Polls released; basketball teams move to Division I

Story by Kyle Davis

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With the start of the season less than one month away, talk of basketball has begun as the first coaches’ polls have been announced.

The Heart of America Athletic Conference released the 2008 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches’ Poll, and the conference held its Men’s and Women’s Basketball Media Day Oct. 8 in Kansas City, Mo. The media day was held at The College Basketball Experience at the Sprint Center.

Baker men’s basketball team is ranked No. 8 in the poll out of the 11 conference teams and the women’s team is ranked No. 6. MidAmerica Nazarene University is the No. 1-ranked conference team on the men’s side and William Jewell College is ranked No. 1 in the women’s poll.

“Our conference …  is so competitive. The preseason polls don’t mean a whole lot,” Susan Decker,  head women’s basketball coach, said.

Baker and the rest of the conference teams will be playing their first season in Division I of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, making the move from NAIA Division II.

“The move to go Division I was a good move for the conference,” athletic director Dan Harris said.

Harris said people won’t see the difference from going to Division I right away but will within the next three years.

For many HAAC teams that could make it into the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship, they will not have far to travel. The championship will be played at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.

Men’s basketball coach Rick Weaver said the move to Division I was good for the league because of the large number of conference teams in the Kansas City area.

The women's teams will have farther to travel for the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Championship Tournament, which is played in Jackson, Tenn. The Division II Tournament for the women is played in Sioux City, Iowa.<br/>There also will be a change in the scholarship aid given to athletes. Baker will have seven scholarship spots this year, and then it will rise to eight spots next year and nine in two years.There also will be a change in the scholarship aid given to athletes. Baker will have seven scholarship spots this year, and then it will rise to eight spots next year and nine in two years.
There also will be a change in the scholarship aid given to athletes. Baker will have seven scholarship spots this year, and then it will rise to eight spots next year and nine in two years.

Weaver said it was a pretty good recruiting year and the team has some pretty good quickness but injuries could be a factor. One injured player is senior Mike Mokeski, who injured his knee and is out indefinitely.

“We’re going to have to stay healthy,” Weaver said.

The women’s team is returning 10 of its 13 players with the other three being two freshmen, Gloria Atanmo and Rae Lynne Stewart, and sophomore Jenna Brantley, a transfer from Pittsburg State University.

Decker said the women’s running game will be pretty good as well as the guards, but the team is not as deep at the post position as it is at guard.