#32 Middle Tennessee Women's Basketball 2012-13 Preview

Middle Tennessee State Raiders

Overall rank: #32
Conference rank: #1 Sun Belt
Middle Tennessee Women's College Basketball 2012-2013 Team Preivew
Middle Tennessee Team Page


What would an NCAA tournament be without Middle Tennessee State? The Raiders qualified for the big dance for the fourth straight year and the eighth time in nine seasons, garnering 26 victories along the way. Middle Tennessee State lost to Vanderbilt in the first round of the tournament, but it was another successful season for the Raiders. If only the leaders of the Sun Belt didn’t have to face the Southeastern Conference all the time; for the third year in a row Middle Tennessee lost to an SEC school in the opening round. This year’s Middle Tennessee squad is younger but could be just as talented as past programs. The Raiders figure to be the class of the Sun Belt once again, but can they return to the NCAA and get past that first-round bump?

2011-12 record: 26-7, 16-0
2011-12 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Rick Insell
Coach Record: 174-54 overall

Insell is an underrated coach, having won 10 state championships at the high school level (Shelbyville Central) between 1986 and 2004. Of course, no coach is better than the players he has on the court, and the top three scorers are all back for another go-round. Kortni Jones, Ebony Rowe and Icelyn Elie all averaged double-figures, accounting for approximately 45 points per game, and Rowe’s double-double average in points and rebounds gives the Raiders a huge advantage on the boards. Laken Leonard is another key to the offense, thanks to her sharp 3-point shooting skills. Scoring, rebounding, steals, shooting… what more could the Raiders ask for? That’s pretty much basketball in a nutshell.

If you can pinpoint any realistic weakness in this lineup, it’s the youth. There are only three seniors on the roster and three freshmen, with plenty of sophomores and juniors in between. In reality that isn’t much of a weakness, but if injuries or ineffectiveness mar the Raiders in any game it could be a problem. That’s being more nitpicky than anything else. An inability to get past the SEC in postseason play could be more of a weakness than anything else.

Final Projection:
Overwhelming strengths plus minimal weaknesses equals one of Insell’s strongest teams of his tenure, if not the strongest. A tough schedule that includes Tennessee and Kentucky will challenge the Raiders, as the Sun Belt may be another walk in the park just like it was last year. The Raiders have two of the top three players graduating after this year, so this might be the make-or-break campaign. A 30-win season isn’t out of the question for Middle Tennessee, as this could be Insell’s best club yet.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Kortni Jones, Senior, Guard, 16.8 points and 4.6 assists per game
Ebony Rowe, Junior, Forward, 16.3 points and 10.1 rebounds
Icelyn Elie, Senior, Forward, 13.7 points, 31.7 percent 3-point shooting
Shanice Cason, Sophomore, Guard, 7.0 points, 67 total steals
Laken Leonard, Junior, Guard, 5.2 points