The defending Mid-Continent Conference Tournament champion Valparaiso Crusaders have been selected to win the regular season in 2004-2005 according to a vote of the conference coaches, sports information directors, and selected media members according the preseason poll that was released on Thursday. Seniors Jenna Stangler (St. Michael, Minn./St. Michael-Albertville H.S.) and Katie Boone (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove H.S.) were selected to the preseason First and Second Teams respectively as well.
The Crusaders, which defeated Oral Roberts 64-63 in the Mid-Con title game last season, earned nine first place votes and garnered 185 points to edge out Western Illinois in the preseason balloting by six points. Oral Roberts was selected a close third with 175 points. Oakland was chosen to finish fourth, followed by Southern Utah and UMKC. IUPUI, Chicago State, and Centenary round out the poll.
Stangler, a 6'1"forward, led the Crusaders in scoring and rebounding last season. The Honorable Mention All Mid-Continent Conference selection averaged 10.6 points and 5.2 boards per night, while shooting 81.7% from the free throw line.
Boone, a 5'7" guard, finished third in the conference in assists (4.3 per game) last season, while ranking second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.14). The Second Team All Mid-Con selection a year ago also averaged 6.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 51.2% from beyond the three-point arc.
Valpo finished the 2003-2004 season 20-12 overall, tying for second in the Mid-Con during the regular season with an 11-5 mark. The Crusaders advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season before falling to Kansas State in the First Round 71-63.
The Crusaders open exhibition play on Nov. 7 hosting the Hoosier Lady Stars in a 2:05 p.m. contest at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The regular season begins no Nov. 19 against Virginia Tech at the Subway Classic held in Minneapolis, Minn.