Nov. 2, 2005
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - If Big West Conference coaches and media members are accurate prognosticators, then the UC Santa Barbara women's basketball team will win its unprecedented 11th consecutive regular season league title in 2005-06.
In votes conducted Wednesday at the Big West's annual media day in Irvine, Calif., six of the eight conference coaches picked UCSB to earn yet another crown this season. The Gauchos received 46 total points, just three ahead of Long Beach State which received the two remaining first place nods. Cal State Northridge was tabbed third, followed by UC Riverside, UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly and Pacific. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. The Big West is down to an eight-team league this season following the departure of Idaho and Utah State for the Western Athletic Conference.
Meanwhile the media members in attendance also predicted Santa Barbara will defend its title this season as the Gauchos received nine out of 10 first-place votes. The media poll mirrored the coaches' in predicted order of finish, with Long Beach State garnering the other first-place tally.
For the fourth straight year, a Preseason All-Big West Team was selected by the media, and for the fourth straight year a UCSB player was included. Redshirt sophomore center Jenna Green earned a spot on the six-player squad despite missing all but three games in 2004-05 due to a torn left medial collateral ligament. The San Jose, Calif., native averaged 13.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 65.5% percent shooting prior to her injury, and was a Big West All-Freshman Team selection in 2003-04 while helping Santa Barbara reach the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.
In addition to Green, the Gauchos return two starters and five other letterwinners from their 2004-05 squad that posted a 21-9 overall record - 16-2 league in league play - and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for a ninth straight year. UCSB also welcomes three newcomers as it attempts to extend the longest current streak of consecutive conference titles by any team in the country to 11. Santa Barbara's .804 winning percentage (205 wins, 50 losses) since the start of the 1997-98 campaign ranks fifth-best nationally over that span.
UCSB takes the court for the first time this Sunday, Nov. 6 for an exhibition contest against Cal State Bakersfield in the Thunderdome at 2:00 p.m. All fans who fill out a voucher available via www.ucsbgauchos.com or at Sunday's game will receive free admission.