Pac-12 women's basketball gears up for early-season tournaments

Washington Athletics


Pac-12 teams have a busy schedule this week as the Thanksgiving holiday nears. Most teams are participating in tournaments all over the country and even some outside the U.S., including the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. After pausing to give Thanks on Thursday, Friday has a full slate of games, including two top-25 matchups. No. 16/15 CALIFORNIA battles No. 10/9 Texas A&M at the South Point Tournament in Las Vegas, while No. 16/18 ARIZONA STATE takes on No. 2/ South Carolina at the Raibow Wahine Showdown in Hawai’i. That same day, WASHINGTON plays No. 23 Syracuse in Las Vegas, as well ... UCLA heads to the Bahamas this week where a potential matchup against No. 3/3 Notre Dame looms on Saturday. The Bruins nearly knocked off the second-ranked Gamecocks last week ... The Huskies are one of two teams averaging over 90.0 points per game so far this season, averaging 91.2 ppg. They have had a 30+ point performer in three of their four games so far. No. 7/7 OREGON STATE leads the Conference in scoring with 96.7 ppg ... UCLA’s Jordin Canada was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week after leading the Bruins to a near upset of South Carolina. WASHINGTON STATE’s Borislava Hristova was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week after leading the Cougars to a 3-0 week ... Four Pac-12 teams have earned rankings this week, with the Beavers leading the way at No. 7 in both the Associated Press and USA Today/WBCA Coaches poll. STANFORD is No. 13 in the AP polling and No. 16 in the coaches, while Cal and ASU are tied at No. 16 in the writers poll and No. 15 and 18 in the coaches, respectively.

OREGON’s Jillian Alleyne has been one of the Conference’s top rebounders since arriving on campus in 2012-13, leading the Pac-12 in rebounding the last two seasons. It is not surprising then that she ranks among the great Pac-12 rebounders of all time and is second only to former three-time All-American and 2014 John R. Wooden Award winner Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford).

1. Chiney Ogwumike, STAN (2011-14)     1567
2. Jillian Alleyne, ORE (2012-pres.)    1380
3. Kayla Pedersen, STAN (2008-11)     1266
4. Jayne Appel, STAN (2007-10)    1263
5. Nnemkadi Ogwumike, STAN (2009-12)     1226

Alleyne’s total numbers are impressive, but her career average is as well. Having averaged at least 11.9 rpg every season, her career average of 14.5 rpg through three seasons would break the all-time record currently held by former UCLA standout Natalie Williams who maintained a 12.8 rpg in her career from 1991-94.

All-Star Returns
Coming off a season where five Pac-12 teams earned NCAA Tournament bids for the second-straight season, the Conference looks to be as competitive as ever thanks, in part, to the return of eight of the 15 All-Pac-12 honorees from 2014-15. Defending regular-season Pac-12 Champion OREGON STATE has the most all-Conference honorees returning, welcoming back three, including the 2014-15 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in SR C Ruth Hamblin.

Eight of the Conference teams return its leading scorer from a year ago eight also welcome back its top rebounder, including the Pac-12’s leading scorer and rebounder in SR F Chiney Ogwumike of Stanford.

Last year, the Pac-12 had five of the nation’s top 25 rebounders and they are all back this season (stats are final from the 2012-13 season): Ogwumike (12.9), Oregon’s Jillian Alleyne (11.9), California’s Gennifer Brandon (11.1), Washington’s Aminah Williams (10.8) and Utah’s Michelle Plouffe (9.4). 

The 2015-16 campaign welcomes a new face. New to the Conference is Utah’s head coach Lynne Roberts. Roberts landed in Salt Lake City by way of the University of the Pacific. Last year she was named Co-West Coast Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Tigers to a 21-10 record.

Roberts joins an impressive cast of coaches across the 12 schools with a collective 146 years of experience. Leading the way is Hall of Fame head coach Tara Van Derveer, who will be on the Stanford sideline for her 30th season and 37 years for her career. ARIZONA STATE’s Charlie Turner Thorne also boasts over 20 years of experience, entering her 22nd season as a head coach and 19th with the Sun Devils. WASHINGTON STATE head coach June Daugherty is logging her 27th season as a head coach, nine of which have been spent in Pullman. Just shy of 20 years of coaching is OREGON’s Kelly Graves, who has been on the sidelines for 19 seasons, including two in Eugene.

Teams across the country will be focused on getting to Indianapolis this season, the site of the 2016 NCAA Women’s Final Four. To get to Indy, teams will have to go through regional site at Bridgeport, Conn., Dallas, Lexington and Sioux Falls, S.D. The first and second round of the tournament will take place on 16 campus sites with the top-16 seeds hosting.

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