Eighth place pick will motivate Messer's young squad

Eighth place pick will motivate Messer's young squad

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Coaches around the Ohio Valley Conference have not hung high expectations on the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team in 2009-10, picking the Golden Eagles for eighth place in the annual preseason poll.

That doesn't bother first-year coach Sytia Messer. In fact, it's a motivational tool for her and her extremely young squad.

"We posted in our locker room last night that we are picked eighth in the OVC, and our goal is to prove them wrong," Messer said. "Being picked eighth is a motivation for myself and my team."

Morehead State has been picked to win the league title, with Austin Peay second by just one point. In a race that's predicted to be close, the MSU Eagles earned 147 points, including nine first-place votes while, Austin Peay claimed six first-place votes and 146 points for second place.

Tennessee State picked up 134 points and four first-place votes for a predicted third place finish as Eastern Illinois earned the final first-place nod and 111 points to finish fourth. Rounding out the poll are Jacksonville State (84 points), Murray State (79 points), Southeast Missouri (67 points), Tennessee Tech (58 points), Eastern Kentucky (54 points) and UT Martin (18 points).

"The number one thing we’re trying to change with our kids is to instill in them a positive, winning attitude, on and off the court," Messer said. "We’re teaching them that the things they do off the court have an impact on what you do on the court."

Having won more OVC titles than any other team in the league, the expectation surrounding Tennessee Tech could be daunting, but Messer says she, her staff and her players will be up to meeting the challenge.

"I look up at all the banners hanging in Eblen Center, and I personally expect us to get back to that level of being a champion," she said. "I remind our players every day of where we were as a program, and where we’re going."

Morehead State's Chynna Bozeman was picked as the preseason Player of the Year, and is one of 10 players named to the preseason all-OVC squad.

The 2009-10 season gets underway on November 13 with Conference action set to begin on December 3.

2009-10 Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference Women's Basketball Team
(Selected by OVC Head Basketball Coaches and Sports Information Directors)

Chynna Bozeman, Morehead State*
Jasmine Smith, Tennessee State
Jolie Efezokhae, Jacksonville State
Oby Okafor, Tennessee State
Ashley Herring, Austin Peay
Nicole Jamen, Austin Peay
Tiffany Hamilton, Morehead State
Dominique Sims, Eastern Illinois
Brittany Wiley, Jacksonville State
Nadia Mossong, Eastern Kentucky

* - 1st team All-OVC in 2008-09

OVC PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Chynna Bozeman, Morehead State

2009-10 OVC Women's Basketball Predicted Order of Finish
(Selected by OVC Head Basketball Coaches and Sports Information Directors)

1. Morehead State (Nine first-place votes) -147
2. Austin Peay (Six first-place votes) - 146
3. Tennessee State (Four first-place votes) - 134
4. Eastern Illinois (One first-place votes) - 111
5. Jacksonville State - 84
6. Murray State - 79
7. Southeast Missouri - 67
8. Tennessee Tech - 58
9. Eastern Kentucky - 54
10. UT Martin - 18

(*Schools were not allowed to rank their own team. Nine points awarded for a first-place vote, eight for second, etc.)