No pressure, University at Buffalo women's basketball team.
The Bulls were picked by Mid-American Conference coaches to finish first in the MAC East division this season, the conference announced Wednesday. It is the first time in program history that UB has been the preseason pick to win their division.
The Bulls earned 69 points, including 10 of 12 first-place votes, in the MAC East portion of the conference's preseason poll.
The 10 first-place votes were the most earned by the Bulls in program history. Central Michigan, the coaches' pick to win the MAC West division (10 of 12 first-place votes) is the top pick to win the conference's overall regular season title (10 of 12 votes) and the 2018 MAC Tournament title (9 of 12 votes). UB earned one vote to win the regular season title and one vote to with the tournament title.
Senior point guard Stephanie Reid was named to the preseason All-MAC East team for the second straight season. The native of Melbourne, Australia set the program record for assists in a season (233) while ranking seventh in the NCAA in assists per game (7.3) last year. Reid averaged a career-high 11.5 points, 7.3 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals in her junior year while she helped the Bulls advance to the MAC semifinals for the second straight season.
Buffalo is coming off of a 22-win season and have notched back-to-back 20 win seasons for the second time in program history.
UB and coach Felisha Legette-Jack will return 11 letter winners from last year's team, as well as four of their five starters. They lost senior shooting guard and leading scorer JoAnna Smith (17.2 points) to graduation. UB's five seniors will be Reid, Cassie Oursler, Katherine Ups, Liisa Ups and Mariah Suchan. UMass transfer Cierra Dillard, who sat out last season due to transfer rules, will play this season while the team features three newcomers in JUCO transfer Autumn Jones and freshmen Marissa Hamilton (All-Western New York first-teamer from Ellicottville) and Hanna Hall.
The Bulls will play an exhibition game against the Bloomsburg Huskies at Alumni Arena at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 3. UB opens the regular season at home on Nov. 10 against Delaware at 1 p.m. Its first MAC game is Dec. 30 at Akron.
MAC Preseason Poll results
East Predicted Order of Finish (First-place votes)
1. Buffalo (10) – 69 points
2. Kent State (1) - 52 points
3. Ohio (1) – 47 points
4. Miami – 40 points
5. Bowling Green – 23 points
6. Akron – 21 points
West Predicted Order of Finish (First-place votes)
1. Central Michigan (10) – 70 points
2. Toledo (1) – 60 points
3. Ball State (1) – 46 points
4. Western Michigan – 32 points
5. Northern Illinois – 29 points
6. Eastern Michigan – 15 points
2018 MAC Regular Season Predicted Champion
Central Michigan (10), Ball State (1), Buffalo (1)
2018 MAC Tournament Predicted Champion
Central Michigan (9), Ball State (1), Buffalo (1), Western Michigan (1)
Preseason All-MAC East Division
Carly Santoro, Bowling Green
Stephanie Reid, Buffalo
Jordan Korinek, Kent State
Lauren Dickerson, Miami
Taylor Agler, Ohio
Preseason All-MAC West Division
Moriah Monaco, Ball State
Presley Hudson, Central Michigan
Tinara Moore, Central Michigan
Mikaela Boyd, Toledo
Breanna Mobley, Western Michigan