player Taylor Barrett had a team-best 46 blocked shots and 63 free throws made a season ago. She also contributed 8.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per contest. The Pointers have recorded 17-plus victories in 15 of the last 16 seasons.
UW-Eau Claire has 12 letterwinners back, including sophomore forward Anna Graaskamp, who led the conference with a .833 free-throw percentage (50-of-60), while ranking third with 14.4 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per contest. She converted 48.6 percent (139-of-286) of her field goal attempts – the fourth-best mark in the league.
UW-La Crosse’s 16 wins a season ago were the most for the program since the 2011-12 campaign. The Eagles also reached the semifinals of the WIAC championship for the first time since 2011. Senior guard Elise DeNoyer finished second in the league with 7.8 rebounds per game and 902 minutes played, while ranking third with 68 assists. She posted eight double-doubles (points-rebounds) and contributed 12.1 points per contest.
UW-River Falls brings back senior forward Taylor Karge and senior guard Brynn Liljander. A year ago, Karge led the Falcons with 12.5 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per contest and 44 blocked shots, while ranking second with 51 assists. Liljander missed a majority of the 2016-17 campaign due to injury after placing second in the WIAC with 55 three-point field goals made and 940 minutes played in 2015-16. The Falcons will play their home games in the sparkling new 2,149-seat Don Page Arena.
UW-Stout has four starters back, including junior guard Kyncaide Diedrich, who distributed a conference-best 95 assists a season ago and tied for team-high scoring honors at 13.4 points per game. She was also second on squad with 6.2 rebounds per contest.
*You can hear UW-Stout Blue Devils games on 880 WMEQ in Menomonie and on iHeartRadio at wmeq.com/listen
UW-Platteville’s rotation includes junior center Allison Prestegaard, who established a program record with 96 blocked shots a season ago. Her total ranks fifth on the conference’s single-season list. She also led the team with 6.2 rebounds per contest, while ranking second with 9.3 points per game. Junior guard Morgan Horstman was first on the squad with 12.9 points per game.
2017-18 Preseason Predictions--Voted on by WIAC Head Coaches and Sports Information Directors
1. UW-Whitewater 22-6 overall, 10-4 WIAC
2. UW-Oshkosh 26-4, 13-1
3. UW-Stevens Point 17-9, 9-5
4. UW-Eau Claire 13-13, 7-7
5. UW-La Crosse 16-11, 9-5
6. UW-River Falls 9-18, 3-11
7. UW-Stout 7-18, 3-11
8. UW-Platteville 6-19, 2-12
Via WIAC Press Release