Missouri picked to finish seventh

Thursday, October 23, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:58 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 12, 2008

Look for the Missouri women’s basketball team to finish in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 Conference this season.

The league’s coaches Wednesday picked the Tigers to finish seventh in the conference.

The Tigers might prove the preseason poll wrong, though. They did that last season.

Missouri tied for fifth in the conference last season after the coaches picked MU to finish eighth. Missouri was 9-7 in the Big 12 and 17-14 overall last season and lost in the quarterfinals of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

With many of the top players in the conference returning, the competition for the top spot in the Big 12 is expected to be fierce. Texas, the defending conference champion, received 10 of the 12 first-place votes and is the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 after advancing to the NCAA Final Four last season.

Kansas State went 14-2 in the conference last season and returns all five of its starters. Led by Nicole Ohlde, the Big 12 preseason player of the year, the Wildcats received the other two first-place votes to earn No. 2 in the poll.

Coming off its 14th straight 20-win season, Texas Tech, coaches expect the Red Raiders to finish third. Oklahoma is fourth in the preseason poll, Colorado is fifth and Baylor sixth.

Evan Unrau, who led Missouri in scoring and rebounding last season, was the only Tigers player to receive votes for the preseason All-Big 12 team. Last year, Unrau became the second Missouri player to earn first team All-Big 12 regular season recognition in the conference’s seven-year history.

Unrau joins seven members of last year’s team, including three returning starters. If Missouri can overcome the graduation of Karensa Barr, its all-time assist leader, it has a good chance of finishing in the top half of the conference.

Angie Carter, Lauren Podratz and Terianne Wolford each left the team this summer after seeing limited playing time last year. The Tigers have four decent recruits, though, including Blair Hardiek, a freshman point guard. Hardiek and sophomore LaToya Bond are competing for Barr’s spot.

Missouri will hold the first of two intrasquad scrimmages at 8 a.m. Saturday at Brewer Fieldhouse. The season begins Nov. 23 in Peoria, Ill., against Bradley.

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