Kiara Leslie. Photo by Sbas.
This is how State has finished in the conference over the last five years compared to how the ACC coaches picked State to finish:
2013-14: Predicted 10th ... Finished 4th
2014-15: Predicted 9th ... Finished T9th
2015-16: Predicted 9th... Finished T6th
2016-17: Predicted 7th ... Finished T4th
2017-18: Predicted 10th ... Finished T4th
Notice a trend there? It is called getting no respect especially last season. The 2013-14 season was a surprise and one cannot disparage the coaches for thinking that State would finish no better than 10th due to how the team finished in the seasons just prior to that and in view of State having a new coach. The Blue Ribbon panel and ACC head coaches both picked State to finish 4th this season behind Notre Dame, Louisville and Syracuse and ahead of Duke and Miami (either 5th or 6th depending on the panel or coaches poll). Picking State to finish 4th is not unreasonable (4th-6th would be resonable).
So where does the slap in the face occur? Take a look at the preseason All-ACC team. Notice anyone missing?
Ogunbowale is joined on both the 2018-19 Blue Ribbon Panel and the Coaches' Preseason All-ACC teams by 2017-18 ACC Player of the Year Asia Durr of Louisville, North Carolina's Janelle Bailey and Paris Kea, Notre Dame teammates Marina Mabrey, Jessica Shepard and Brianna Turner, Syracuse's Tiana Mangakahia, Virginia Tech's Taylor Emery and Wake Forest's Elisa Penna. From the ACC.com.
Missing from that list is a State player. Specifically missing from that list is Kiara Leslie. I watched Kiara shutdown among other players Asia Durr, Paris Kea and Lexie Brown. O.K., one might say that shows she can defend but being All-ACC requires all around play. One would counter by pointing out Kiara's play in the NCAA tournament where she was the best player on the court against powerhouse Maryland and one of the best two or three players on the court if not the best against Mississippi State who made the final four for the second year in a row. Kiara scored a game high 27 points against Mississippi State on 8-13 shooting and was named to the Kansas City regional All-Tournament Team. Leslie against Maryland in the round of 32 scored 21 points on 7-14 from the floor and added 11 boards. Kiara despite guarding the opposing team's best player whether it be Durr, Kea or Brown was second in scoring and rebounding for State with a 12.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
One would think that Kiara's performances on the biggest stage, the NCAA tournament, would have opened eyes wide shut, but one guesses not. What does a girl have to do? To finish, I know Notre Dame is going to be good, but four of five starters on the preseason All-ACC team! Gimme a break! And. The team picked to finish 4th has no one on that team! Give me a second break!