4 Pac-12 women's basketball teams ranked in AP preseason poll
Four Pac-12 teams are ranked in the preseason women’s basketball Associated Press Top 25 poll, with Stanford at No. 6, Cal at No. 15, Oregon State at No. 20 and UCLA at No. 23. The ACC and Big Ten have five ranked teams apiece, while the SEC and Big 12 join the Pac-12 with four ranked teams.
Apparently the AP voters think the Cardinal has enough in the backcourt (and up front) to offset the loss of Chiney Ogwumike well enough to be the No. 6 team in the country at the moment. As Stanford SID extraordinaire John Cantalupi points out, this is the ninth straight year that the Cardinal has been ranked in the preseason AP top 7. And there is indeed still plenty to like on The Farm, what with Amber Orrange and Lili Thompson in the backcourt and the Samuelson sisters bombing away from deep (don’t forget about Taylor Greenfield either; she can shoot it). Tara’s Team will see plenty of other top-10 foes in the non-conference slate, as Stanford hosts No. 1 UConn and No. 9 Texas in consecutive games and travels to No. 4 Tennessee in December. The Cardinal also plays No. 13 North Carolina in Hawai’i.
When the media thinks you have two preseason All-Pac-12 players and your coach thinks you have two first-round WNBA draft picks, expectations will not be low for your team. As such, Cal finds itself as the No. 15 preseason team in the nation in large thanks to “Corn Flakes and Milk,” or, rather, Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray. The two seniors provide the Golden Bears with an awesome one-two punch on the perimeter and in the paint. Another player to keep an eye out on is freshmen Mikayla Cowling, the No. 11 player in her recruiting class according to ESPN. That 2013 Final Four rematch against No. 12 Louisville sure is looking mighty juicy right about now – of course, you can watch in on the Pac-12 Networks (Dec. 21, 2 p.m. PT).
You can officially no longer say that the Beavers are flying under the radar as the No. 20 team in the country. After reaching the Pac-12 Tournament finals and the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament, in large part because of the play of shooters Sydney Wiese and Jamie Weisner, Oregon State is ranked for the first time since 1996 and has matched its highest preseason ranking ever (it was also ranked No. 20 in the 1995 preseason poll – thanks for the info, OSUBeavers.com). Like the Cardinal, Scott Rueck and Co. face No. 13 North Carolina and No. 4 Tennessee (both on the road), so they’ll have to earn their keep before conference play begins.
The only team in the preseason top 25 that finished last season with a losing record, the No. 23 Bruins come into the 2014-15 campaign with a lot of hype thanks to boasting the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation. While Nirra Fields and Kacy Swain will be a couple of the familiar faces in town, UCLA is a preseason top-25 team because of the likes of freshmen Jordin Canada, Recee’ Caldwell, Lajahna Drummer, Monique Billings and Kelli Hayes. These kids are gonna have to grow up fast, however, because the Bruins’ non-conference slate is, how do you say, LOADED: UCLA plays No. 13 North Carolina, No. 9 Texas and No. 16 Nebraska in a three-game stretch, and we haven’t even gotten to December yet. There, UCLA faces the top-ranked Huskies and No. 3 Notre Dame before heading into its conference opener against USC. Ambitious.
Kelly Graves’ reputation precedes him, as a .500 Oregon team from 2013-14 received five voting points, while Charli Turner Thorne’s Arizona State Sun Devils received one tally.