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Warley, Lady Flames Win Top Preseason Billing
|Avery Warley, pictured here with Big South Conference Commissioner Kyle B. Kallander, was voted the Big South Preseason Player of the Year.|
The 2011-12 Liberty women's basketball team is expected to enjoy another successful season, according to the votes of the Big South Conference's head coaches and media members. The Lady Flames were tabbed the preseason favorite to win their 14th Big South title and redshirt senior center Avery Warley was named Big South Preseason Player of the Year at Tuesday's 2011-12 Basketball Tip-Off Media Luncheon, held at the Renaissance Suites Hotel in Charlotte, N.C.
Redshirt junior guard/forward Devon Brown also made the preseason All-Big South team for the Lady Flames, who garnered 19 of 20 available first-place votes and tallied 199 total points. Finishing a distant second in the voting was 2012 Big South Championship host High Point, which notched 160 points and earned the remaining first-place nod.
Warley is coming off of a stellar junior season which saw her garner Big South Defensive Player of the Year and first team All-Big South laurels. She averaged a double-double (12.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg), while breaking the Liberty and Big South rebounding records with 363 boards. Warley tied for ninth nationally with 19 double-doubles and finished No. 14 in rebounding.
Before she tips off her senior season at Liberty, Warley will play for Team USA at the Pan American Games, to be held Oct. 21-25 in Guadalajara, Mexico. She will leave Saturday to join her Team USA teammates for training camp.
Brown, who was last season's Big South Preseason Player of the Year, saw her redshirt sophomore campaign hampered by injuries. However, she was still able to earn her second straight first team All-Big South recognition after pacing the Lady Flames in both scoring (13.5 ppg) and three-pointers made (35).
Brown and Warley are the top two returnees from last year's Liberty team, which finished 22-11 and won the Big South regular-season title. The Lady Flames closed their year with their first-ever WNIT Tournament appearance. Head coach Carey Green, beginning his 13th year at the helm, also returns starters Emily Frazier and Tolu Omotola to the lineup.
Radford placed third in the Big South preseason poll with 157 points, followed by defending conference champion Gardner-Webb, selected fourth with 143 markers. Winthrop was picked fifth at 94 points with conference newcomer Campbell earning the No. 6 spot with 77 points. Charleston Southern (7th place, 75 points), Coastal Carolina (8th, 68), Presbyterian College (9th, 67) and UNC Asheville (10th, 60) closed out the poll.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the preseason all-conference squad consists of High Point's Shamia Brown, Radford's Da'Naria Erwin-Spencer and Winthrop's Dequesha McClanahan.
Liberty held its first official team practice for the 2011-12 season Oct. 2 inside the Schilling Center, and the Lady Flames are now exactly one month away from tipping off the campaign. Liberty will travel to UNC Greensboro Nov. 11 for its season opener.
The Lady Flames will play their first of 14 home games Nov. 15, when VCU visits the Vines Center. Liberty will then tip off defense of its Big South regular-season championship Dec. 31 at Radford.
The 2012 Big South Women's Basketball Championship will be hosted by High Point for the fourth straight season. The tournament will be played at the Millis Center, March 9-11.
2011-12 Big South Women's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team
Avery Warley, Liberty (Preseason Player of the Year)
Devon Brown, Liberty
Shamia Brown, High Point
Da'Naria Erwin-Spencer, Radford
Dequesha McClanahan, Winthrop
2011-12 Big South Women's Basketball Preseason Poll
Team (First-place votes) – Points
1) Liberty (19) – 199
2) High Point (1) – 160
3) Radford – 157
4) Gardner-Webb – 143
5) Winthrop – 94
6) Campbell – 77
7) Charleston Southern – 75
8) Coastal Carolina – 68
9) Presbyterian College – 67
10) UNC Asheville – 60