Oct. 7, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - With the official start of the Tulane University women's basketball season just over a month away, the Green Wave got some good news as the squad was picked to finish third in the 2013-14 Conference USA Preseason Coaches Poll released Monday.
In addition, the conference head coaches selected junior Danielle Blagg as one of eight student-athletes to earn a spot on the Conference USA Preseason Team. The honor comes after the native of San Antonio, Texas, was named C-USA Freshman of the Year in 2011-12 and earned second-team all-conference recognition last season.
"I'm very excited about the competitiveness of the new league," Tulane head coach Lisa Stockton said. "With 16 teams, it's anyone's championship. I think any of the teams can come up and put together a great conference season, and that makes it even more exciting with all the parity."
Blagg claimed the preseason distinction after leading the team with 64 3-pointers and a .350 3-point field goal percentage last season. She also finished second with 314 points and 111 field goals made, third with 125 rebounds, tied for third with 17 blocked shots, and fifth with 30 assists and 26 steals. Blagg posted 15 double-figure scoring games, including a career-high 26 after draining eight 3-pointers and a pair of free throws at Marshall last Jan. 13, and had five or more rebounds on six occasions.
Through two collegiate seasons so far, she already ranks 10th in Tulane career history with 118 3-point baskets, 11th with a .323 3-point field goal percentage and 19th with 34 blocked shots.
"Danielle certainly has been a marquee player in our program," Stockton said. "She worked really hard this summer to improve her game and I think she's going to prove to be one of the better players in the league. It's nice that she was recognized for that."
While the Wave will have to replace graduated seniors Olivia Grayson, Janique Kautsky, Brittany McDonald and Tyria Snow, and Tulane won't have a scholarship senior on the roster until the 2014-15 campaign, the team is not without experience. The five rising juniors -Blagg, Tiffany Dale, Adesuwa Ebomwonyi, Jamie Kaplan and Katye Magee - accounted for 49 percent of the team's blocks, 47 percent of the rebounds, 41 percent of both the points and assists, and 36 percent of the steals from a year ago.
In addition, Tulane welcomes back rising sophomores Chinwe Duru and Tierra Jones and returns the services of center Morgan Rogers, who redshirted as a true freshman last season, and senior walk-on Brooke Blankenship, who was not on the team in 2012-13. Tulane also added three highly-touted freshmen in Paije Hall, Courtnie Latham and Leslie Vorpahl.
League newcomer Middle Tennessee, the Sun Belt Conference champions last season, was picked to finish first in the Blue Raiders' inaugural year as a C-USA institution and received eight of the 16 first-place votes. UTEP - which earned six first-place votes - was second in the preseason poll, followed by Tulane, Charlotte and FIU.
Blagg is joined on the C-USA Preseason Team by Jerica Coley of FIU, Jessica Kuster of Rice, Ebony Rowe of Middle Tennessee, Shae Kelley of Old Dominion, Jamierra Faulkner of Southern Miss, Karisma Chapman of UAB and Kayla Thornton of UTEP. Coley, who led the nation in scoring last year with 26.3 points per game, was named C-USA Preseason Player of the Year.
The Green Wave open the season on Friday, Nov. 8, when they play host to the University of New Orleans at 6 p.m. in Devlin Fieldhouse. That contest is the first half of a Tulane double-header as the men's team will square off against New Jersey Institute of Technology at approximately 8 p.m.
Season tickets to the 2013-14 Tulane women's basketball home slate are $100 for floor seats, $85 for side-court seating and $50 for seats along the baseline. For additional information, fans can stop by the Ticket Office - which is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson Jr. Center, call in at (504) 861-WAVE (9283) or check out the official website at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.
2013-14 CONFERENCE USA PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Middle Tennessee (8) 244 2. UTEP (6) 231 3. Tulane 212 4. Charlotte (1) 196 5. FIU 190 6. Old Dominion 170 7. East Carolina 155 8. UAB 129 9. Tulsa 116 10. Rice 114 11. Louisiana Tech 98 12. North Texas (1) 92 13. Southern Miss 78 14. UTSA 58 FAU 58 16. Marshall 35 (#) denotes first-place votes
2013-14 CONFERENCE USA PRESEASON TEAM
Name School Pos Ht Cl Hometown/Previous School Jerica Coley FIU G 5-7 Sr. St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg HS Jessica Kuster Rice F 6-2 Sr. San Antonio, Texas/Reagan HS Ebony Rowe Middle Tennessee F 6-1 Sr. Lexington, Ky./Dunbar HS Shae Kelley Old Dominion F 6-1 Jr. Denver, Colo./Northwest Florida JC Jamierra Faulkner Southern Miss G 5-6 Sr. West Palm Beach, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy Danielle Blagg Tulane G 5-11 Jr. San Antonio, Texas/Smithson Valley HS Karisma Chapman UAB F 5-11 Sr. Calumet City, Ill./T.F. North HS Kayla Thornton UTEP F 6-1 Sr. El Paso, Texas/Irvin HS