Coach: Shaun Vandiver, third season, 22-32
2012-13: 13-14, 8-10 MIAA
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Outlook: The Hornets have struggled in two seasons under Vandiver, and are picked to finish eighth in the MIAA. Emporia State has a pair of honorable-mention All-MIAA picks returning in 6-foot-11 senior center Paul Bunch (12.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.2 blocks) and 6-4 senior guard Kaleb Wright (14.4 points, 2.9 assists). The Hornets open the season with games against some of the best teams in the nation — at Oklahoma State and at Wichita State.
Fort Hays State
Coach: Mark Johnson, 13th season, 246-106
2012-13: 20-8, 13-5
Outlook: The Tigers are the preseason pick to win the MIAA in both the coaches and media polls in large part because of the return of two of the best players in the league in All-MIAA forward Dwayne Brunson, a 6-7 Queens, N.Y., native who played two years at Barton County and 5-9 sophomore point guard and Wichita native Craig Nicholson, last year’s MIAA freshman of the year and a second-team All-MIAA selection. Johnson signed a stellar recruiting class, led by 6-9 Miami (Ohio) transfer Jared Tadlock.
Coach: Kevin Muff, fourth season, 48-37
2012-13: 18-10, 10-8
Outlook: The Gorillas only return two players with experience and four overall from last season’s eighth-place team. Guard Jake Bullard is Pittsburg State’s top returning scorer at 7.0 points, while guard Sam Pugh averaged 3.8 points. There is hope for Pittsburg State, though, in a gaggle of transfers led by 6-6 junior guard Devon Branch, who comes in from Oregon and 6-8 forward Lamine Dieng, a transfer from Vincennes.
Coach: Bob Chipman, 34th season, 721-296
2012-13: 19-8, 12-6
Outlook: The Ichabods will be hard-pressed to replace two-time All-America guard Will McNeill, the No. 3 scorer in school history and a shutdown defender. Two Division I transfers should help in Western Kentucky’s Stephon Drane, a 6-8 forward, and 5-11 guard Chris Deanes. Also back after sitting out last season for personal reasons is junior guard Jeff Reid, a 6-6 Topeka Hayden product who started his career at Saint Louis and played two seasons for the Ichabods.
Coach: Jory Collins, fourth season, 84-35
2012-13: 23-9, 13-5 MIAA
Outlook: The Hornets were picked second in the coaches poll behind Central Missouri and first in the media poll, switching places with the Mules. The reason for the optimism is that Emporia State brings back its three best players, led by second-team All-MIAA selection Laura Patrick, who averaged 14.6 points last season and was an All-MIAA Tournament selection. Cheney native and 6-foot-3 junior forward Merissa Quick came on late in the season after battling injuries, averaging 11.8 points and 6.6 rebounds along with winning Most Outstanding Player at the MIAA Tournament. Guard Rheanna Egli, who led the team with 3.4 assists last season, also returns.
Fort Hays State
Coach: Tony Hobson, sixth season, 81-59
2012-13: 22-7, 12-6
Outlook: Junior center Kate Lehman had one of the most dominant seasons for a post player in MIAA history. The 6-foot-4 Newton native averaged 16.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and set the MIAA record with 123 blocks on her way to All-MIAA and MIAA defensive player of the year honors. She’s not the only star back for the Tigers — 6-foot senior guard Katelyn Edwards was third-team All-MIAA last season and second on the team at 13,1 points and 7.9 rebounds. Hobson is six wins shy of 500 for his career after previous stops at Hastings, where he won three NAIA national championships, and Barton County.
Coach: Lane Lord, seventh season, 104-68
2012-13: 17-10, 11-7
Outlook: The Gorillas have one of the best players in the MIAA — if not the nation — back in 5-11 junior forward Lizzy Jeronimus. Jeronimus is already a two-time honorable mention All-American and led the MIAA in scoring last season with 18.4 points. She also led the Gorillas in rebounds (6.7) and assists (2.7). The problem last year was with the pieces around her as the Gorillas lost a big chunk of their nucleus following their run to the Elite Eight in 2012.
Coach: Ron McHenry, 14th season, 342-71
2012-13: 23-6, 16-2
Outlook: McHenry and the Lady Blues are trying for their third straight MIAA title and 13th straight NCAA Division II Tournament appearance with almost an entirely new team. All five starters off last season are gone and the returner with the most experience is 6-1 junior forward Brittney Lynch, who started 14 of 22 games last season before being sidelined with a knee injury.