LSU women ranked No. 17 in preseason poll

Bill Martin
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The LSU women's basketball team, which returns seven letterwinners and three starters from its 2013 NCAA Sweet 16 squad, has been ranked No. 17 in the USA Today College Basketball Preseason Magazine that is on newsstands now.

Five Southeastern Conference teams made the poll, including No. 4 Tennessee, No. 7 Kentucky, No. 12 Texas A&M, No. 17 LSU and No. 23 South Carolina. The Lady Tigers were picked to finish third in the SEC preseason media poll released. Tennessee and Kentucky topped the order of finish.

LSU posted a 22-12 record last season and double-digit SEC victories for the second straight year under coach Nikki Caldwell. The Lady Tigers then beat ranked Green Bay and Penn State to reach the Sweet 16. The bulk of that squad returns led by first-team All-SEC selection Theresa Plaisance. Plaisance ranked in the top 10 in the league in five statistical categories and she led the conference in scoring with 17.0 points per game.

Sophomore guard Danielle Ballard, the SEC leader and LSU single-season record holder in steals, forms a talented backcourt. The Lady Tigers also feature three outstanding true freshmen in Raigyne Moncrief, Jasmine Rhodes and Rina Hill. Moncrief was LSU's leading scorer during its Spain exhibition trip in August.

USA Today Sports Basketball Preseason Magazine Poll

1. Connecticut

2. Stanford

3. Duke

4. Tennessee

5. Maryland

6. North Carolina

7. Kentucky

8. Louisville

9. Notre Dame

10. California

11. Nebraska

12. Texas A&M

13. Baylor

14. Dayton

15. Oklahoma

16. Penn State

17. LSU

18. Colorado

19. Georgia Tech

20. Oklahoma State

21. Iowa State

22. Michigan State

23. South Carolina

24. Purdue

25. Marist