Jacksonville Daily Progress
NJCAA Region 14 basketball coaches and members of the media that cover many of the teams gathered at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens Wednesday afternoon for the loop's annual Media Day.
The highlight of the meeting was the release of the respective coaches' pre-season polls, which give an early and the first real snap shot of the coaches' expectations for all of the league's clubs in the upcoming season, which gets under way on Nov. 1 for most teams.
As far as the Jaguars and Lady Jaguars of Jacksonville College are concerned, there were no real surprises in the results of the polls.
Head coach Jody Bailey's troops were picked to finish fourth in the South Zone, behind Lee College, San Jacinto and Lamar State-Port Arthur.
Blinn College, Angelina College and Coastal Bend College rounded out the South's pecking order.
Lee received seven first place votes, San Jac and Lamar St. two each.
Lee is coming off of a national tournament appearance a year ago and appears to be the logical choice to be the top dog in the South once again.
Typically the Jags get little respect in the preseason poll each year. Yet when tournament time rolls around in March, Bailey seems to always have his warriors right up there with the top teams in the conference; therefore there shouldn't bee too many, if any, tears shed about the jags being tabbed to finish in the middle of the pack in the South.
After all, the team returns, only two players from the 2012-13 active roster.
In the East Zone, Kilgore College picked up eight first-place votes to edge Navarro College for first place.
The Bulldogs, who have a new coach this year in Michael Landers, garnered a pair of first-place nods.
Tyler Junior College was the third-place choice, followed by Trinity Valley, who secured the remaining first-place vote.
Landers fill the void created when Johnny Estelle accepted an assistant coaching job at University of Houston in the spring.
Paris Junior College, Panola College and Bossier Parish Community College were chosen to finish five, six, and seven, respectively.
All of the league's coaches cast a ballot in the poll,with the exception of mentor's form Bossier Parish, Coastal bend and San Jacinto.
TVCC and Blinn top selections in women's poll
Returning two All-Americans off of last year's national championship squad, Trinity Valley was selected as the odds-on pick to win the whole ball of wax once again.
The Lady Cardinals received nine of the 10 first-place votes to finish ahead of Blinn and Tyler.
Angelina was picked fourth, one slot in front of San Jacinto, who received the league's other first-place vote.
San Jac is coached by former Lon Morris head coach Brenita Williams-Jackson.
Williams-Jackson has done well with her first recruiting class at San Jac, with her team considered to be a dark horse to really challenge some of the better teams in the circuit this year.
The Lady Jags were pegged to finish seventh, one spot behind Kilgore and in front of Panola, Paris and Bossier Parish, who is fielding a women's club for the first time this season.
The JC ladies have a brand-new head coach in Sam Houston State-product Leasa Ailshie, who previously served as the team'a assistant coach under then head coach Lynn Nabi. Nabi was promoted to academic dean at JC in the off season.
Ailshie has eight new players to work with this year, so the jury is still out on the Lady Jags at this point.
Only five points separated San Jac, Kilgore and JC, apparently in the eyes of the coaches it appears that there is a lot of parity in the league this year — with the exception of TVCC, the overwhelming choice to finish first and Bossier Parish, which the coaches felt strongly would be the cellar dweller this year.
All of the women's coaches participated in the balloting.
NOTE: Coastal Bend will be sponsoring a women's team for the first time this year, but the team will not play a full conference home-and-home schedule. Instead, the Lady Cougars will take on the eighth-place finisher in the regular season standings, with the winner of that game being Region 14's final representative in to the league's post season championship tournament, to be played at UT-Tyler in early March.