UNLV WOMEN’S BASKETBALL SELECTED FIFTH IN MW PRESEASON POLL
Lady Rebels will start the regular season on Nov. 8 when they host Santa Clara
The UNLV women’s basketball team was picked to finish fifth in the 2013-14 Mountain West preseason poll, which was released by the league office on Tuesday morning. Voting on the preseason poll, as well as the preseason all-conference team, were all 11 head coaches as well as select media members.
Though picked fifth, the Lady Rebels were one of four teams in the poll to receive first-place votes, with two. This year’s preseason favorite was also last season’s tournament champion, Fresno State, with 17 first-place votes and 238 total. Wyoming was second with 212 points and four first place votes, while San Diego State, last year’s regular-season champion, was ranked third with 196 points and the other two first-place votes. New Mexico was fourth with 185 points, and UNLV followed with 170.
Rounding out the poll was new league member Utah State in sixth (136), Colorado State seventh (130), Boise State eighth (96), new league member San José State ninth (76), Nevada, Reno 10th (62), while Air Force was 11th with 28 points.
The Lady Rebels are coming off a season in which they tied for fourth in the Mountain West at 8-8, and were 12-19 overall. Although the team lost Kelli Thompson, a first team All-MW selection that also led the league in scoring, UNLV brings back a total of six players that have been full-time starters in the program. That includes senior guard Mia Bell, an all-conference selection in 2011-12 who used a medical redshirt last season, as well as junior forward Alana Cesarz, who ranked top four in the MW in scoring and rebounding in 2012-13 before suffering an ACL injury in mid-January. Another key returnee is sophomore forward Réjane Vérin, the 2012-13 MW Newcomer of the Year, while one of the notable newcomers to the squad is sophomore transfer Aley Rohde, a 6-4 center who was a starter at Arizona as a freshman in 2011-12.
“With preseason polls, you never really know where you are going to be chosen,” said UNLV head coach Kathy Olivier. “We feel though that we have a pretty experienced team this year, we are strong both inside and outside, we have a lot of depth compared to last year, and we hope that is enough to challenge for a top-three finish. Having six players that have been full-time starters in our program is going to a big advantage for us as well, especially after last year when we entered the preseason with only one experienced starter.”
Wyoming junior forward Kayla Woodward was named the 2013-14 MW Preseason Player of the Year. She was joined on the preseason All-MW team by Colorado State senior forward Sam Martin, Fresno State senior guard Taylor Thompson, San Diego State junior forward Erimma Amarikwa and San José State junior guard Ta’Rea Cunnigan. San Diego State guard Chloe Johnson was selected as the Preseason Freshman of the Year, while Preseason Newcomer of the Year honors when to senior center Cierra Warren from San Diego State, a transfer from North Carolina and Louisville.
Some of the highlights of the 2013-14 home slate includes home games against former MW rivals BYU on Nov. 12 and Utah on Nov. 26. Both of those games are part of doubleheaders with the Runnin’ Rebels in the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV will also play twice more in the TMC in November. The season-opener and Rebel Reunion night against Santa Clara on Nov. 8 (also a doubleheader), as well as a Nov. 23 contest against Bakersfield. In December, UNLV hosts the Duel In The Desert, an eight-team tournament that will see the Lady Rebels take on Clemson (Dec. 19), Oregon State (Dec. 20) and Creighton (Dec. 21). The conference season starts for UNLV with a New Year’s Day home matchup with preseason favorite Fresno State.
UNLV season tickets are only $75 for 19 home games. For information on purchasing season tickets call 702-739-FANS or visit UNLVtickets.com. Youth 12 and under are free to all Lady Rebel games.
2013-14 MOUNTAIN WEST WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL
Rk. Team (1st-place votes) Points
1. Fresno State (17) 238
2. Wyoming (4) 212
3. San Diego State (2) 196
4. New Mexico 185
5. UNLV (2) 170
6. Utah State 136
7. Colorado State 130
8. Boise State 96
9. San José State 76
10. Nevada, Reno 62
11. Air Force 28