BASKETBALL: MAC preseason polls released; three Cards named Preseason All-MAC West

Women's team predicted second, men's team fourth in MAC Preseason polls

Although both Ball State University basketball programs could claim championship seasons last year, any repeats for this season will be considered by many as under the radar.

The Mid-American Conference released its preseason polls Wednesday, and the reigning MAC Tournament champion Ball State women's basketball team was predicted to finish second in the MAC West Division behind the University of Toledo. The Cardinals' men's team — co-MAC West champs last season — was predicted to finish in fourth place in the West this season.

Men's coach Billy Taylor said he doesn't "put a lot of merit into the preseason polls."

"We really don't put much stock into the preseason predictions," Taylor said. "But it does say that we need to continue to go out and play good basketball and earn the respect of our peers and our opponents throughout the MAC."

Multiple attempts to reach women's basketball coach Kelly Packard on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Last season, the women's basketball team, led by Packard, had its most successful season in program history. The Cardinals won a school-record 26 games, its first-ever MAC Tournament championship and advanced to its first-ever NCAA Tournament.

The program then claimed the national stage by defeating women's basketball powerhouse University of Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Iowa State University in the second round.

The women's team lost three seniors from last year's team in senior guards Dana Moorman, Porchia Green and Kiley Jarrett. Green and Jarrett combined to average 22.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game last season in MAC play and leave this year's squad with plenty to replace in the backcourt.

On the men's side, the Cardinals' 7-9 MAC record was good enough to share the MAC West crown with Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University.

Like the women's team, the men's team will also look to replace an experienced backcourt. Last season's senior guards — Brandon Lampley, Laron Frazier and Rob Giles — combined to average 27.9 of the team's 57.9 points-per-game average in 2008-09, including 103 of the team's 134 made 3-pointers.

Gratton, Maggert and Jones net preseason honors

Three Ball State basketball players on Wednesday also found out they were predicted by conference media to be among the best in their leagues this season.

The women's team's Danielle Gratton and Emily Maggert and the men's team's Jarrod Jones were named to the All-MAC West Preseason team.

Jones, the 2008-09 MAC Freshman of the Year, returns this season as the anchor of a frontcourt that also includes junior forward Malik Perry and senior forward Terrence Watson. A sophomore center, Jones averaged a team-best 11.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game last season.

"It's really a great honor for Jarrod coming off of MAC rookie of the year again to be recognized on the Preseason All-MAC team," Taylor said. "That's something that I think we would anticipate and expect, and now it's up to Jarrod to continue to go out and produce every night on the floor in and out of MAC play."

Jones said he used the offseason to gain some much-needed size to help compete with the bulkier centers on the Cardinals' schedule.

"I worked a lot on my skills — some shooting, some passing," Jones said. "But I really focused a lot on my body. Last year, I had to go against a lot of guys who had a lot more size than me, so I wanted to be ready for this year to get my body a lot bigger and a lot stronger."

Maggert, a junior forward, added the 2009-10 Preseason honor to a growing list of accolades.

Last season, she was named to the All-MAC Tournament Team and was Third Team All-MAC as she averaged 13.4 points, 6 rebounds and shot 83.1 percent from the free throw line. She was also named the MAC Sixth Player of the Year in her freshman campaign.

Gratton, a senior forward, also returns after also garnering Third Team All-MAC accolades last season. She started all 35 games and averaged 11.4 points, 7 rebounds and shot 89.4 percent from the free throw line.

The women's team officially kicks off its season with an exhibition game against the Hoosier Lady Stars at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at Worthen Arena before opening up the regular season on the road at the University of Michigan on Nov. 13.

The men's team begins its regular season at home for a 7 p.m. tipoff against Valparaiso University on Nov. 13.

Men's Basketball

All-MAC West Division Preseason Team
Jarrod Jones, C, Ball State
David Kool, G, Western Michigan
Brandon Bowdry, F, Eastern Michigan
Darion "Jake" Anderson, G, Northern Illinois
Carlos Medlock, G, Eastern Michigan

All-MAC East Division Preseason Team
Kenny Hayes, G, Miami
Brett McKnight, F, Akron
Rodney Pierce, G, Buffalo
Chris Singletary, G, Kent State
Anthony "Humpty" Hitches, G, Akron

MAC West Division Preseason Media Poll
1. Central Michigan - 113 points (10)
2. Northern Illinois - 102 points (4)
3. Eastern Michigan - 94 points (3)
4. Ball State - 87 points (3)
5. Western Michigan - 79 points (4)
6. Toledo - 29 points

MAC East Division Preseason Media Poll
1. Akron - 190 points (19)
2. Kent State - 108 points (3)
3. Buffalo - 97 points (1)
4. Miami -- 78 points
5. Bowling Green - 54 points (1)
6. Ohio - 32 points

(1st place votes in parentheses)

Tournament Winner:
 Akron (19), Buffalo (2), Northern Illinois (1), Kent State (1), Bowling Green (1)

Women's Basketball

All-MAC West Division Preseason Team
Danielle Gratton, F, Ball State
Emily Maggert, F, Ball State

Britni Houghton, G/F, Central Michigan
Tanika Mays, F, Toledo
Naama Shafir, G, Toledo

All-MAC East Division Preseason Team
Kara Murphy, F, Akron
Lauren Prochaska, G, Bowling Green
Tracy Pontius, G, Bowling Green
Kourtney Brown, F, Buffalo
Jennifer Bushby, G, Ohio

MAC West Division Preseason Media Poll
1. Toledo (18)
2. Ball State (14)
3. Northern Illinois (4)
4. Central Michigan
5. Eastern Michigan
6. Western Michigan

MAC East Division Preseason Media Poll
1. Bowling Green (22)
2. Kent State (12)
3. Miami (2)
4. Akron
5. Ohio
6. Buffalo

(1st place votes in parentheses)

Tournament Winner: Bowling Green (16)


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