COLLEGE STATION -- With the 2008-09 season just a month away, the Texas A&M women’s basketball team has earned a preseason No. 4 ranking in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Annual top 25 poll.
It marked the program’s highest-ever preseason and overall national ranking in school history next to last year’s preseason No. 6 ranking by SLAM Magazine. The Aggies finished No. 8 nationally in the final Associated Press and USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches Top 25 polls after reaching the NCAA Elite Eight and winning the Big 12 Conference Tournament title in 2008.
“Few teams were playing better than A&M at the end of 2007-08, when the Aggies ran off 12-straight wins before they fell to eventual national champion Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament,” wrote Athlon’s women’s college basketball analyst Doug Herakovich. “The tandem of Takia Starks and Danielle Gant will give coach Gary Blair two of the most talented athletes in the country.”
A&M was also ranked No. 11 in the Lindy’s College Basketball Annual preseason top 25 poll and in the preseason women’s Sweet 16 list published in this week’s USA TODAY College Basketball Sports Weekly.
“Still looking to rule the Big 12. The Aggies return three starters, including top scorers Takia Starks and Danielle Gant, to a team that went 29-8 last season and ran deep into the NCAA Tournament, reaching the Elite Eight,” wrote Lindy’s college basketball analyst Michelle Smith. “Gary Blair’s team also gets a great addition in junior college All-American Tanisha Smith, who averaged 18.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
“Blair has built Texas A&M into a powerhouse without relying on McDonald’s All-Americans and barely reaching outside of Texas for his players. The Aggies look like a force in the Big 12 for another season.”
The Aggies return three starters, all of whom are seniors, including All-America candidates Takia Starks (Houston, Texas) and Danielle Gant (Oklahoma City, Okla.) and 6-foot-3 center La Toya Micheaux (Missouri City, Texas). A&M also returns six players from its NCAA Elite Eight squad along with welcoming six talented newcomers into the fold.
“Starks and Gant return to form one of the most potent backcourts in the nation,” wrote USA TODAY sports writer Paul Williams. “Starks and Gant combined for more than 1,100 points last season, nearly half of the team total. The Aggies also proved they can be very resilient. Last year, after a midseason slump in which Texas A&M lost four of five conference games, the Aggies fought back to win 16 of 18 and win the Big 12 Tournament.”
2008-09 ATHLON’S PRESEASON TOP 25 POLL
4. Texas A&M
8. Arizona State
12. North Carolina
13. Ohio State
15. Old Dominion
17. Oklahoma State
19. Kansas State
20. Florida State
23. Michigan State
2008-09 LINDY’S PRESEASON TOP 25 POLL
6. North Carolina
11. Texas A&M
12. Oklahoma State
17. Ohio State
20. Notre Dame
21. Arizona State
22. Florida State
2008-09 USA TODAY COLLEGE BASKETBALL PRESEASON SWEET 16