Oct. 20, 2011
WALNUT CREEK, Calif.-- The Washington State women's basketball team was picked to finish seventh in the 2011-12 Pac-12 Preseason Coaches' Poll, Commissioner Larry Scott announced today.
The Cougars return 10 players, including four starters off of last year's club that posted the most conference wins, the highest scoring average and highest shooting percentage since 2000-01. WSU tied for seventh last season, posting their highest finish in the conference standings since the 1997-98 campaign. 2010-11 All-conference honorable mention selections guard Jazmine Perkins and forward Sage Romberg both return for the Cougs along with all-freshmen team honorable mention honoree guard Ireti Amojo.
Collecting the maximum number of points (121) and first-place votes (11) was STANFORD, who was picked the preseason favorite for the 11th year in a row by the coaches to win the Pac-12 title. Receiving one first-place vote and second in the polling was USC (111), and CALIFORNIA was third with 98 points.
The Cardinal have claimed the regular-season Conference crown the last 11 years and are under the direction of recent Naismith Hall of Fame inductee Tara VanDerveer, who is entering her 26th year at the Stanford helm.
After advancing to the WNIT Championship last season, USC comes back with two all-conference performers in senior Briana Gilbreath and Ashley Corral.
The next three teams in the poll will have first-year head coaches roaming the sidelines. The Golden Bears look to re-bound under first-year head coach Lindsay Gottlieb, after finishing with a sub-.500 Conference record for the first time last year since 2004-05.
UCLA is fourth in the polling with 83 points. Finishing second in the league last year and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year, the Bruins look to continue their recent successes under first-year head coach Cori Close.
ARIZONA STATE garnered 68 points to place fourth. Though the Sun Devils have a different coach on the sidelines this season, it should be a smooth transition for them with interim head coach Joseph Anders having been with the program for 11 years as a member of the staff.
Newcomer UTAH rounds out the top half of the coaches' poll, collecting 61 points. In his first year last season, head coach Anthony Levrets led the Utes to the first round of the NCAA Tournament and the team's seventh Mountain West Conference regular-season crown.
WASHINGTON STATE is seventh with 59 points. OREGON is eighth with 51 points, followed by ARIZONA (48) and WASHINGTON (38). The Ducks welcome back Nia Jackson, who was the Conference's leading scorer before sitting out the last nine games of the season due to injury. The Huskies have a new coach on the side-lines, as well. Head coach Kevin McGuff had a very successful stint at Xavier, leading the Musketeers to the NCAA Elite Eight in 2010. And the Wildcats lose the league's Defensive Player of the Year in Ify Ibekwe, but return two-time all-conference performer Davellyn Whyte (Phoenix, Ariz.).
The final two teams in the poll are COLORADO (36) in 11th and OREGON STATE (18) in 12th. The Buffs look to bounce back from a tough season, while the Beavers, though finishing last in the league, were competitive in nearly every game, losing 22 contests by 10 points or less.
A Pac-12 preseason coaches' poll has been administered since the 1998-99 season. Following are the results of the 2011 preseason coaches' poll; coaches are not allowed to vote for their owns teams (1st-place votes in parentheses).
2011-12 PAC-12 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACHES' POLL
1. Stanford (11) 121
2. USC (1) 111
3. California 98
4. UCLA 83
5. Arizona State 68
6. Utah 61
7. Washington State 59
8. Oregon 51
9. Arizona 48
10. Washington 38
11. Colorado 36
12. Oregon State 18