UAA women's basketball team ranked 22nd in season's first poll

The UAA women's basketball team is reinventing itself after losing the coach who turned it into a national powerhouse and most of the stars from last season's 30-5 team.

But one thing remains the same as the Seawolves prepare for an exhibition game Sunday at Arizona State. They are ranked nationally in the NCAA Division II poll, coming in at No. 22 Tuesday in the season's first poll.

The ranking marks the fifth straight season the Seawolves have been ranked among Division II's top 25.

No team has been in the top 25 longer. UAA has been ranked in 82 consecutive polls, a streak that dates back to Oct. 31, 2007 -- the start of Moser's second season with the Seawolves. In six years, Moser turned a losing program into a winning one, three times guiding UAA to the Elite Eight of the national tournament.

Moser resigned unexpectedly after last season and later took a job as an assistant at Division I Colorado State.

It took UAA two tries to replace him -- Nathan Altenhofen, the first coach hired, resigned amid allegations of what the university called "professional misconduct." That opened a door for Ryan McCarthy, a five-year assistant women's basketball coach for the Northwest Nazarene, a conference rival of UAA's.

Also leaving the program unexpectedly were four players, two of them highly decorated starters last season.

Haley Holmstead, a high-scoring guard who was an All-American honorable mention pick as a junior, and Gritt Ryder, a guard who was the Great Northwest Athletic Conference's Freshman of the Year, both quit the team. So did Bruna Deichmann, a starter in about half of last season's games, and freshman Katie Richens.

Also gone is All-American center Hanna Johansson, who wrapped up a brilliant four-year career last season.

The only returning starter is senior point guard Sasha King, but the Seawolves have another top returner in senior forward Alysa Horn, who played as much as a starter last season. She averaged nine points and five rebounds a game as the team's -- if not the conference's -- top reserve.

Sunday's exhibition game in Tempe, Ariz., continues UAA's trend of opening the season against a Division I team -- a habit started by Moser.

The Seawolves open the regular season Nov. 9 with a home series against Colorado School of Mines.

Gaining the No. 1 ranking in the season's first poll is Ashland University of Ohio -- the team that beat UAA in last season's national quarterfinals. The only other GNAC team in the rankings is Western Washington, which is No. 15.

Anchorage Daily News