The DePauw women's basketball team has been tabbed as the favorites for the 2017-18 North Coast Athletic Conference basketball season, based on balloting from the league coaches.
DePauw, which won its fifth NCAC women's championship last winter, earned eight of the nine first-place votes cast by league coaches for 76 total points. Kenyon, which last won the league title in 2008, finished second in the poll with 64 points, while Oberlin earned the final first-place vote and finished one-point behind Kenyon in third with 63 total points. Denison finished fourth overall with 48 points, followed by Wittenberg (43), Ohio Wesleyan (40), Hiram (36), Allegheny (18) and Wooster (17).
The Tigers, who won both the 2016-17 NCAC regular season and tournament titles, welcome back eight letterwinners and three starters from last year's team that finished the season with an overall record of 27-3 and competed in the NCAA Tournament for the 14th year in a row and the 18th time overall. Junior guard Maya Howard (St. Louis, MO/MICDS), a first-team All-NCAC selection last winter, is the top returning scorer from last season as she averaged 12.1 points per game, which included a season-best 23-point performance in a 60-46 win over Denison on February 8th. Senior forward Melinda Franke (Warrenville, IL/Wheaton Warrenville South) and sophomore guard Sydney Kopp (Burr Ridge, IL/Hinsdale South) also return to the starting five for the Tigers this season. Franke ranked fourth in the NCAC last season in rebounds with 188 (6.3 rpg), while Kopp owned the league's second-best shooting percentage from beyond the arc at .355 after knocking down 30-of-39 attempts from long distance. Despite coming off the bench in all but two games, senior guard Emily Budde (Cincinnati, OH/Mother of Mercy) is DPU's second leading returning scorer from last season at 9.1 points per game. Budde has peaked at the right time in each of the last two seasons as she has won back-to-back Nan Nichols Awards as the MVP of the NCAC Tournament. Head coach Kris Huffman returns for her 25th season at DePauw with an outstanding overall record of 571-117 (.830), which included leading the Tigers to a pair of NCAA Div. III titles in 2007 and again in 2013.
The 2017-18 season begins on Wednesday, 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 23rd and 24th.
2017-18 North Coast Athletic Conference Preseason Women's Basketball Coaches' Polls