Heading into the 2012-13 season, both the coaches and media have picked the Eastern Washington University women’s basketball team to finish eighth in the newly expanded Big Sky Conference. In the preseason poll, released Oct. 17 by the league office, EWU garnered 40 points from the league’s head coaches and 65 from media members.
Eastern returns three starters and six other letterwinners from its 2011-12 squad, as well as three redshirts. But for the first time in three years, the Eagles will not welcome back an All-Big Sky player.
Following the 2011-12 season, Eastern graduated two-time unanimous first-team selection and 2012 Big Sky MVP Brianne Ryan, as well as second-team honoree Chene Cooper, who ranked in the top six in the nation in assists, and top 25 in steals.
Although not the most favorable prediction, Eastern is certainly familiar with a preseason ranking that has it out of the tournament field - and familiar with proving it wrong.
Prior to the 2009-10 season, the Eagles were selected seventh by both the coaches and media. That year, EWU went on to win the school’s first-ever Big Sky regular-season title with a 12-4 league record. Last season, the Eagles were picked seventh again, and ended up finishing third overall after a 10-6 run in conference play.
Defending Big Sky Champion Idaho State, who coincidentally was tabbed fifth in the 2011-12 preseason poll, is the favorite heading into 2012-13. Northern Colorado was picked second in both polls, followed by Montana.