Zags Tabbed Favorite in 2011 WCC Preseason Poll
Oct. 27, 2010
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - Gonzaga University was chosen as the favorite to claim the West Coast Conference women's basketball title for the third straight year in the 2010-11 preseason coaches poll. The Bulldogs, who received the maximum seven first place votes for a total of 49 points, won the 2010 WCC Zappos.com Championship, earned their third-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament and advanced to their first-ever Sweet Sixteen appearance. As a No. 7 seed, Gonzaga upended No. 10 seeded North Carolina in the first round 82-76, upset No. 2 Texas A&M 72-71 in the second round, before falling to No. 3 seeded- Xavier 74-56 in the regional semifinal.
Headlining the group of Gonzaga returnees are senior point guard Courtney Vandersloot, the two-time WCC Player of the Year and WCC Tournament MVP, as well as 2010-11 Preseason All-Conference selections senior guard/forward Janelle Bekkering and junior guard/forward Katelan Redmon; the reigning WCC Newcomer of the Year. Vandersloot led the nation last season with 9.4 assists per game and became the WCC and Gonzaga career assists leader with 751. In addition to All-WCC honors, she was also named to this year's Wooden Award Watch List, becoming just the second Bulldog in school history to be nominated for the award in back-to-back seasons. Former Zag Heather Bowman is the only other player to make the prestigious list twice, earning the nod in 2008 and 2009.
The Bulldogs are the only team that landed three players on the preseason all-conference list as Vandersloot, Bekkering and Redmon all earned the honor. Gonzaga returns 10 letterwinners from its 29-5, 14-0 WCC squad in 2009-10, including two starters.
Saint Mary's College received the remaining first place vote and totaled 43 points to finish second. Coming off of a 21-win season and a WNIT appearance, the Gaels will be led by two-time defending WCC Defender of the Year and 2010-11 Preseason All-Conference selection senior Louella Tomlinson. The senior returns after averaging 16.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 6.3 blocks per game. Her 195 blocks set the school record for the third consecutive year while setting two NCAA D-I blocked shot records.
Pepperdine, which finished third in this year's poll with 36 points, returns four starters from last year's team that finished second in the 2010 WCC Zappos.com Championship and made a WNIT appearance, highlighted by Preseason All-Conference selection Jazmine Jackson. Jackson, a junior, averaged 11.5 points per game last season and is the team's highest-scoring returner.
Loyola Marymount, Portland and San Diego were separated by a total of three points for picks four, five, and six, respectively. LMU received a total of 27 points and they return 2010-11 Preseason All-Conference selections senior Renahy Young and junior Alex Cowling. Portland, who was picked to finish fifth in the WCC with 25 points, is fresh off of an appearance in the inaugural 16-team Women's Basketball Invitational, marking their second straight postseason appearance. San Diego received 24 points and is led by 2010-11 Preseason All-Conference selection junior Dominique Conners, who led the team with 16.3 points per game last season.
Santa Clara was selected to finish seventh this season, with 12 points. Redshirt senior Lena Gipson is the team's representative on the Preseason All-Conference team.
San Francisco rounds out this year's poll with eight points. The Dons top returner is junior Rheina Ale, who was selected to the 2010-11 Preseason All-Conference team and led the Dons in scoring last season with 13.2 points per game.
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