Purdue, VU to play in 16-team preseason WNIT

Posted by RRR on May 26, 2010 at 9:40am | Page Views: 1,123

Looking to get a jump start after disappointing seasons in 2009-10, two Indiana teams will be participating in the 16-team preseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament in November. Both Purdue and Valparaiso will represent the Hoosier state and their respective conferences in early season play.

Valparaiso returns three starters and will be breaking in a recruiting class that includes a very strong contingent of post players in 5’11 forward Tabitha Gerardot (Canterbury), 6’1 forward Liz Horton (Barr-Reeve), 6’4 center Stefanie Lang (Valparaiso) and 6’1 forward Maegen Callaway (Mooresville, right). All four will gain valuable experience from early season play in preparation for the Horizon League season. Coach Keith Freeman will be trying to right the ship as he enters his 17th year at the VU helm.  Last season’s 9-21 record was the Crusaders’ worst since the 2000-01 season when VU went 7-22. Freeman has been under .500 only three times in his career with the Crusaders, two of those coming in the past three seasons after joining the Horizon League. Photo from the Indianapolis Star.

Purdue will also be looking to make some early progress after its first losing season in 25 years at 15-17. The Boilermakers return 2008 Miss Basketball Brittany Rayburn (Attica), who has developed into the premier go-to player for PU. Although the Boilermakers will sorely miss the services of graduates Fakhara Malone (Evansville Memorial) and Jodie Howell (Alexandria), Rayburn will get help from Alex Guyton (Bloomington North), who was recovering from an injury last season and played in only 22 of 36 games, as well as from highly-touted incoming freshmen Courtney Moses (Oak Hill) and Dee Dee Williams (Ben Davis). Both newbies should see lots of floor time early and often as Purdue and head coach Sharon Versyp try to re-establish the Boilermakers as one of the premier programs in the Big Ten.

The Preseason WNIT opens first-round play on November 12 and 13. Second-round games will be played November 14-15, semifinals on November 17-18, and the championship game on November 21. Teams that lose in the first two rounds will play consolation games on the weekend of November 19-20. All games are hosted by participating schools and sites are announced by the end of the preceding round.

Other schools in the 16-team field are Austin Peay, Hampton, James Madison, Lamar, South Dakota State, St. Francis (PA), Utah Valley, Charlotte, DePaul, Florida, Iona, Missouri State, Central Florida and Toledo. Brackets will be announced sometime next month.

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