It appears the Cal State Bakersfield women's basketball team has something to prove to the coaches and media members of its new conference.
Despite returning 88 percent of its scoring and 86 percent of its rebounding from a season ago, a veteran CSUB team is projected to finish in the bottom half of the 11-team Big West. The 'Runners were picked to finish eighth in both the media and coaches preseason polls, which were released Tuesday afternoon.
Though coach Greg McCall, who picked his team to finish first in the coaches poll, believes his squad is being undervalued, he says he wasn't surprised to see such a low projection going into the first season in a new league.
“We’re new to the conference so it’s nothing that was new," he said of the preseason rankings. "It’s one of those things where you’ve got to go in and earn it. It’s not just going to be given to you.”
If they hope to prove they're better than their early rankings indicate, the Roadrunners will have an immediate opportunity to do so. CSUB opens the season on the road with back-to-back games against projected league champion UC Davis on Dec. 27 and 28.
"They're the team to beat," McCall said of the Aggies. "I knew that coming in. We get to be tested early and see where (we stand). It's going to be a great test."
Davis, which has been the league's regular season champion each of the past four seasons, earned six of 11 first place votes in the coaches poll and 13 of 20 in the media poll. UC Irvine was picked to finish second in each poll.
Despite the low ranking, McCall isn't the only person expecting big things from his team, as CSUB also earned one first-place vote in the media poll.
The Roadrunners were left off the preseason all-conference teams.
Sierra Campisano (Cal Poly), Taylor Turney (CSU Fullerton), Justina King (Long Beach State), Cierra Hall (UC Davis) and Danae Miller (UC Santa Barbara) were selected to both the media and coaches teams.
Abby Ellis of Cal Poly was selected to the media all-conference team while Keilani Cooper of UC Riverside was selected by league coaches