The Purdue University Calumet women's basketball team heads into the 2014-15 season with high expectations as the Peregrines were selected as the No. 10 team in the country in the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball Coaches Preseason Top 25 Poll, announced by the national office Tuesday.
Purdue Calumet opens the regular season Friday with a 5 p.m. matchup against Viterbo in the opening game of the Peregrines' annual Tip-Off Classic.
The Peregrines finished the 2013-14 season ranked No. 12 in the final Coaches Top 25 Poll after completing the year with a 25-7 record that included a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament championship, a trip to the NAIA Division II National Tournament, and the program's first nationals win and advancement into the Sweet 16.
Eighth-year head coach Tom Megyesi was named the CCAC Coach of the Year and NAIA Region IV Coach of the Year for leading the Peregrines to their second-straight national tournament and their third-straight 20-win season. The 2013-14 squad also set single-season records for total points (2,577/80.5ppg), 3-point field goals (269) and free-throw percentage (78.9 percent).
The Peregrines return three starters from last year's team, including CCAC Freshman of the Year Cassidy Deno, a 5-11 guard from Benton Central High (Otterbein, Ind). Deno averaged 15.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and was second in the nation in free throw percentage (89.0 percent). Also back is senior Kami Graber (Nashville, Ind./Brown County) a 5-8 senior guard (12.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.1 apg) and junior Patrice McBee (Culver, Ind./Culver Community), a 6-2 forward (10.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1 bpg).
Junior Jada Buggs (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Memorial), a 6-foot transfer from NCAA Division I Northern Illinois, highlights the list of six Peregrine newcomers. The combo guard/forward was a Indiana All-Star and second-team all-state player at Elkhart Memorial.
Defending national champion Saint Francis (Ind.) was selected as the top-ranked team in the preseason poll after finishing the 2013-14 season unbeaten at 38-0 to earn its 12th consecutive No. 1 ranking. The Peregrines will face some of the best competition in the country this season, as league members St. Xavier (No. 6), Cardinal Stritch (No. 12) made the poll, along with nonleague foes Huntington (No. 19), St. Ambrose (No. 20).
CCAC members Indiana South Bend and Robert Morris also received votes in the poll, which is voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the 11 NAIA conferences/associations of independent and affiliated groups.