Rise And Fire: Women's Basketball Looks To #StartBig
Big West Women's Basketball Weekly Release No. 1
The 238-day wait will come to an end Friday as the sound of basketball comes alive in the Big West. The nine women's teams are all in action this weekend, headlined by defending Tournament champion Hawai'i visiting USC and Cal Poly heading to the Bay Area to take on #10 Stanford.
Around The Big West
LBSU NAMED PRESEASON FAVORITE
Long Beach State finds itself in the eye of the coaches and media this preseason as the club was selected as the league favorite in polls conducted with both groups.
The 49ers claimed 73 points and five first place votes in the coaches poll, while also collecting 157 points and nine first place votes in the media ballot. The club returns a wealth of talent led by 2016 first team All-Big West pick senior Raven Benton. In all, LBSU returns five starters and 10 letterwinners from a group that won 24 games and advanced to the WNIT.
TWINNING PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE
The coaches and media also selected the same six players for the preseason All-Conference team. Benton was joined by UC Davis sophomore Morgan Bertsch, CSUN sophomore Channon Fluker, UC Riverside senior Réjane Vérin and the Cal Poly duo of junior Dynn Leaupepe and senior Hannah Gilbert.
NEW FACE ON THE SIDELINE
UC Irvine has a new direction on the sideline as Tamara Inoue was named head coach. She is the ninth head coach in UCI history and comes to the Bren from New Mexico State. At NMSU, Inoue was associate head coach for a club that has reached the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons. She also is a Big West alum as she played at Long Beach State from 2000-2002 after transferring from California.
NEARING GRAND STATUS
Barring unforeseen circumstances, four players are leading the charge into the 1,000-point club this season.
UC Riverside senior Simone DeCoud is tops on the list with 948 points, while Long Beach State senior Anna Kim (799) and Gilbert (740) should join the list by season’s end. Another player to keep an eye on is Verin as she put up 544 points last year, her first with UCR after transferring from UNLV.
UCSB LOOKING TO KEEP MOMENTUM
UC Santa Barbara was among the nation’s most improved teams a year ago, the first season on the sidelines for Bonnie Henrickson. The Gauchos won 10 more games last year than in the previous season, ranking in the top 15 on the NCAA’s most improved list. The club also won its first postseason game in three years, a first round win in the Big West Tournament.
CSUN sophomore Channon Fluker is looking to continue the form that netted her Freshman of the Year accolades. Fluker averaged 13.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per outing a year ago. Conference play saw her averages juump to 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.
TOUGH ROAD AHEAD
Defending Tournament champion Hawai’i enters its title defense with just five returning letterwinners and nine newcomers. The club also play a challenging non-conference schedule that includes road contests against USC, UCLA, Nevada and Boise State. The seven-game non-league home slate also includes matchups against New Mexico State, Mississippi State and Oregon.
Follow Along All Season