October 27, 2010
SAN BRUNO, CA --- Gonzaga was chosen as the favorite to claim the West Coast Conference women's basketball title for the third straight year in the 2010-11 preseason coaches poll. The Bulldogs, who received the maximum seven first place votes for a total of 49 points, won the 2010 WCC Zappos.com Championships and earned their third-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament and advanced to their first ever Sweet 16 appearance. As a 7th seed, Gonzaga upended No. 10 seeded North Carolina in the first round, 82-76, upset No. 2 Texas A&M, 72-71, in the second round, and nearly accomplished the same feat against No. 3 seeded Xavier, losing 74-56.
Headlining the group of Gonzaga returners are two-time WCC Player of the Year and two-time WCC Tournament MVP senior Courtney Vandersloot as well as 2010-11 Preseason All-Conference selections senior guard/forward Janelle Bekkering and junior Katelan Redmon. Vandersloot led the nation last season with 9.4 assists per game and also became the WCC and Gonzaga career assists leader with 751. In addition to All-WCC honors, she was also named to this year's Wooden Award Watch List, becoming just the second Bulldog in school history to be nominated for the award in back-to-back seasons. Former Zag Heather Bowman is the only other player to make the prestigious list twice, earning the nod in 2008 and 2009.
Saint Mary's received the remaining first place vote and totaled 43 points to finish second. Coming off of a stellar 21-win season and an NIT appearance, the Gaels will be led by two-time defending WCC Defender of the Year and 2010-11 Preseason All-Conference selection senior Louella Tomlinson. She returns after averaging 16.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 6.3 blocks per game. Her 195 blocks set the school record for the third consecutive year while setting two NCAA D-I blocked shot records.
Pepperdine, which finished third in this year's poll with 36 points, returns four starters from last year's team that finished second in the 2010 WCC Zappos.com Championships and made an NIT appearance, highlighted by Preseason All-Conference selection junior Jazmine Jackson. Jackson averaged 11.5 points per game last season and is the team's highest-scoring returner.
Loyola Marymount, Portland and San Diego were separated by a total of three points for picks four, five, and six, respectively. LMU received a total of 27 points and they return 2010-11 Preseason All-Conference selections senior Renahy Young and junior Alex Cowling. Young became the 11th player in school history to score 1,000 career points last season. Cowling shattered the school's single-season scoring mark last year, pouring in 526 points to top the previous record of 492 set by Kate Murray in 2003-04. Portland, who was picked to finish fifth in the WCC with 25 points, is fresh off of an appearance in the inaugural 16-team Women's Basketball Invitational, marking their second straight postseasonappearance. San Diego received 24 points and is led by 2010-11 Preseason All-Conference selection junior Dominique Conners, who led the team with 16.3 points per game last season.
Santa Clara was selected to finish seventh this season, with 12 points. Redshirt senior Lena Gipson is the team's representative on the Preseason All-Conference team. Gipson is one of just two players in Santa Clara history to post two seasons of 300-plus rebounds. San Francisco rounds out this year's poll with eight points. The Dons top returner is junior Rheina Ale, who was selected to the 2010-11 Preseason All-Conference team and led the Dons in scoring last season with 13.2 points per game. The University of San Francisco welcomes Jennifer Azzi as the head coach of the women's basketball program. A 2009 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Azzi brings an impressive playing resume featuring successful tenures with the USA National Team, five seasons in the WNBA, and an All-American collegiate career at Stanford.
Women's Basketball 2010 Preseason Poll
1. Gonzaga - 49 (7)
2. Saint Mary's - 43 (1)
3. Pepperdine - 36
4. LMU - 27
5. Portland - 25
6. San Diego - 24
7. Santa Clara - 12
8. San Francisco - 8
(First place votes)
Women's Basketball 2010 Preseason All-Conference Team
Name, School, YR, POS
Rheina Ale, USF, JR, G
Janelle Bekkering, GON, SR, G/F
Dominique Conners, USD, JR, G
Alex Cowling, LMU, JR, G/F
Lena Gipson, SCU, RS SR, F
Jazmine Jackson, PEP, JR, G
Katelan Redmon, GON, JR, G/F
Louella Tomlinson, SMC, SR, F
Courtney Vandersloot, GON, SR, G
Renahy Young, LMU, SR, G