The Denison women's basketball team was tabbed to repeat as league champions in the 2016-17 North Coast Athletic Conference preseason basketball poll, based on balloting from league coaches.
Denison, which won its fourth NCAC women's championship last winter, earned five of the nine first-place votes cast by league coaches for 75 total points, while four-time league champion DePauw collected the final four first-place votes and finished one-point behind the Big Red in second with 74 points. Kenyon, which last won the NCAC title in 2008, checked in at third with 64 points, followed by Oberlin (43), Allegheny (40), Wittenberg (39), Ohio Wesleyan (37), Hiram (22) and Wooster (11).
The Big Red, who captured the 2015-16 NCAC regular season title by posting a 15-1 record against league foes, return three starters and 16 total letterwinners to the fold this year. Leading that group of returning starters is three-time All-NCAC first-team selection and the 2016 NCAC Player of the Year, senior post Jordan Holmes (Pittsburgh, PA/Mt. Lebanon). Holmes enters her senior campaign having re-written the NCAC record book as she already holds the league's top career marks in both rebounds (1,283) and blocked shots (482). Even more impressive, she needs just 18 more blocks to become the first Division III women's basketball player in history to post 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 blocks in a career. Joining Holmes as key returners this year are the senior duo of post Emily Krumpe (Hillard, OH/Darby) and point guard Gabrielle Nottage (Evanston, IL/Evanston Twp.). Krumpe complimented Holmes in the front court last season by averaging 7.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, while Nottage returned from an injury in late December and provided DU with key contributions off the bench throughout their championship run. In addition, the Big Red will also look for key production from senior wing Gaby Mehringer (Chapel Hill, NC/Northwood) who averaged 2.9 points and 1.7 assists per game last year. Head coach Sara Lee returns to the sidelines at Denison this season with a career record of 428-281 in 27 years at the helm in Granville. She has been named NCAC Coach of the Year on four different occasions, including collecting the honor last season.
The 2016-17 season begins on Tuesday, November 15, while the NCAC Tournament will be held at the end of February with the men's and women's semifinals and championships at the site of the respective high seeds on February 24th and 25th.
2016-17 North Coast Athletic Conference Preseason Women's Basketball Coaches' Polls