OSU Women Picked First By Big Ten Coaches

With four starters returning, Ohio State women's basketball coach Jim Foster's Buckeyes have been picked as the preseason Big Ten favorite by the conference's coaches. Foster and his team met with the media Wednesday to preview the 40th year of intercollegiate basketball at OSU.

The Ohio State women's basketball team conducted its preseason media day this afternoon, just hours after the Big Ten announced that coach Jim Foster's team had been picked as the preseason favorite in the conference race by the league's coaches.

The media picked OSU in front of Michigan State and Minnesota. The media chose Purdue No.1, the Buckeyes No. 2, and Penn State No. 3. Ohio State was the only squad named in both polls.

"You've just got to get better and not pay any attention to that stuff," Foster said when asked for his reaction to that news. "The only thing that would worry me is if the writers voted us No. 1," he joked.

OSU sophomore center Jessica Davenport, the media's pick for 2003-04 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, was named a member of both the media and the coaches' preseason all-conference teams. Davenport averaged 12.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocked shots per game in her rookie campaign.

The Buckeyes return four starters for the 2004-05 season, including Davenport and second team All-Big Ten selection Caity Matter. OSU was 21-10 last season, finished third in the Big Ten and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament. In preseason rankings, the Buckeyes are No. 6 according to Women's Basketball News Service, No. 8 in Athlon and No. 13 among Lindy's rankings.

"I think we will be a lot deeper team," Foster said. "That will allow us to put pressure on teams defensively. We played a lot of people a lot of minutes last year. The depth should be a significant difference."

OSU lost center LaToya Turner to graduation, but the Buckeyes should be loaded in the backcourt. That should allow Foster to put Davenport inside and go with a 1-4 look.

"We should be more four around one," he said. "We should be able to get up after you in the fullcourt."

Foster likes his returning nucleus.

"I think they learned how to compete during this off-season," he said. "I think they have learned how to play hard and to play hard on a regular basis."

Matter returns after averaging 14.8 points per game a year ago.

"Obviously, this is where you'd like to be (as the favorite)," Matter said. "It's a great honor to be up there. But we haven't practiced together or played together. Preseason rankings don't mean that much. You have to go out there and play.

"I know for me it's going to be my last go around and it's exciting."

Davenport is also eager to begin practice on Saturday.

"I think we can be a really athletic team," she said. "We should be a really good defensive team. I think we got a lot closer as a team in the off-season.

"I'm only a sophomore, but I consider myself a veteran because I got to play a lot of minutes and I got a lot of experience. I hope I can help the younger players."

Guards Brandie Hoskins (9.4 points per game) and Kim Wilburn (6.4 ppg) also return as starters from last year. Guard Ashley Allen returns after playing just six games last year due to injury. Also back in the backcourt are Candace Dark and Beth Howe, while Michelle Munoz and Stephanie Blanton return inside.

New to the mix is Vanderbilt transfer Tia Battle, a 6-0 swing player, as well as true freshmen Marscilla Packer (5-9), Alice Jamen (6-3) and Tamarah Riley (6-2). Packer was one of Ohio's top prospects this past year from nearby Pickerington North.

OSU will open up the 40th season of intercollegiate women's basketball Nov. 12 by hosting Bowling Green in the Preseason WNIT. OSU will play an exhibition against the Australian Institute of Sport Nov. 10.

Click the link below for the OSU women's basketball schedule.

OSU Women's Basketball Schedule

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