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Team Finishes Second In WBCA's Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll
Posted: 7/17/2008
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Head coach Mike Miller has led teams with incredible success both on the floor and in the classroom.

Atlanta, GA — Following a 2007-2008 season that boasted a program-best 30-3 overall record and second trip to the NCAA Division III National Championship game, the Messiah College women’s basketball team was honored in a different light this week, being ranked second in the 11th annual Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll.

Messiah finished with a cumulative team grade point average of 3.627 during the academic year, the second highest GPA of any Division III women’s basketball team in the nation. Only Concordia (Wisconsin) University’s 3.637 mark bettered the Falcons’ efforts in the classroom.

“This is obviously a tremendous honor, and it’s an award we take very seriously here,” said Mike Miller, Messiah head coach. “We are students first. The bar has been set high for our program, and we’ve continued to reach that bar.”

The 2007-2008 award for Miller’s team was — incredibly — not the program’s best finish, as Messiah claimed top honors at the NCAA Division III level following both the 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 seasons. The Falcons have appeared in the WBCA Top 25 Academic Team Honor Roll in nine of the 11 years it has existed, settling in the top six eight times.

Messiah was the only team to combine such a high level of athletic and academic success this year, serving as the only team in the WBCA Top 25 Academic Honor Roll that finished with a Top 10 ranking in both the final USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Poll (second overall) and D3hoops.com Top 25 ballot (third overall). Simpson College (#11/#10) finished with the seventh-best GPA in the nation, while Middle-Atlantic Conference Freedom member DeSales University (#20/#18) boasted the 17th-highest GPA. The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (#23/#24) was the only other Top 25 team to make the academic honor roll, finishing 12th overall.

“What is great,” Miller said, “is that this has been going on for the last 11 years here. It’s not just a one-class thing. We have been fortunate to recruit and coach young people with a desire to be excellent in all facets of life.”

Senior Gwen Avery and junior Katie Kalb highlighted an impressive list of grades for Messiah’s club in 2007-2008, each finishing with 4.0 GPA’s in both the fall and spring semesters. Freshman Michelle Schleich recorded a 4.0 in the fall to complement a 3.944 spring semester finish, while seniors Nikki Lobach, Amy Reed and Lauren Schurr each finished their college careers with 4.0 spring-semester marks.

The WBCA Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll was initiated following the 1997-1998 season, and awards teams throughout the nation that carry the highest grade point averages (GPA) for the entire season based on the nomination submitted by WBCA-member head coaches. South Dakota State University captured the NCAA Division I top slot with a 3.669 team GPA, while the University of South Dakota earned top honors at the NCAA Division II level with a 3.649 GPA. Concordia (Nebraska) University (3.667) was the best NAIA finish, while Seward County Community College (3.560) claimed the junior college/community college honor.

Complete, top 25 lists are included in a detailed press release from the WBCA. The 11-year history of the award is also available at the WBCA’s website. A look at Messiah’s finishes:

Messiah College — WBCA Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll History
Season — Ranking (Team GPA)

2007-2008 — 2nd (3.627)
2006-2007 — 3rd (3.582)
2005-2006 — NR
2004-2005 — 2nd (3.715)
2003-2004 — 6th (3.510)
2002-2003 — 6th (3.460)
2001-2002 — 1st (3.733)
2000-2001 — 1st (3.712)
1999-2000 — NR
1998-1999 — 25th (3.302)
1997-1998 — 6th (3.483)