SAINT LEO, Fla. - The Saint Leo women’s basketball team was selected ninth in the 2008-09 Sunshine State Conference Pre-Season Poll, it was announced Wednesday.  Last year’s SSC Champion Nova Southeastern has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2008-09 Sunshine State Conference Women’s Basketball Championship.

The Lions finished the 2007-08 season with a 13-15 record overall and their 6-10 record in league play was good for a seventh-place finish in the SSC.  One of the Lions’ best finishes in the past 10 years has head coach Chanita Olds, who enters her fourth season at the helm, shaking her head.

“Our motto on the team this year is ‘Believe’ and, based on what I saw in the preseason poll, we are going to spend the season making believers out of non-believers,” Olds said.

The Lions return 11 players from the 2007-08 season, including senior Melissa Guerero who averaged almost 12 points per game in 25 minutes of action.  Guerero and her teammates are joined by three newcomers this season.  Transfers Yolanda Whigham and Sierra Williams as well as freshman Brianna Lollis will look to prove the voters wrong.

Saint Leo will open its 2008-09 season at home with the Sleep Inn Classic when the Lions host the University of Alabama-Huntsville and Ave Maria University on Friday, November 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 16 at 4:00 p.m.  The Lions’ Sunshine State Conference schedule will begin at home versus SSC powerhouse Rollins College on Saturday, January 3 at 2:00 p.m.

Nova Southeastern received 126 points and 15 of a possible 18 first-place votes in preseason polling conducted among the league's women's basketball coaches and sports information directors.

After NSU's top billing, a total of just five points separated the teams ranked second through fifth. Barry, which received two first-place votes, tallied 89 points to narrowly edge third-place Lynn, which garnered 88. Tampa appeared at No. 4 with 85 points and the remaining first-place vote. Nipping at the Spartans' heels was Rollins, which weighed in fifth with 84 points.

Florida Southern and Eckerd were also closely ranked in the poll, with Florida Southern placing sixth with 57 points. Eckerd received 53 points in the seventh-place slot. The Lions missed out on the eighth-place spot to Florida Tech by a slim two point margin.

Rank - School, Points (1st Place Votes)
1 - Nova Southeastern, 126 (15)
2 - Barry, 89 (2)
3 - Lynn, 88
4 - Tampa, 85 (1)
5 - Rollins, 84
6 - Florida Southern, 57
7 - Eckerd, 53
8 - Florida Tech, 34
9 - Saint Leo, 32