Delaney Hodgins appreciates the honor – Big Sky Conference coaches voted her the preseason MVP – but not the implications of her Eagles being picked for a seventh-place finish.
“That means they don’t respect our returning players,” said Hodgins, who pointed out that two years ago, the Eagles were picked to finish ninth, yet wound up in second place.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a preseason poll and really has nothing to do with what our season will look like,” said coach Wendy Schuller, who’s won a combined 60 games in her last three seasons. Two of those campaigns ended in the postseason.
The Eagles return three starters from last year’s 19-14 squad, but lost two impact players in point guard Tisha Phillips and forward Ashli Payne.
Guard Violet Kapri Morrow and forward Alissa Sealby each started 31 games last year, but the action figures to revolve around Hodgins.
A starter since the first game of her freshman year, the 6-foot senior forward from Pasco was as consistent as it gets last year, playing 35 minutes a game and averaging 17.5 points, 6.2 rebounds while leading the team in almost every category.
In three seasons, Hodgins has scored in double figures in 82 of 98 games, including 61 of the last 65.
Eastern returns experienced depth with guard Symone Starks, forward Uriah Howard and Amira Chandler.
The Eagles also hope to get an immediate impact from four true freshmen, including center Cailyn Francis, forward Lily Perkins and guards Brittany Klaman and Lea Wolff.