Oct. 31, 2007
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State women's basketball team is ranked 18th in the preseason USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches' Poll released Wednesday afternoon, marking the fourth consecutive season the Spartans have been ranked in the preseason poll. MSU is one of three Big Ten teams ranked, along with No. 16 Ohio State and No. 20 Purdue. Oklahoma, who visits the Breslin Center on Dec. 16, is ranked sixth, while possible Preseason WNIT opponents Maryland (No. 4) and LSU (No. 5) are also ranked in the top 10. The Spartans have been ranked in every USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches' Poll for the last three seasons, dating back to the 2004-05 preseason poll.
Michigan State was selected second by the media and fourth by the coaches in the preseason Big Ten poll released Oct. 28.
The Spartans return three starters and eight letterwinners from last year's team that tied for the second-most wins in school history with 24 and defeated every team in the conference en route to a 13-3 league record. MSU, which finished 24-9 overall, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight season. Sophomore center Allyssa DeHaan, the 2007 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, was named to both preseason All-Big Ten teams and was a unanimous choice by the coaches.
In addition to DeHaan, first-year head coach Suzy Merchant welcomes back starters Aisha Jefferson and Mia Johnson, along with letterwinners Mandy Piechowski, Courtney Davidson, Takeya Fortner, Alisa Wulff and Lauren Aitch. Four freshmen will also see time for MSU: Kalisha Keane, Brittney Thomas, Taja Wilson and Cetera Washington. Johnson will not play during the non-conference portion of the schedule due to a knee injury suffered in the summer, but is expected to be back for Big Ten play.
Michigan State's first-ever preseason ranking arrived in 2004-05, as the Spartans began the year No. 16 in the coaches' poll before finishing a program-record second in the final poll. The Spartans were ranked 11th in the 2005-06 preseason poll and 17th last season.
MSU will host Grand Valley State in an exhibition Thursday, Nov. 1 at the Breslin Center at 7 p.m.