Oct. 11, 2006
SAN BRUNO, CA - Two-time defending West Coast Conference regular-season champion Gonzaga University has been picked to finish this year in a pre-season vote of the league coaches.
The Bulldogs, who went undefeated in 2005 and tied Santa Clara University for the regular-season title last year at 11-3, received two first-place votes and 53 points.
If the league coaches are right the power in the conference has shifted from the north to the south as Loyola Marymount University and Pepperdine University were chosen as the favorites to claim the West Coast Conference 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.
The Bulldogs return senior Stephanie Hawk (12.9 ppg, 7.1 rpg), who was tabbed for All-WCC recognition as a junior and voted by the coaches as one of the mtop six returnees this season. Gonzaga also features a solid backcourt that includes senior Katy Ridenour (6.7 ppg) and WCC All-Freshman team selection Jami Bjorklund (7.5 ppg).
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 2006.
Santa Clara, led by 2006 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 College 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.
The University of 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).
The University 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 the University of 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.
2006-07 WCC Women's BasketballPreseason Coaches Poll(First Place Votes In Parentheses)
1. Pepperdine (4) 57 Loyola Marymount (2) 573. Gonzaga (2) 534. Santa Clara 335. Saint Mary's 286. San Diego 247. San Francisco 238. Portland 13
2006-07 WCC Women's BasketballTop Six Returning Players(As selected by WCC Coaches)
Dominique Carter - San Francisco (13.9ppg, 5.2rpg)Jasmane Clarendon - Pepperdine (11.5ppg, 6.9rpg)Ashlee Dunlap - LMU (11.0ppg, 10.2rpg) Stephanie Hawk - Gonzaga (12.9ppg, 7.1rpg)Daphanie Kennedy - Pepperdine (12.6ppg, 5.0rpg)Rachel Warren - Portland (12.4ppg, 7.5rpg)