Coach: Shaun Vandiver, fourth season, 40-45
2013-14: 18-13, 10-9 MIAA
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Outlook: Emporia State had its best season under Vandiver last season, finishing tied for sixth in the MIAA. Heights product Terrance Moore turned into a star for the Hornets last season as the 6-foot-2 junior guard averaged 17.6 points and led the MIAA with 2.5 steals on his way to honorable mention All-MIAA honors.
Emporia State also returns guard Micah Swank (2.8 assists), a Pratt native, and should get help in the frontcourt from 6-8 forward Spenser Gales, a Wichita Northwest product who transferred from Coffeyville Community College and spent his freshman year at Houston Baptist.
Fort Hays State
Coach: Mark Johnson, 14th season, 268-114
2013-14: 22-8, 13-6
Outlook: The Tigers have a team that could make a deep run in the NCAA D-II Tournament and have one of the best players in the country returning in 5-9 junior guard Craig Nicholson, a Wichita Northwest product and honorable mention All-American.
Nicholson, a unanimous All-MIAA pick, averaged a school-record 7.4 assists last season, breaking the record he set as a freshman. Nicholson also led the Tigers at 17.2 points. A pair of Division I transfers should help Fort Hays State in 6-5 guard Royce Williams (Weber State) and 6-9 forward Dom Samac (Denver).
Coach: Kevin Muff, fifth season, 56-55
2013-14: 8-18, 4-15
Outlook: The bottom fell out for Muff and the Gorillas last season, finishing next-to-last in the MIAA. Third-team All-MIAA guard Devon Branch returns and is one of the better players in the conference. Branch, a 6-6 Oregon transfer, led Pittsburg State in points (20.6), rebounds (5.3), steals and blocks.
Pittsburg State returns two more players who averaged in double digits in guard Jake Bullard (14.8 points) and Sam Pugh (10.7).
The Gorillas’ fate will likely be determined in the post. The three returning big men – 6-8 Alex Williams, 6-7 Denton Hays and 6-7 Trevor Gregory – only averaged a combined 13.2 points and 10.0 rebounds last season.
Coach: Bob Chipman, 35th season, 738-306
2013-14: 17-10, 10-9
Outlook: The Ichabods return three starters, led by second-team All-MIAA selection Alex North, a 6-6 senior and Topeka native who averaged 16.1 points and 10 rebounds. Washburn also gets 6-5 junior forward and McPherson native Christian Ulsaker back after he broke his wrist four games into last season. Ulsaker was averaging 13.8 points when he got hurt.
Senior guard Kyle Wiggins averaged 15 points last season on his way to being named honorable mention All-MIAA.
Coach: Jory Collins, fifth season, 114-39
2013-14: 30-4, 16-3 MIAA
Outlook: The Hornets are the preseason favorite to win the MIAA after advancing to the Sweet 16 last year. Emporia State returns one of the best post players in the conference in Cheney native Merissa Quick, a 6-3 senior forward who has been at her best in the clutch.
Quick, a two-time MIAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, averaged 12.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks last season – those numbers jumped to 17.8 points and 7.7 rebounds in the postseason. The Hornets are ranked No. 14 nationally in the NCAA Division II preseason poll.
Fort Hays State
Coach: Tony Hobson, seventh season, 102-67
2013-14: 21-8, 12-7
Outlook: Fort Hays State missed out on the NCAA Tournament by one spot in the regional rankings last season. The top eight teams make it and the Tigers finished ninth.
Newton native Kate Lehman, a 6-4 center, is the two-time defending MIAA Defensive Player of the Year and is coming off an All-American season. Lehman averaged 16.5 points and 11.2 rebounds while setting the MIAA single-season record with 155 blocks. Lehman’s 374 career blocks rank her seventh in NCAA Division II history.
Junior guard Beth Bohuslavsky leads the Tigers’ backcourt after averaging 6.9 points and 3.2 assists on the way to being named honorable mention All-MIAA. Bohuslavsky’s 2.69 assist-to-turnover ratio was tops in the MIAA.
Coach: Lane Lord, eighth season, 127-76
2013-14: 23-8, 16-3
Outlook: The Gorillas have one of the best players in the nation back in 5-11 senior guard/forward Lizzy Jeronimus, a three-time All-American. Jeronimus averaged 18.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
Carroll product Cathy Brugman also returns. Brugman, a 6-1 junior forward, was second on the team in scoring last season at 9.5 points and was third-team All-MIAA.
Coach: Ron McHenry, 15th season, 358-82
2013-14: 16-11, 11-8
Outlook: Washburn has six seniors back, and they all started games last season. McPherson native and senior guard Casyn Buchman started all 27 games on the way to being named second-team All-MIAA. Buchman averaged 14.7 points and 6.1 rebounds. At one point, she hit 32 straight free throws – four short of the MIAA record.