Oct. 10, 2006
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - The University of San Diego women's basketball team was tabbed to finish sixth in the 2006-07 West Coast Conference preseason poll, as selected by the conference coaches.
Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine were chosen as the favorites to claim the WCC women's basketball title. The Waves, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time last season after capturing the WCC Tournament title, received four first place votes and totaled 57 overall points, while the Lions garnered a pair of first place votes, and also received 57 total points to tie Pepperdine for the first place spot in the annual coaches poll. It marks the second straight season that the Lions have been tabbed as the league's preseason favorite.
Headlining the group of Pepperdine returners is a pair of All-WCC performers in senior Jasmane Clarendon and junior Daphanie Kennedy. Clarendon was Pepperdine's top rebounder last season (6.9 rpg), while Kennedy, who captured WCC Tournament MVP honors in 2006, ranked sixth in the conference in scoring (12.6 ppg) a year ago. Joining the pair in Pepperdine's cast of 11 returning letterwinners are 2006 WCC All-Freshman team selection Jessica Ross (5.2 ppg), and junior forward Teiosha George (8.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg).
Loyola Marymount turned in a 17-12 record and a 10-4 mark in conference play last season to finish third in the WCC, marking the third straight year that LMU has finished among the top three in the league standings. The Lions return last season's WCC Newcomer of the Year in forward Ashlee Dunlap (11.0 ppg, 10.2 rpg), the only conference player to average a double-double on the year, as well as All-WCC honorable mention selection Amanda Patton, who set the LMU single-season record with 67 3-pointers made in 2005-06.
Gonzaga, the 2006 WCC regular season co-champion, was picked third with 53 points and received the remaining two first place votes. The Bulldogs return senior Stephanie Hawk (12.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg), who was tabbed for All-WCC recognition as a junior, and feature a solid backcourt that includes senior Katy Ridenour (6.7 ppg) and WCC All-Freshman team selection Jami Bjorklund (7.5 ppg).
Santa Clara, led by 2005-06 WCC Coach of the Year Michelle Bento-Jackson, checked in at No. 4 with 33 points after sharing the WCC regular season title and earning a bid to the WNIT last year. The Broncos' returning group is headlined by Chandice Cronk (11.0 ppg), who led the WCC with a .451 (60-for-133) 3-point field goal percentage, and veteran guards Tracey Walker (8.5 ppg) and Ashley Graham (6.4 ppg).
Saint Mary's was selected for a fifth place finish with 28 points, and welcomes back four All-WCC honorable mention performers from a year ago, including guard Jontelle Smith (11.9 ppg), who ranked first among conference freshmen in scoring last season.
San Diego, picked sixth with 24 points, features guard Amanda Rego (7.1 ppg), the WCC leader in both steals (3.6 spg) and assists (3.8 apg) last season, in addition to a pair of outstanding centers in Sabine Loewe (7.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Amber Sprague (14.5 ppg in 2004-05).
San Francisco, voted seventh with 23 points, brings back the conference's top returning scorer in two-time All-WCC selection Dominique Carter (13.9 ppg), while Portland rounds out the poll at No. 8 with 13 points, and will be led by All-WCC honorable mention selection Rachel Warren (12.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg), the conference's leader in blocks (1.5 bpg) last season.