Pac-12 women’s basketball coaches aren’t expecting a resurgence by Colorado this season.
After finishing last a year ago, the Buffaloes were picked to finish last this year in a vote by conference coaches.
The preseason poll was released Monday, as the Buffs and other teams went through media day in San Francisco. Two-time defending champion Oregon was picked as the preseason favorite for the third year in a row.
“I think it’s exciting,” CU senior Quinessa Caylao-Do said of the preseason poll. “I think it’s really motivating for the team, especially for the younger players and the culture that we have created. I think it will upset a lot of people, and we’re looking forward to being good this season.”
Caylao-Do, junior Mya Hollingshed and head coach JR Payne represented the Buffs at media day.
CU finished 12-18 a year ago, including 2-16 in the Pac-12. It was an injury-plagued year for the Buffs, who this year must replace all-time assists leader Kennedy Leonard and sharp-shooter Alexis Robinson. Both missed several games in conference play.
“I’m the type of person that is always looking for the blessing in the storm, so while we wanted Kennedy to be healthy and would have been a more experienced ball club with her in the lineup last year, the blessing is that we had an incredible opportunity for a lot of young players to step up and play key contributing minutes that simply just wouldn’t have been available without that injury,” Payne said. “But there were times throughout last season due to several injuries that actually these two on stage (Caylao-Do and Hollingshed) really carried us offensively, defensively, from a leadership standpoint. And so the great thing is that we actually do have a lot of experience even through the struggle of injuries last season.”
Despite the struggle of last year and preseason prediction of coaches, Payne and her players expressed excitement for the upcoming season.
“We’re really focused on just making each other better every day, so we’re really not focused on what everybody else is talking about,” Hollingshed said. “So we’re really just getting in the gym every day and just working hard to be a better ball club every day.”
The Buffs have five new players on the team and tip off the season Nov. 10 at NJIT at CU Events Center.
“We have an incredible group,” Payne said. “That’s why I said I’m excited about who we are. We’re a group that is very — like Mya kind of said — dedicated to each other right now. So we’re at a place where we have great accountability within our team. People are pushing each other really to be the very best that they can be. We’re challenging each other, and we’ve just got tremendous energy. And sometimes youth is not a bad thing. Sometimes youth sort of gives you that youthful energy to keep going and really try to get better every day.”
Oregon earned the maximum number of first-place votes (11) and collected 121 points. Defending Pac-12 Tournament champion Stanford received the last-remaining first-place vote and was picked to finish second with 111 points.
Coming off the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Women’s Final Four, Oregon returns Wade Trophy and Wooden Award winner Sabrina Ionescu to lead a squad that returns four starters.
The complete poll (first place votes):
1. Oregon (11) — 121 points
2. Stanford (1) — 111
3. Oregon State — 99
4. UCLA — 93
5. Arizona State — 77
6. Arizona — 73
7. Utah — 58
8. USC — 47
9. Washington — 35
10. Washington State — 34
11. California — 28
12. Colorado — 16