The Youngstown State women's basketball team was tabbed to finish in a tie for fourth, and senior forward Heidi Schlegel was voted to the Preseason Horizon League First Team in a poll of the league's coaches, women's basketball sports information directors and select media.
The Penguins return three starters from last year's squad that went 10-6 in conference play and finished in a tie for third in the league standings. YSU, in its second season under head coach John Barnes, returns the fifth-most scoring and sixth-most rebounding in the league. The Penguins rank eighth in minutes returning, and they have a league-high seven freshmen on their roster.
Defending regular-season champion Green Bay was picked as the preseason favorite with 229 total points and 16 first-place votes, and defending tournament champion Wright State was picked second with 219 points and nine first-place votes. Cleveland State, which returns the highest percentage of points, rebounds, assists and minutes from last season, was tabbed to finish third with 182 points and received two first-place votes.
YSU and UIC both received 151 points to finish in a tie for fourth, and Oakland was picked sixth in the poll with 105 points. Milwaukee placed seventh with 61 points, one point ahead of eighth-place Valparaiso, and Detroit was slated to finish ninth with 57 points.
Schlegel, a native of Wapakoneta, Ohio, is coming off a season in which she averaged 20 points and eight rebounds to earn First-Team All-Horizon League honors. Among her long list of highlights in 2013-14, Schlegel set school record for points by a junior, free throws made and free throws attempted.
Schlegel is one of four players in the league who is returning from the all-conference first team. Wright State senior Kim Demmings was voted the Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year, and Schlegel and she were joined on the preseason first team by UIC's Ruvanna Campbell, Cleveland State's Imani Gordon and Wright State's Tay'ler Mingo. Demmings, Campbell and Gordon were first-team all-league honorees in 2013-14.
The preseason second team included Kaili Lukan and Tesha Buck from Green Bay, Cleveland State's Cori Coleman, Oakland's Elena Popkey and Milwaukee's Ashley Green.
Youngstown State will open its 40th season on Saturday, Nov. 15, at 11 a.m. against Niagara.