Oct. 31, 2011
SAN BRUNO, Calif. -- Gonzaga University has been selected as the favorite to win the West Coast Conference women's basketball championship in a preseason poll of the WCC's nine head coaches. The Bulldogs received all eight possible first place votes in the poll (coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team). The Zags are one of two teams to have multiple selections on the Preseason All-WCC Team.
Last year, Gonzaga went 31-5, including a perfect 14-0 record in the WCC. The Bulldogs, an 11th-seed in the NCAA Tournament, advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history. The Zags upset sixth-seeded Iowa 92-86, upended number eight UCLA 89-75, and defeated seventh-seeded Louisville. Seniors Katelan Redmon and Kayla Standish lead this year's squad, and both were selected to the 2011-12 Preseason All-WCC Team. This fall, Standish and Redmon played for Team USA in the 2011 Pan American Games.
WCC newcomer Brigham Young University captured one first place vote, and was selected to finish second in the preseason poll, collecting 52 points. The Cougars advanced to the Women's NIT last year as members of the Mountain West Conference. Senior forward Kristen Riley was selected to the Preseason All-WCC team. Riley finished fourth in the MWC with a .502 field-goal percentage last season.
Pepperdine University was selected to finish third in the preseason coaches poll with 50 points. The Waves return senior guard Jazmine Jackson, who was the 2011 WCC Defensive Player of the Year. Jackson averaged 2.6 steals per game last season, which was third in the WCC.
Loyola Marymount was picked to finish fourth in the WCC with a total of 36 points. The Lions get redshirt-senior guard/forward Alex Cowling back from injury. Cowling was selected to the Preseason All-Conference team and averaged 22.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game through the first six games of last season before going down with a foot injury.
Saint Mary's finished with 34 total points in the preseason poll and was selected to finish fifth. The Gaels have made two consecutive Women's NIT appearances. Redshirt-senior guard Jasmine Smith was voted to the Preseason All-Conference team. Smith averaged 16.9 points per game last season, which was third in the conference.
Portland was picked to finish sixth in the WCC with 32 total points. The Pilots were one of two teams with multiple selections on the Preseason All-WCC team. Seniors Natalie Day and ReZina TecleMariam were voted onto the Preseason All-Conference team. Day received all-WCC recognition at the end of last season, while TecleMariam was an honorable mention.
San Diego was picked to finish seventh with 26 points, followed by Santa Clara with 22 points and San Francisco with eight points. The Toreros return senior guard Dominique Conners, who was selected to the Preseason All-WCC team. Santa Clara guard Alyssa Shoji is the Broncos' only returning senior and she finished third in the WCC with 2.1 three-point field goals per game last season.
The 2011-12 season tips off on Friday, November 11 for seven of the nine WCC teams. The 2012 Zappos.com West Coast Conference Basketball Championships will return to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas from February 29-March 5. As the season approaches, check WCCsports.com each weekday for a video preview from all nine of the league's head coaches leading up to Opening Day.
2011-12 WEST COAST CONFERENCE PRESEASON POLL
Team (First Place Votes),Points
1. Gonzaga University (8),64
2. Brigham Young University (1),52
3. Pepperdine University,50
4. Loyola Marymount University,36
5. Saint Mary's College,34
6. University of Portland,32
7. University of San Diego,26
8. Santa Clara University,22
9. University of San Francisco,8
2011-12 PRESEASON ALL-WEST COAST CONFERENCE TEAM
Alex Cowling,Loyola Marymount,RS-Jr., G/F
Kristen Riley,Brigham Young University,Sr.,F
Alyssa Shoji,Santa Clara,Sr.,G
Jasmine Smith,Saint Mary's,RS-Sr.,G
ReZina TecleMariam ,Portland,Sr.,G
Note: Team listed alphabetically