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Oregon State picked by coaches to win Pac-12 in 2015-16

Karl Maasdam/Oregon State Athletics

SAN FRANCISCO - For the first time in the history of the poll, the league’s coaches selected Oregon State to win the 2015-16 regular season, the Conference office announced on Wednesday at Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Media Day. The Beavers received the maximum first place votes with 11 and 121 total points. STANFORD, which had been voted to win the Conference 15-consecutive years prior to this year, collected 104 points for second in the polling, followed by ARIZONA STATE, which placed third with 102 points and one first-place vote.

A coaches’ poll has been administered since the Conference began sponsoring women’s sports in 1986-87 (six years of data are missing) and it is the first time the Beavers find themselves at the top after winning the regular season for the first time in the history of the program last year. 2015 Pac-12 Coach of the Year Scott Rueck returns four starters, including Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Ruth Hamblin.

The Cardinal will be playing underdog for the first time in 16 years but will still be a strong contender for the title. Last year, Stanford tied for third after the regular season, its lowest finish since 1999, but went on to win its 11th all-time tournament crown. With Hall of Fame head coach Tara VanDerveer entering her 30th season, the Cardinal also have All-Pac-12 performer junior Lili Thompson to help lead the team.

The Sun Devils were second in the Conference last year, just one game out of first place. ASU has found its consistency after missing out on the NCAA Tournament three of four years, but reached the Sweet Sixteen last year in its second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

Each with 88 points, CALIFORNIA and UCLA tied for fourth in the polling. The Golden Bears have a lot to make up for with the losses of key contributors, including All-American Brittany Boyd and Pac-12 Player of the Year Reshanda Gray, but have two starters returning. The Bruins finished the season strong, claiming the WNIT crown. Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Jordin Canada was part of the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation and after a year under their belts, look to move up the standings.

WASHINGTON was picked sixth in the poll, polling 68 points. The Huskies welcome back Kelsey Plum, one of the most prolific scorers in the nation since arriving on campus three years ago. She hopes to lead UW to a second-straight NCAA Tournament. USC’s 60 points were good for seventh and are two years removed from a surprise run to claim the Pac-12 Tournament crown in 2013.

OREGON is eighth in the poll with 52 points. Under the direction of second-year head coach Kelly Graves and one of the Conference’s all-time top rebounders in Jillian Alleyne returning, the Ducks look to be much improved. The coaches voted COLORADO ninth with 39 points, followed by WASHINGTON STATE, with 30 points. The Buffs have a young squad with just one senior on the team, while the Cougars will be looking to replace two all-Conference performers after Lia Galdeira decided to forgo her senior campaign.

Rounding out the poll are UTAH, in 11th place with 23 points. The Utes are under the direction of a new head coach in Lynne Roberts. ARIZONA is 12th with 17 points and look to have better luck staying injury-free in order to see improvement.

A Pac-12 preseason coaches’ poll has been administered every season since the Conference began sponsoring the sport in 1986-87. Following are the results of the 2015 Pac-12 preseason coaches’ poll; coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams (points: 11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, first-place votes in parentheses).

Team (First Place Votes) Points
1. Oregon State (11) 121
2. Stanford 104
3. Arizona State (1) 102
T-4. California 88
T-4. UCLA 88
6. Washington 68
7. USC 60
8. Oregon 52
9. Colorado 39
10. Washington State 30
11. Utah 23
12. Arizona 17
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