Women's Hoops Set For Tip Off
Big West Women's Basketball Weekly Release No. 1
The race to the Madness begins this weekend for Big West women's hoops, highlighted by UC Davis' home matchup against top-ranked, two-time defending national champion Connecticut.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
For Openers: Cal Poly returns just two starters but has nine letterwinners returning from an 18-13 club. The Mustangs open the season with a pair of road games before a four-game homestand which will take them through Thanksgiving.
The Graduate: Ariana Elegado earned her degree last spring and is the lone graduate in the Mustang program. Elegado’s return gives Cal Poly a first team All-Big West selection that averaged 17.0 points and 4.5 assists a year ago.
Wild (Young) Horses: Cal Poly will feature a lot of youth this season as 11 players are either freshman or sophomores. The roster also features just three seniors, two of which started at least 22 games last season (Elegado, Taryn Garza).
The Numbers Game...3: The Mustangs have been to the Big West Tournament championship game in three consecutive seasons.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
For Openers: Year two of the Daron Park regime starts this weekend in Titan Gym as Cal State Fullerton takes on Montana State Sunday. CSF is coming off a season where it went 12-18 overall, but put up an 8-8 mark in conference play.
All Chante, All The Time: Senior Chante Miles is the headliner for the Titans this season. The diminutive guard was named honorable mention All-Big West after averaging 13.9 points, 3.8 assists, 1.6 steals and 36.1 minutes per game. Miles played the full 40 minutes on six occasions last season and played 45 minutes in another contest.
Tough Road Ahead: Before Cal State Fullerton gets to Big West play, it must navigate a non-conference slate that features eight clubs that made either the NCAA Tournament or WNIT last season.
The Numbers Game...54: Sophomore Samantha Logan nailed 54 three-pointers last season, tops on the team an tied for sixth in the Big West.
For Openers: CSUN is the media favorite to end this season as they did last year, as the Big West champions. The Matadors boast five starters, all seniors, and nine letterwinners overall returning from a group that won 18 games, took home the Big West regular season and Tournament crowns for the first time and swept conference rival UC Santa Barbara for the first time in program history.
Mount Mahlknecht: Senior Camille Mahlknecht is the league’s top interior defender, blocking a Big West best 105 shots last season, a school record. Her 3.12 blocks per game was 11th in the NCAA, while the 105 rejections was tied for 10th on the single season conference list.
Show Us The Guay: Reigning Big West Player of the Year Ashlee Guay is back for one more go-round in a CSUN uniform. Last year Guay averaged 16.0 points, 4.0 assists and shot 42.6% from deep. She is the first conference Player of the Year in program history and owns the career marks for assists (386) and steals (237) going into her senior campaign.
The Numbers Game...96: Guay has started all 96 Matador games during her career.
LONG BEACH STATE
For Openers: Long Beach State enters the 2014-15 season looking to improve its win total for the fifth consecutive season under Jody Wynn. The Beach has a tough non-conference slate featuring home dates against USC, California and LSU and road contests against San Diego State and Colorado.
Deep By Talent (And Necessity): The 49ers were besieged by injury last season but showed impressive depth. Only two players averaged double figures but nine were on the court for at least 17.9 minutes per game.
Hey Remember Us?: Three key players return to the court for LBSU this season after missing ‘13-14 due to injury. The redshirt junior trio of Bianka Balthazar (9.0 pts, 3.4 reb in ‘12-13), Chantal Dooley (5.8 pts, 3.5 reb in ‘12-13) and Devin Hudson (9.8 pts, 8.8 reb, 1.0 blk in ‘12-13) will be key to the 49er push.
The Numbers Game...2,611: The freshmen contingent for Long Beach State played 2,611 minutes last season, led by Anna Kim (734) and Raven Benton (688).
For Openers: UC Davis boasts a deep and experienced club, returning five starters and 10 letterwinners from a group that won 15 games a year ago and advanced to the Big West quarterfinals.
