Oct. 8, 2012
IRVING, Texas – The UAB women’s basketball team has been tabbed to finish third in Conference USA, while junior forward Karisma Chapman was selected to the Preseason All-Conference USA Team, as voted on by the league head coaches, the C-USA office announced Monday. The Blazers collected one first-place vote in the poll.
“I’m surprised and extremely excited by the third-place prediction of finish in the conference,” ninth-year head coach Audra Smith said. “I have to thank my colleagues for thinking that highly of my team, and of me as a coach. I feel like we have a very good team this year. We’ve got some kids returning and a group of young kids coming in that we’re expecting a lot from.”
Rice’s junior Jessica Kuster was named the league's Preseason Player of the Year, while Tulane was picked to win the 2013 C-USA women's basketball regular season title.
The Green Wave and UTEP collected five first-place votes to earn the top-two spots in this year's preseason poll. UAB ranks third and picked up one first place vote, followed by Rice and Memphis to round out the top five teams. The Tigers also tallied one top vote.
“Predictions are just predictions,” Smith said. “It’s a great honor to be picked to finish that high in such a great league, but I know from experience of coaching in this league for eight years, it’s very competitive from top to bottom. It doesn’t matter where you’re predicted to finish. Every team is going to come out fighting. That’s what makes Conference USA so special. There are no easy wins, no easy teams in Conference USA."
This year's preseason team is made up of eight players from eight different universities. Three are seniors and the remaining five are juniors.
Chapman, who was a C-USA All-Freshman Team selection in 2011, became the first UAB player named to the league's all-defensive team in 2012. The Blazers are one of only two C-USA programs (Southern Miss) to return two players named first or second-team all-conference last season. Chapman is one of the top all-around players in the league, ranking in the top 10 in scoring (13.8ppg/8th), steals (2.6spg/4th) and blocks (0.9 bpg/9th) per game a season ago.
“It’s a huge honor for Karisma,” Smith said. “She had a great year last year and really was a huge piece to our offensive puzzle. We’re going to be relying on her a lot this year. The thing with Karisma is that she’s such a special kid, and can play so many positions. She makes us a difficult team to defend. This is an honor that she definitely deserves.”
Smith has coached UAB to three top-three finishes in the Conference USA standings, two postseason berths and one Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) championship. The Blazers have set school and Conference USA records for scoring defense in each of the past two seasons, allowing 55.3 points per game in 2010-11 and a remarkable 49.1 points per contest in 2011-12. Last year's scoring defense mark ranked third in the nation, behind only Connecticut and Hampton.
The BOK Center and the Tulsa Convention Center will serve as the site of the 2013 C-USA Basketball Championships in Tulsa, Okla., from March 13-16. Semifinals and the championship game will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.
The Blazers tip off their two-game exhibition slate in 20 days when they host Brewton-Parker on Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. CT before welcoming UAH on Nov. 5 for a 7 p.m. CT tipoff. UAB will open regular season play on Nov. 9 at home against Austin Peay at Noon CT.
2012-13 C-USA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL
1. Tulane (5)
2. UTEP (5)
3. UAB (1)
5. Memphis (1)
7. Southern Miss
11. East Carolina
(#) denotes first-place votes
2012-13 C-USA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON TEAM
Nicole Dickson, Memphis - 6-0 / Sr. / F / Greeneville, Tenn./Greeneville HS
Jessica Kuster, Rice - 6-2 / Jr. / F / San Antonio, Texas/Reagan HS
Akil Simpson, SMU - 6-0 / Jr. / F / Duncanville, Texas/Duncanville HS
Jamierra Faulkner, Southern Miss - 5-6 / Jr. / PG / West Palm Beach, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy
Olivia Grayson, Tulane - 5-8 / Sr. / G / Metairie, La./Archbishop Capelle HS
Taleya Mayberry, Tulsa - 5-6 / Sr. / G / Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington HS
Karisma Chapman, UAB - 5-11 / Jr. / F / Calumet City, Ill./T.F. North HS
Kayla Thornton, UTEP - 6-1 / Jr. / F / El Paso, Texas/Irvin HS
PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Jessica Kuster, Rice