Samford Men's Basketball Picked to Finish First in TAAC Poll; Samford Women's Team Picked Fifth
Posted by Matt Sullivan on 1999-10-27
JACKSONVILLE, FLA. - Samford University's men's basketball team, fresh off its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, was the overwhelming choice to repeat as it was picked first in the 1999-2000 TAAC Preseason Poll as voted on by the league's head coaches and sports information directors.
The poll was released at the league's annual media day held Wednesday at the Radisson Riverwalk Hotel.
Samford received 17 out of a possible 20 first-place votes for 213 points, easily outdistancing second-place Georgia State, which received 178 points and one first-place vote. Central Florida was picked to finish third with 166 points and two first place votes. Jacksonville University (128) was fourth and Stetson (118) fifth. Troy State (99), Mercer (70), Jacksonville State (65), Campbell (62) and Florida Atlantic (21) rounded out the standings.
"This is the best the league has been from top to bottom since I've been here," Samford head coach Jimmy Tillette said. "We're obviously going to be circled on everyone's calendar especially since every team has improved from last season."
Samford's Reed Rawlings, the 1999 TAAC Player-of-the-Year, was selected as the 1999-2000 Preseason Player-of-the-Year. The 6-foot-7 senior was joined by teammate Will Daniel, a second-team All-TAAC selection last season. Rounding out the Preseason All-Conference team were Kevin Morris of GSU, Calvin Slaughter of Jacksonville (Fla.) and D'Quarius Stewart of UCF.
In the women's poll, Samford was picked to finish fifth after finishing 8-19 in its second year. The Bulldogs received 131 points to finish behind preseason favorite Campbell, which had 183 points and seven first-place votes.
Jacksonville State was picked to finish second in the preseason poll receiving nine first-place votes and 180 points. The Lady Gamecocks were selected to win the TAAC Tournament that will be held March 8-11 at the Pelham Civic Complex. Defending champion UCF (142) was picked third, Georgia State (138) fourth and Samford. Troy State (102), Stetson (84), Mercer (55), Florida Atlantic (48) and first-year program Jacksonville University (37) rounded out the bottom five.
"Our goal when we started the program two years ago was to be one of the top teams in four or five years." Samford head coach Janet Cone said. "To be ranked fifth in our third year is probably where we should be."
Samford returns all five starters off of last year's team, that dropped a 65-64 heartbreaking decision to JSU in the first round of the TAAC Tournament.
"Our team matured the most last season after that game," Cone said. "Losing at the last second had made this team more determined heading into this season."
Samford's Jodi Morris was picked to the All-Conference team after averaging 17.8 points and grabbing 7.3 rebounds per game. Other members of the preseason team include JSU's Lisa Baswell, the Preseason Player-of-the-Year, April Cromartie of Campbell, Cher Dyson of Stetson and Leslie McElrath of Georgia State.
ABOUT SAMFORD UNIVERSITY -- Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 3rd among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,509 students from 45 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.