Women's Basketball: Lady Pilots hold steady in top 25 poll
December 11, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) released the second installment of the NAIA Women's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 poll on Tuesday that had the LSU Shreveport Lady Pilots holding steady as the no. 17 team in the country.
The Lady Pilots are off to their best start in school history matching the 8-1 record they began the season during the 2008 -2009 season when they finished 27-6, their best record ever. LSUS is finally receiving the National Recognition in deserves despite being in a conference that has been watered down in the recent years in terms of the NAIA Women's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Poll. LSUS Head Coach Ronnie Howell says that a combination of last year and this year has helped the Red River Athletic Conference gain some recognition, "I think that with three teams from our conference getting to the national tournament last year combined with our conference teams getting off to a good start early has helped."
LSUS has defended their way to a spot in the Top 25 poll ranking themselves in the top 10 in the NAIA in eight defensive categories including second in the nation allowing their opponent to only convert 21-percent from beyond the arc. When the teams miss you can bet there is a Lady Pilots cleaning the glass as they rank third in the NAIA in Total Rebounding Margin collecting 14.4 more rebounds per game than their opponents.
The Lady Pilots received some devastating news last week learning that they will be without Junior, Victoria Smith, who leads the team with 8.9 rebounds per game, for the next six weeks due to an injury, "Losing Victoria Smith for 6 weeks will hurt us because she was playing really well and gives us a great chance to compete under the basket," Howell said.
Junior Jenna Diakos has pulled down 8.4 rebounds per game and will be a key factor on how the team fares in the absence of Smith. While the defense has been stout for the Lady Pilots they have still managed to average three different shooters in double figures with Sharde Henry leading the team with 16.4 points per game while three-point shooter Christy Willis averages 14.3 a game and Diakos has tossed in 14 points per game.
The upcoming week for the Lady Pilots will put their one-loss record to the test with a road game that appears to favor them against the SAGU Lady Lions on Thursday in Waxahachie however there are no easy road games in the RRAC. "SAGU lost a really good player to injury so they are trying to find a rhythm but they will be tough at home like always," says Howell.
The Saturday matchup at The Dock at 2 p.m. promises to be one for the ages as they take on Wiley College, currently supporting a 10-1 overall record with their only loss an 8-point one to Northwestern State University. Wiley has a stiff defense as well with five defensive categories in the NAIA's top 10 and highlight it with the nation's 9th scoring offense averaging 79.2 points per game. Coach Howell is confident of his team but knows what kind of team Wiley will bring to The Dock on Saturday, "Wiley is really talented and they have shown that they have the players to compete with anybody so we will have to play really well on Saturday." The Lady Wildcats received votes for the second straight week in the top 25 poll.
While the Lady Pilots are ahead record wise of where they were a year ago Coach Howell says that this team can get there (National Tournament), "We have a lot of returning players but I think we had a little more depth last year at this time. If we can get some people to step up off the bench we should be in the thick of things in the end."
To view the complete list of this week's top 25 click here. The next poll will be released on January 8, 2013.