SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The defending Big West regular-season co-champion UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team received a league-high tying 11 first place votes in the annual preseason poll released Wednesday from the conference.
The Gauchos and defending co-champ Cal Poly each received 11 first place votes in the preseason media poll, however Cal Poly received more overall votes and was picked to finish first in 2011-12 with the Gauchos just nine overall points behind.
UCSB returns Emilie Johnson, who is currently working out with Team USA, starters Kelsey Adrian and Angelei Aguirre and all-conference selections Sweets Underwood and Nicole Nesbit. Cal Poly lost Big West Player of the Year Rachel Clancy, but returns Kristina Santiago who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 2010-11 opener.
"Being recognized as one of the top teams in the Big West is an honor and also an expectation established by the tradition of so many great teams here at UCSB," said UCSB first-year head coach Carlene Mitchell. "As a coach you understand the dynamics and personality of a team may change each season with graduation or adding incoming players. Our situation is even more unique with a coaching change. Our coaching philosophy will continue to stress getting better with each practice and each game. Our focus will be to understand it's not where you start but where you end."
UC Davis received two first place votes and finished in third place with 169 total, followed by UC Riverside with 120 points. Cal State Fullerton (107) was fifth followed by UC Irvine (91), Cal State Northridge (73), Pacific (66) and Long Beach State (63).
Johnson, who was a First Team All-Big West pick last year after leading the Gauchos in scoring, was named to the preseason all-conference team. The senior from Loomis, Calif. is representing Team USA in the Pan Am Games and will return to UCSB prior to the exhibition opener on Nov. 1 vs. Vanguard.
Joining Johnson on the preseason all-conference squad is Cal Poly's Santiago and senior forward Abby Bloetscher, along with Cal State Northridge center Jasmine Erving, UC Riverside guard Tre'Shonti Nottingham and Cal State Fullerton guard Megan Richardson.
Season tickets are still available for men's and women's basketball for one low price! Click here for more information or call (805) 893-UCSB. Women's basketball fans can also join the exciting Fastbreakers group when they purchase season tickets and receive a T-shirt or tote! Click here for information. And, be sure to check out the Big West + 1 ticket package for men's basketball by clicking here. You choose either the UNLV or San Diego State home game along with the entire Big West package for one low price!
Media Poll Results
1. Cal Poly (11) 200
2. UC Santa Barbara (11) 191
3. UC Davis (2) 169
4. UC Riverside 120
5. Cal State Fullerton 107
6. UC Irvine 91
7. Cal State Northridge 73
8. Pacific 66
9. Long Beach State 63
first place votes in parentheses