No. 41: North Texas men, Coastal Carolina women

Team flags at Karsten Creek for the NCAA Championship

Team flags at Karsten Creek for the NCAA Championship

Women's Rankings »

RankNameSchoolRating
1Alison LeeUCLA  69.68 
2Annie ParkUSC  69.98 
3Gaby LopezArkansas  70.08 
4Yu LiuDuke  70.13 
5Stephanie MeadowAlabama  70.15 

Women's Team Rankings »

RankNameRatingEvents
1Southern California 70.56  10 
2UCLA 70.68 
3Duke 70.79 
4Stanford 71.56  10 
5Arkansas 71.66 

Men's Rankings »

RankNameSchoolRating
1Joey GarberGeorgia  68.65 
2Robby SheltonAlabama  68.65 
3Patrick RodgersStanford  68.71 
4Ollie SchniederjansGA Tech  68.85 
5Cameron WilsonStanford  69.10 

Men's Team Rankings »

RankNameRatingEvents
1Alabama 68.97 
2Georgia Tech 69.68 
3Georgia 69.68 
4Oklahoma State 69.77  10 
5California 69.86  11 

College golf is just a few short weeks away. To get you ready, Asher Wildman is breaking down the top 60 men's and women's teams. Today, it's No. 41 on the board with the North Texas men and Coastal Carolina women.

•••

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NORTH TEXAS MEN

2010-11 final ranking: 41

Coach: Brad Stracke (third year)

Top returnees: Roldofo Cazaubon, Carlos Ortiz

Top newcomers: Freshman Juan Munoz of Columbia and freshman Jason Roets of South Africa

Projected starting 5: Rodolfo Cazaubon (Jr.), Carlos Ortiz (Jr.), other spots TBA.

Key losses: None

Key fall tournament: Golfweek Conference Challenge

2010-11 recap: In its second year under coach Brad Stracke, North Texas took a giant leap forward in its resurrection from the depths of the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. The Mean Green were in the top 25 for part of the spring season and earned an NCAA postseason bid for the first time since 2003. North Texas had finished the 2008-09 season ranked 143rd before Stracke took over the program, then improved to 79th in his first season (2009-10).

In 10 regular-season starts last season, the Mean Green finished in the top 5 nine times, with the only exception an eighth-place showing at the Border Olympics. Their season ended with a ninth-place finish at NCAA regionals.

“This program is moving in the right direction,” Stracke said. “I felt we had the talent to get to nationals, but (we) just came up a bit short.”

UNT’s season came to an end last year with a ninth-place finish at the NCAA San Diego Regional.

Player to watch: Carlos Ortiz. Said Stracke: “He was just about top 10 in every stat (nationally). . . . He has a solid short game and ballstriking. He needs to work on being comfortable when playing, and if he can do that, the sky is the limit.”

Season preview: North Texas isn’t quite back to its glory days – the school won four consecutive national championships from 1949 to ’52 – but the team has made major strides the past two seasons. One reason Stracke is excited about this season is the fact that he has players coming back with loads experience. “My first year here we had three seniors, then they were gone,” Stracke said. “ The next year, we had three more seniors. This year, we have starters coming back, which is refreshing.”

The 1-2 punch expected to lead the way are juniors Rodolfo Cazuabon and Carlos Ortiz. “Two great ballstrikers and straight off the tee,” Stracke said. “They developed a lot last year, and I’m hoping that trend continues.”

The rest of the starters will be determined in the fall, competition that should make North Texas better. In two years under Stracke, the team has climbed 102 spots in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. The team may be able to take another vault because of a tougher schedule. Last year, the Mean Green had the 109th-toughest schedule; this year, it should be in or near the top 60.

Bottom line: North Texas is working its way back to being an top-25 team in college golf. Is UNT back to being a national contender like it was in the 1950s? Not quite. It is, however, a team that will make it to regionals and see if it can put together a good week that gets the Mean Green back to the NCAA Championship.

•••

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COASTAL CAROLINA WOMEN

2010-11 final ranking: 41

Coach: Katie Quinney (third year)

Top returnees: Jessica Alexander and Courtney Boe

Top newcomers: Freshman Frida Castillo of Mexico, freshman Joana Yanez of Spain

Projected starting 5: Jessica Alexander (Jr.), Courtney Boe (So.), Brittany Henderson (Jr.), Kaitlin Higginbotham (Sr.), Frida Castillo (Fr.)

Key losses: Alicia Grier

Key fall tournament: Golfweek Conference Challenge

2010-11 recap: Last season was a historic one for Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers made their first-ever NCAA Championship appearance after finishing fourth at the NCAA East Regional.

“It all started with a win to start the spring at UCF’s event,” head coach Katie Quinney said. “That gave us tons of momentum and confidence to do what we did in the postseason.”

In addition to the victory at UCF, Coastal Carolina won the Jacksonville Labor Day Shootout and then captured the Big South Conference Championship, giving them a momentum boost heading into regionals. The Chanticleers finished 24th at the NCAA finals.

Player to watch: Jessica Alexander. Said Quinney: “Last year she was real close to winning a few tournaments. She always seemed to be a round short, but this year she’ll have a little more maturity and her hard work over the summer will pay off.”

2011-2012 preview: Quinney will start the year confident about her starting lineup. The team returns four of five starters from last season, and the only one they lost was Alicia Grier, the No. 5 player. “Last year, we were really young,” Quinney said. “This year, we will have upperclassmen and consistency to the lineup.”

The only change to this year’s starting five will be the addition of freshman Frida Castillo. If the Mexico native can make a quick transition to the college game, then Coastal should have a deep starting five.

After finishing last season at No. 41 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, up 19 spots from 2009-10, Coastal is hoping for another big jump in the rankings. To do so, Coastal needs two starters in the middle of its lineup – Kaitlin Higginbotham and Brittany Henderson – “to have great years,” Quinney said. “Both of them know they can really improve a lot and could potentially be two of our best players.”

The Chanticleers will be challenged early and often. Last year, the team had the 64th-toughest schedule in the country, but this year it could rank among the 40 most difficult.

Bottom line: With the team’s top four players returning, Coastal Carolina should at least repeat its accomplishments of a year ago. Quinney has a young nucleus that played well together last season and should still be together for another year or two. The Chanticleers have shown they know how to win golf tournaments, but their overall development and consistency will be key. If each starter takes a step forward in their games, don’t be surprised to see Coastal Carolina land in the top 25 for the first time in the program’s history.

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