Three Pac-12 Teams Ranked In Preseason
WALNUT CREEK, Calif.— STANFORD and USC were ranked in the top 25 of the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls, both of which were recently released. UCLA also received top-25 recognition in the AP rankings. The Cardinal leads the way for the Pac-12, with the coaches and writers both ranking it No. 5 in the country.
Led by Hall of Famer Tara VanDerveer, the Cardinal was also picked to be the preseason favorite to win the Pac-12 crown in a voting of the league's coaches. She welcomes back All-American and two-time all-conference pick Nne-mkadi Ogwumike (Cypress, Texas), as well as the Conference's Newcomer of the Year last year, Nnemkadi's sister Chiney Ogwumike (Cypress, Texas). Stanford advanced to the NCAA Women's Final Four for the fourth-consecutive year last season.
USC was ranked No. 23 by both the AP and coaches. Under the direction of third-year head coach Michael Cooper, the Women of Troy return the core of their team, including seniors Ashley Corral (Vancouver, Wash.), Briana Gilbreath (Katy, Texas) and Jacki Gemelos (Stockton, Calif.). Gilbreath is a three-time all-conference selection and Corral was all-league for the second time last year. USC advanced to the championship game of the WNIT last season and finished tied for fourth in the Conference.
Tabbed 22nd in the writer's poll and receiving votes in the coaches ranking, UCLA had back-to-back seasons of ad-vancing to the NCAA Tournament and finishing second in the Pac-10. Under new coach Cori Close, the Bruins look to continue that success, although without all-conference performer Jasmine Dixon (Long Beach, Calif.), who has been sidelined for the season due to injury.
CALIFORNIA, who is also under the direction of a new coach, received votes in both rankings. The Golden Bears were picked to finish fourth in the league in 2011-12 by the Pac-12 coaches.