LEWISBURG, Pa. – Bucknell junior Kaitlyn Slagus was voted to the Preseason All-Patriot League Team and the Bison were picked as the favorite, in a tie with Army West Point, to sit atop the conference standings once again this season. The results of the league’s preseason poll were released by the conference office on Wednesday.
"Honestly, I was a little surprised to see us up there that high,” Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell said. “We lost some really big pieces to graduation, but it does show a great respect from league coaches for our program and for the talent that is still here. Still, I have a hard time believing we are the best team in the league right now, but if we fix a few things I see no reason why we can't be soon."
Bucknell and Army West Point finished with an identical 140 points and seven first-place votes. Voting for the Patriot League women’s basketball preseason poll, Player of the Year and All-League team was conducted by conference head coaches and sports information directors. Neither group was permitted to vote for their own team or student-athletes.
Based on the voting, the league is wide open this year with any team having a chance to move into the top tier. American was right behind the top two teams in third with 135 points and five first-place votes, while Navy also received a first-place vote and finished fourth in the poll with 119 votes. Rounding out the poll were Boston University (91), Holy Cross (81), Lehigh (64), Colgate (55), Loyola (54), and Lafayette (22).
Bucknell has won at least a share of the Patriot League regular season title in each of the past two seasons, including an outright championship and a Patriot League Tournament title last season. The Bison then received a No. 14 seed, the highest in program history, in the NCAA Tournament, where it played at No. 3 Maryland.
The Preseason All-League Team also showed the expected parity of the league this season, with five different teams represented on the five-player squad. Slagus, a Second Team All-Patriot League honoree last season, was joined on the preseason team by Army West Point junior Madison Hovren, Boston University senior Sophie Beaudry, Holy Cross sophomore Lauren Manis, and Loyola senior Bri Betz-White.
Slagus, who was the Patriot League Rookie of the Year two seasons ago, played all 33 games for the Bison last year. She finished second in the conference in rebounding (8.8), fourth in blocks (1.5), and 12th in scoring (12.2). She finished with 12 double-doubles and scored in double-digits 21 times. Slagus just missed a triple-double early in the season, tallying 16 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, and five blocks in a 69-64 win over Manhattan.
For her career, Slagus has won four Patriot League Player of the Week honors and five Rookie of the Week awards. She has had 34 games with double-digit scoring, 16 games with double-digit rebounds, and has led the team in rebounding 22 times.
Bucknell has had a Preseason All-League player in four consecutive seasons. Audrey Dotson was voted to the team in 2014, while Claire DeBoer received the honor in consecutive years (2015-16).
"There are a lot of key players returning across the league this year,” Roussell said. “Army and American had great seasons last year and return the bulk of their teams, and there are a lot of others that wouldn't surprise me to see a run to the top of the league either. The coaches have always made this a difficult league and that will undoubtedly be the case again this year."
The Bison open the season on the road at Rider on Friday, Nov. 10. The home opener, which will include a banner unveiling for the latest championships, will be against Akron on Sunday, Nov. 12, at 2 p.m.
2017-18 Patriot League Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll
Bucknell, 140 (7 first-place votes) Army West Point, 140 (7 first-place votes)
American, 134 (5)
Navy, 119 (1)
Boston University, 91
Holy Cross, 81
Loyola Maryland, 54
2017-18 Patriot League Women’s Basketball Preseason Player of the Year
Madison Hovren, Army West Point, Jr., F
2017-18 Patriot League Women’s Basketball Preseason All-League Team
Madison Hovren, Army West Point, Jr., F
Sophie Beaudry, Boston University, Sr., C
Kaitlyn Slagus, Bucknell, Jr., F
Lauren Manis, Holy Cross, So., F
Bri Betz-White, Loyola Maryland, Sr., G