The Liberty women's basketball team has been picked to finish second in the Big South this season and sophomore post player Keyen Green was voted to the first team Preseason All-Big South squad, as voted upon by the conference's head coaches. The preseason poll and all-conference teams were announced at Tuesday's 2017-18 Big South Basketball Media Day, held at the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel.
Liberty, which earned one first-place vote and 81 total points, is listed inside the top two of the Big South preseason women's basketball poll for the 20th time in the last 21 years.
Defending Big South regular-season champion Radford enters as the 2017-18 preseason favorite, garnering seven of 10 first-place nods and 96 total points. Following the Lady Flames, Campbell (third place, 77 points), High Point (fourth, 73) and two-time defending Big South Championship victor UNC Asheville (fifth, 65) round out the top five. Asheville claimed the two remaining first-place votes.
Charleston Southern (sixth, 50), Gardner-Webb (seventh, 38), Presbyterian (eighth, 37), Longwood (ninth, 17) and Winthrop (10th, 16) comprise the bottom half of the preseason poll.
Green was joined on the first team Preseason All-Big South unit by Preseason Player of the Year Emma Bockrath of High Point, Radford's duo of Janayla White and Jayda Worthy and Presbyterian's Cortney Storey.
Green enjoyed a stellar freshman season, as she was named Big South Freshman of the Year, VaSID State Rookie of the Year and to the second team All-Big South squad. The first-ever eight-time Big South Freshman of the Week, Green paced the conference in field goal percentage (.598), offensive rebounds (3.6 rpg) and double-doubles (9), while ranking second in rebounding (8.1 rpg) and fourth in blocked shots (1.0 bpg).
Liberty returns 88.1 percent of its scoring from last season, highlighted by the 2017 Big South All-Freshman Team trio of Green (12.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg), Iva Ilic (7.0 ppg, 40 three-pointers) and Ola Makurat (6.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg). Point guard Nene Johnson (7.8 ppg, 2.8 apg) is also back as one of the Lady Flames' two seniors on the 2017-18 roster.
The 2016-17 Lady Flames finished 13-17 overall, including 12-6 in Big South play. It marked Liberty's 18th consecutive season with 10+ conference wins.
Liberty will open the 2017-18 season with its fifth Preseason WNIT appearance, beginning with a Nov. 10 trip to Old Dominion.
The Lady Flames' 18-game Big South Conference slate will begin with a Jan. 2 visit to Presbyterian.
For the second consecutive season, Liberty will play host to the Big South Women's Basketball Championship at the Vines Center, March 8-11.
2017-18 Big South Women's Basketball Preseason Poll Team (First-place votes) – Points 1) Radford (7) – 96 2) Liberty (1) – 81 3) Campbell – 77 4) High Point – 73 5) UNC Asheville (2) – 65 6) Charleston Southern – 50 7) Gardner-Webb – 38 8) Presbyterian – 37 9) Longwood – 17 10) Winthrop – 16
2017-18 Big South Women's Basketball Preseason All-Conference Team
First Team Emma Bockrath, High Point (Preseason Player of the Year) Keyen Green, Liberty Jayda Worthy, Radford Janayla White, Radford Cortney Storey, Presbyterian
Second Team Ke'Asia Jackson, Charleston Southern Summer Price, Campbell Tierra Huntsman, Gardner-Webb Khaila Webb, UNC Asheville MaKala Rouse, Campbell