Washington State tabbed to finish 10th in Pac-12 coaches preseason media poll.
On the heels of its most successful season, the Washington women’s basketball team has been picked by Pac-12 coaches to finish the 2016-17 season third in the conference’s preseason poll – it’s highest ranking since the 2003-04 season.
The Huskies return senior starters Kelsey Plum, Chantel Osahor and Katie Collier from a team that made its first NCAA Final Four appearance. Last season UW finished fifth in the Pac-12 at 11-7 and 26-11 – the most wins since 1990.
Plum, a preseason All-American, broke Washington’s all-time scoring record (2,418 points) while leading the nation in free throws made (266) and minutes played (1,414) last season. She’s averaging 23.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists during her career and ranks No. 7 on the Pac-12’s all-time scoring list.
Osahor set the Washington single-season rebounding record with 417 last season. She is one of two returning Pac-12 players to average a double-double (10.1 points and 11.3 rebounds) in 2015-16.
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Collier, who started all 37 games, led UW with 41 blocks last season. The 6-3 forward/center averaged 6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks.
Washington returns five other letterwinners (Deja Strother, Kelli Kingma, Mackenzie Wieburg, Hannah Johnson, and Jenna Moser) and brings in a quintet of players that includes Nebraska transfer Natalie Romeo and freshmen GiGi Garcia, Mai-Loni Henson, Aarion McDonald and Amber Melgoza.
Last season the Pac-12 emerged as the best conference in the country with five teams advancing to the NCAA tournament, four to the Sweet 16, three to the Elite Eight and Washington and Oregon State making it to the Final Four.
Pac-12 coaches picked UCLA, which returns three starters from last season’s Sweet 16 team, to win the conference title. Stanford was tabbed second followed by UW, Arizona State, OSU and California. The bottom half of the the poll includes Oregon, Utah, USC, Washington State – which is 10th- Colorado and Arizona.
Washington hosts exhibitions against Central Washington (Oct. 29) and Concordia (Nov. 2) before the Nov. 11 season-opener against Eastern Washington at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Pac-12 women’s basketball preseason coaches poll
1. UCLA – 116 (8)
2. Stanford – 110 (2)
3. Washington – 93 (2)
4. Arizona State – 89
5. Oregon State – 81
6. California – 71
7. Oregon – 69
8. Utah – 52
9. USC – 44
10. Washington State – 31
11. Colorado – 22
12. Arizona – 14