After a runner-up league finish the past two seasons, Luther College is the coaches' pick to win the 2018-19 American Rivers Conference title. The Norse earned 63 points in the poll, recording seven of the nine first-place votes. Luther College last claimed a conference title in 2015-16. Wartburg, the reigning regular season and conference tournament champions were picked second in the poll with 58 points. The Knights received the remaining two first-place votes. Coaches are not permitted to vote for their own teams.
Head Coach Amanda Bailey, who begins her eighth season, returns four starters from last year's squad that posted a league finish of 12-4, 19-10 overall. During her tenure, she has led Luther to an overall record of 109-79. In 2014-15 she was named the conference Coach of the Year. That year, she led the Norse to the conference tournament championship, and an appearance in the NCAA III National Tournament. Including last year, Luther has advanced to the conference tournament championship game four years in a row.
Top returners for the Norse are senior forwards Claire Marburger (Perry, Iowa) and Madison Spence (Glenwood Springs, Colo.), junior forward Laura Hamilton (Minnetonka, Minn./Chanhassen) and junior guard Sarah Holtz (Austin, Minn./Pacelli Catholic).
Marburger joined the Norse last season after transferring from Central College. She was named all-conference for the third time of her career and has scored 1,393 points. Last year, she led the team in points per game (16.8) and rebounds per game (6.9).
Hamilton was named the league's Defensive Player of the Year last season. She finished fourth on the team in scoring (10.3), third in rebounding (5.6) and led the team in assists (4.1) and steals (2.6) per game.
Spence was an honorable mention all-conference selection a year ago. She was second on the team in points per game (9.6) and rebounds per game (6.1) and led the team with a field goal shooting percentage of (.506).
Holtz saw most of her action off the bench, but did make 10 starts last season. She finished third on the team in scoring per game (9.4) and fourth in rebounding per game (4.2).
Luther begins the 2018-19 campaign at the UW-Stevens Point Tip-Off Tournament Nov. 16-17. Luther's first home game will be Nov. 24 versus Gustavus Adolphus College.