Oct. 10, 2007
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Defending West Coast Conference Tournament Champion Gonzaga University has been picked to finish second this year in a preseason vote of the league coaches. The Bulldogs garnered three first place votes, and received 55 total points to finish second in the annual coaches poll.
San Diego was chosen as the favorite to claim the WCC women's basketball title, edging out the Zags who are three-time WCC regular-season champions. The Toreros, who set a program record with 21 wins and hosted a WNIT contest for the first time last season, received four first place votes and totaled 58 overall points.
Gonzaga is coming off of its first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history after claiming its first WCC Tournament title in March. Head Coach Kelly Graves, who was tabbed for WCC-Co Coach of the Year honors in 2007, welcomes back three starts and seven letterwinners, including 2006-07 Newcomer of the Year Heather Bowman. Bowman, who was voted by the coaches as one of the top six returnees this season, led the conference in scoring win WCC contests (16.3 ppg), and capped off her freshman season by earning WCC Tournament MVP honors. Also returning to the GU lineup is senior Rachel Kane (3.8 apg), senior Michelle Elliott (9.5 ppg) and junior Jami Bjorklund (9.0 ppg).
Headlining the group of San Diego returners is 2006-07 WCC Co-Player of the Year Amanda Rego, and All-WCC first team selection Amber Sprague. Rego became the first Torero to garner the league's top honor after leading the nation in assists (7.7 apg) and pacing the circuit in steals (2.77 spg) for the second straight season. Sprague received All-WCC accolades after ranking in the conference's top-three in both scoring (14.6 ppg-3rd) and rebounding (7.9 rpg-2nd). Also returning for Cindy Fisher, the 2006-07 WCC Co-Coach of the Year, is WCC All-Freshman selection Morgan Henderson (8.6 ppg) and junior guard Kelly Winther (10.9 ppg).
Pepperdine was picked third with 45 points, and looks to bounce back from an injury-riddled 2006-07 campaign. The Waves welcome back center Teena Wickett (10.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg), who garnered All-WCC first team and All-Freshman honors a year ago, along with senior guard Daphanie Kennedy (10.7 ppg), who missed seven games due to injury last season.
Loyola Marymount garnered the final first place vote and 44 overall points in the poll, and returns three starters from a team that went 19-12 overall and 9-5 in conference play last year. Senior Amanda DeCoud (9.0 ppg) received WCC Defensive Player of the Year honors last season, and backcourt mate Cassady Moore is back (6.4 ppg) after seeing action in all 31 games a year ago.
Saint Mary's was selected for a fifth place finish with 29 overall points and brings back four starters, including first team All-WCC guard Jontelle Smith (11.7 ppg), and WCC honorable mention selection Maija Lahde (10.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg).
San Francisco, picked sixth with 22 points, features senior guard Dominique Carter (14.4 ppg), who looks to become just the second player in WCC history to earn four All-WCC first team honors. Also returning for USF is All-WCC honorable mention guard Shay Rollins (10.7 ppg).
Santa Clara, voted seventh with 19 points, welcomes back senior guard Chandice Cronk, who paced the WCC with 16.0 points per game a year ago and broke the conference's single-season record with 94 three-pointers as a junior.
Portland rounds out the poll at No. 8 with 16 points despite the return of All-WCC first team selection Laiken Dollente (15.2 ppg), and senior center Rachel Warren (10.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg).
2007-08 WCC Women's Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. San Diego - 58 (4)
2. Gonzaga - 55 (3)
3. Pepperdine - 45
4. Loyola Marymount - 44 (1)
5. Saint Mary's - 29
6. San Francisco - 22
7. Santa Clara - 19
8. Portland - 16
(First place votes)
2007-08 WCC Women's Basketball Top Six Returning Players*
Heather Bowman - Gonzaga (13.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
Dominique Carter - San Francisco (14.4ppg, 5.3rpg)
Daphanie Kennedy - Pepperdine (10.7ppg, 3.6rpg)
Amanda Rego - San Diego (9.1 ppg, 7.7 apg, 2.8 spg)
Amber Sprague - San Diego (14.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg)
Teena Wickett - Pepperdine (10.3ppg, 7.5rpg)
(*as selected by conference coaches)