Hiding From No One: The Aggies open up their season at home Friday against a team some have heard about...top ranked and two-time defending national champion Connecticut. The Huskies aren’t the only high profile game on UCD’s schedule as the the club also takes on Saint Mary’s Stanford and Arizona State.
The Fipps Have It: Senior Sydney Fipps is a two-time first team All-Big West selection and one of the top shooters in the league. Fipps averaged 17.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and hit 54 threes a year ago. She was also clutch at the line hitting on 81.0% of her free throw attempts.
The Numbers Game...86: Senior Kelsey Harris nailed 86 three-pointers a year ago, an Aggie single season record and tied for sixth in a single campaign in Big West history.
For Openers: Year three of the Doug Oliver regime starts with plenty of new faces as the clube returns just one starter and six letterwinners from last season’s club. The 2013-14 Anteaters won 17 games and advanced to the Big West semifinals for the first time since 2003.
Do-It-All Methlyn: The lone returning starter for UCI is versatile forward Methlyn Onogomuho. She averaged 7.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.4 steals in 27.5 minutes last season. Onogomuho had five games of double digit rebounds, 15 games of two or more steals and seven games of double figure scoring.
Take Care Of It: UCI places a premium on protecting the ball as the club was tops in the Big West last year with a +3.41 assist-to-turnover ratio. The team also committed the third-fewest turnovers per game (13.7).
The Numbers Game...80%: UC Irvine lost 1,866 of the 2,321 points scored last season, or 80%. Of the 455 returning points, 396 were scored by Onogomuho and fellow senior Madison McKenney.
For Openers: After starting out on the road last season, UC Riverside gets three games in front of its home fans to kick off the 2014-15 season against Santa Clara, San Jose State and San Francisco. This year’s edition of the Highlanders features three starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s club.
1-2 Punch: UCR has the last two Big West Freshman of the Year recipients in junior Brittany Crain and sophomore Simone DeCoud. Crain led the league in scoring last year at 19.2 points per game on 46.5% shooting from the field and 40.4% from deep while also chipping in 6.0 rebounds per outing. DeCoud averaged 11.9 points 3.9 assists, 1.7 steals and 3.6 rebounds in her standout debut season.
Ito Makes Three: Junior Annelise Ito made a solid impression in her first year at UCR, averaging 10.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and shooting 82.9% from the foul line. She was also second on the team in minutes played per game at 31.3.
The Numbers Game...25: Crain scored in double figures in 25 of her 27 games last season.
UC SANTA BARBARA
For Openers: UC Santa Barbara opens up its 2014-15 season on the road with contest at Nevada but then returns Monday to the Thunderdome for a matchup against Idaho. The Gauchos are coming off a tough eight-win campaign, but return two starters and seven letterwinners are they look to return to the Big West summit.
Oh Claire: Senior Clair Watkins will look to improve on her solid numbers during her first season as a Gaucho. Watkins averaged 6.0 points and a team-best 5.9 rebounds while also picking up 16 blocks in just 20 games.
Newbies: UCSB will count on its youngsters to make an impact as the club has four true freshman and one transfer on its 12-player roster.
The Numbers Game...33.7: UC Santa Barbara only took 323 three-pointers last season, but were second in the league in accuracy at 33.7%.
For Openers: Hawai‘i will be on the mainland this weekend to kick off the 2014-15 campaign, taking on Colorado State and Denver. UH will then return home for a season-long seven game homestand which features games against California, Stanford and North Carolina.
Year 6: The Rainbow Wahine got some good news over the summer as guard/forward Shawna-Lei Kuehu received a sixth year of eiligibility. Last season she was a second team All-Big selection, averaging 10.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 31 games.
Good Luck On The Boards: UH has one of the taller lineups in the Big West with six players standing 6-1 or taller. A year ago the Rainbow Wahine led the Big West in rebound margin at +5.8.
The Numbers Game...3: Hawai’i has been the third seed in the Big West Tournament in each of its first two seasons back in the league.