Kansas City, Mo. - With its season-opening exhibition against NCAA Division I DePaul University (Ill.) set for Friday, October 31, the Saint Xavier University women's basketball program learned it had received a No. 13 ranking when the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) released its annual Preseason Women's Basketball Division I Top 25 Ranking late Monday. The Cougars return three starters, including NAIA All-American junior forward Erin Hannemann (Homer Glen, Ill./Providence Catholic), from a team that had a 23-9 overall record, finished first in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) with a 8-2 mark, and qualified for the NAIA National Tournament for the sixth straight season.
SXU faces a difficult non-conference slate this season with four exhibitions against NCAA Division I opponents including Northern Illinois University, University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) and Chicago State University. The Cougars will also match up against some of the NAIA's best, including No. 1 ranked Union University (Tenn.) in Jackson, Tenn. (Nov. 21), No. 3 Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) in Jackson, Tenn. (Nov. 20), No. 9 Lambuth University (Tenn.) in Jackson, Tenn. (Nov. 22) and No. 16 Westminster College (Utah) in Honolulu, Hawaii (Dec. 19).
"A preseason rank like this one means that as a program we have built a tradition for being nationally recognized around the NAIA as a top competitor," said Saint Xavier University women's basketball coach Bob Hallberg. "We will have our work cut out for us with a very tough non-conference schedule, but playing against tough competition is the only way to prepare for our ultimate goal of winning a national championship."
Saint Xavier officially opens its 2008-09 campaign on Saturday, November 8, with a home game against McKendree University (Ill.) at the Shannon Center in Chicago. Game time is set for 4 p.m.Click here to the 2008 NAIA Women's Basketball Division I Preseason Top 25 Poll