Sports

Stanford women predicted to finish second in Pac-12 hoops

 
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer enters the season with 1,012 career victories. Photo by Bob Drebin/isiphotos.com.

Stanford will finish in a second-place tie with Oregon in the Pac-12 Conference women's basketball race if the coaches poll plays out as announced Wednesday at Media Day by the conference.

Stanford is coming off a 32-6 season that included its 13th Final Four appearance and 12th Pac-12 tournament championship.


Destiny Graham/Arizona Athletics
UCLA, with seven first-place votes, was predicted to finish first for the second straight year.

The Pac-12 begins anew following another historic season in which a league-record seven teams earned NCAA tournament bids.

UCLA returns All-American candidates Jordin Canada and Monique Billings, who led the team to a second-straight NCAA Sweet 16 last season. It was the first time the Bruins had made back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16 appearances in the history of the program.

The Ducks received three first-place votes in the poll. It is the highest the team has been voted since 2000-01.

Oregon returns all five starters, including the national freshman of the year Sabrina Ionescu, from a team that advanced to the program's first-ever NCAA Elite Eight.

The defending Pac-12 tournament champion Cardinal received a pair of first-place votes. Stanford returns the majority of the team that made its 13th all-time NCAA Final Four appearance last year.

Three-time Pac-12 regular-season champion Oregon State was voted to finish fourth with 85 points, edging California, who posted 83 points.

Both teams appeared in last year's NCAA tournament, the Golden Bears returning after a year's absence. They are led by All-American candidate and former national freshman of the year Kristine Anigwe.

Arizona State was voted sixth, with 74 points. The Sun Devils have been to the NCAA tournament the past four years, just the second time in program history that has occurred.

Washington State was voted to finish seventh, its best showing in the preseason coaches poll since 2011-12.

Mark Trakh returns for his second stint as coach at USC, which is predicted to place eighth in the league with 47 points. Utah (40 points) and Colorado follow (38 points). Both teams have seasoned veterans to depend on in the Utes' Emily Potter and the Buffs' Kennedy Leonard.

Arizona polled 20 points and Washington 13. The Wildcats have three letter winners back, including Eastside College Prep grad Destiny Graham, and the Huskies are under the direction of first-year head coach Jody Wynn.

Pac-12 women's basketball had two teams in the NCAA Final Four for the first time ever in 2015-16 and followed that with NCAA tournament bids last year. At least one Pac-12 team has reached the national semifinal round in nine of the last 10 years.

Ten of the 12 schools will officially tip the year off on Friday, Nov. 10, including Stanford at Ohio State for a 3 p.m. start. Washington and Arizona State open on Sunday, Nov. 12.

The Conference has administered a preseason poll every year since it began sponsoring women's sports in 1986-87.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Pac-12

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