WAC women’s basketball preseason power rankings

College basketball is back! Because there are games this week, now is the best time to look at all the teams in the Western Athletic Conference and see where everyone stands.

11. Seattle University
The last time Seattle University women’s basketball had a winning record was in the 2017-18 season in which they went 18-15. Since then, they have gone 44-100. On the bright side, they have a brand-new head coach. Skyler Young is set to make his debut with the Redhawks on Nov. 9. Even with all the excitement behind the new hire and the return of senior guard Peyton Howard, there may be some growing pains with all the new change. 

— Projected record: 9-20

10. Utah Valley University
Dan Nielson is entering his fourth season as head coach of the Wolverines. After a disappointing season last year going 6-24, Utah Valley University will look to bounce back. In order to do that, they will need to be more efficient on the offensive side of the ball. Last year, UVU averaged 55.1 points per game and only shot 38% from the field, including 26.7% from behind the arc. If they want another winning record, those numbers have to improve.

— Projected record: 10-19

9. Tarleton State University
What made last year so disappointing? There were a lot of reasons, but one thing to mention was the struggle to rebound. Tarleton State University had a -6.5 margin in rebounding. However, this year they have an almost entirely new team. With only three returning players, including leading scorer Teresa Da Silva, the Texans will welcome 12 incoming players. If this team can rebound and limit the second chance opportunities, they could be in the middle of the pack. If they have similar issues to last year, they are expected to be near the bottom of the standings.

— Projected record: 11-18

8. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
If the Vaqueros want any chance of making a run in the WAC, it will be behind the play of junior guard Iyana Dorsey. She averaged 16 points per game last year and was named Second Team All-WAC. Unfortunately, they can’t rely on just Dorsey. In order to have a shot at the title, someone else will need to step up and be that number-two option in scoring. Junior forward Deborah Ogayemi might be the right person to fill that role. If Ogayemi isn’t there and it’s all on the shoulders of Dorsey, they could see a repeat of last year. 

— Projected Record: 12-17

7. University of Texas Arlington
After six straight years of finishing above .500, the Mavericks had a down year, going 14-17 and losing to Seattle U in the conference tournament. On the bright side, Avery Brittingham, a transfer from Stephen F. Austin, joins the team with the hope of making an instant impact. The senior guard from Fort Worth, Texas, averaged 10.5 points per game last year. If she can continue to grow and have a key role, they could get back to their winning ways. If she struggles to find her place, they may end up with a similar record to last year. 

— Projected record: 14-16

6. Abilene Christian University
Abilene Christian University finished right in the middle of the WAC last year, going 15-15 and losing to Sam Houston in the WAC Tournament. For most teams, that would be a productive year. For the Wildcats, it was a disappointment, especially since this program hasn’t had a losing record since the 2011-12 season. If redshirt sophomore Addison Martin can continue to progress and improve, they should continue the streak of winning seasons.

— Projected record: 15-14

5. Stephen F. Austin State University
After being one of the most dominant teams in the WAC last year, it was a let down when they lost to California Baptist University, ending their season and cutting them short of the NCAA Tournament. One reason why they are lower in the first power rankings is the loss of Avery Brittingham and WAC Freshman of the Year Jordan Harrison. If they can find a way to make up the production of these two, then they can compete once again. 

— Projected record: 17-14

4. Utah Tech University
Fans should keep their eyes out for No. 20 Breaunna Gillen. The fifth-year player averaged a conference-high 17.8 points per game last year and looked even better in her first game this year, scoring 21 points. If she can continue to be arguably the best player in the WAC, then Utah Tech will always be in the conversation. One concern for this team, though, should be the team’s ability to rebound. They had a -3.5 margin last year, and if that continues, that could hold them back.

— Projected record: 18-13

3. California Baptist University
After being just a game away from heading to the NCAA Tournament, the Lancers will look to redeem themselves. One of the biggest losses for this team was junior guard Trinity San Antonio, who transferred to Grand Canyon University. What’s good for California Baptist University is that they still have sophomore guard Grace Schmidt. If she can continue to shine and lead this team, opponents should watch out for the Lancers.

— Projected: 19-12

2. Southern Utah University
In their first year in the WAC, Southern Utah did not disappoint. Not only did they have the best conference record, they beat California Baptist in the WAC Championship and punched a ticket into the NCAA Tournament. Now, they will try to repeat the success they had a year ago. One thing holding them back is their turnover margin. SUU turned the ball over an average of 16.8 times per game while only forcing 11.3 turnovers. That is a -5.5 turnover margin. If they want to repeat, that number needs to drop.

— Projected record: 19-10

1. Grand Canyon University
Why is Southern Utah not at the top spot? One of the biggest reasons is the new addition of Trinity San Antonio. If she can be the same player she was for California Baptist University, then teams should watch out. She averaged 14 points per game while shooting 41.9% from the field. As of now, Grand Canyon has a straight shot to win the WAC.

— Projected record: 22-9  

Author: Jack Paul
Photographer: Anden Garfield
Editor: Anden Garfield