EDMONTON – After completing a perfect 20-0 Canada West conference season one year ago, the Regina Cougars outdistanced the competition again in the 2012-13 preseason conference coaches’ poll.
Regina received 13 of 16 first-place votes, while Fraser Valley had two and the UBC Thunderbirds one.
Here are the complete voting results, based on a 18-16-14-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 system (first-place votes in parentheses):
1. Regina (13) 266
2. Fraser Valley (2) 231
3. UBC (1) 199
4. Alberta 178
5. Saskatchewan 177
6. Victoria 157
7. Thompson Rivers 135
8. Calgary 133
9. Winnipeg 116
10. Trinity Western 98
11. UBC Okanagan 86
12. UNBC 69
13. Lethbridge 65
14. Mount Royal 63
15. Manitoba 36
16. Brandon 22
The Regina Cougars were perfect during the 2011-12 Canada West regular season, but were unable to win either a conference of national championship. The goal remains the same – a CIS title – with Lindsay Ledingham, Brittany Read and Michelle Clark among a list of star talent on this year’s roster.
Nicole Wierks and Aieisha Luyken lead the way for a Fraser Valley Cascades team that just fell short of a berth at Nationals last season and returns much of the roster. As good as this year’s team seems, and with no fifth-year players, all will be eligible to return again in 2013-14.
With a Canada West championship and CIS silver medal in the rear view mirror, the UBC Thunderbirds really have just one goal… to move up one spot at the CIS tournament. Led by evolving star, third-year Kris Young, along with fifth-years Erika Vieweg and Leigh Stansfield, the T-Birds are expected to challenge once again.
Finishing just one point apart in the preseason poll, the Alberta Pandas and Saskatchewan Huskies both expect good results for the season ahead. The Pandas are the more veteran group, with veterans Katie Arbuthnot and Anekka Bakker, while 20111-12 Canada West Rookie of the Year Dalyce Emmerson and third-year Kabree Howard are team leaders for the Huskies.
Returning to the Victoria Vikes are led by guard Debbie Yeboah, forward Jessica Renfrew and most of the team that was 8-10 last season. With an added year of experience, the Vikes become a top contender in the Pacific Division.
The Thompson Rivers WolfPack were 9-9 last year and see the return of team leader Diane Schuetze, along with Tracy Kocs and Jen Ju. With a solid group of veteran leadership, the Pack look ready to break out this season.
The Calgary Dinos qualified for the 2012 playoffs before falling in two straight games during a short second season. Alex Cole leads a roster full of talent and young promise as the Dinos look for not only a good 2012-13, but more winning years ahead.
Despite similar records last season the Winnipeg Wesmen snuck into the post-season, while the Trinity Western Spartans were on the outside looking in. The Wesmen see the continued development of 2010-11 Canada West Rookie of the Year Stephanie Kleysen into a leadership role, with the Spartans turning to Portland State transfer Sarah Cleveland and vetern Emily Knauff.
The UBC Okanagan Heat, placing 11th in the coaches’ poll, try to improve from a tough 2-16 inaugural Canada West season, and the conference welcomes the UNBC Timberwolves (12th) and Mount Royal Cougars (14th) for the upcoming year. They, along with the Lethbridge Pronghorns (13th) will need to withstand some tough conference competition and stay healthy as a team.
The Manitoba Bisons were 15th in the preseason conference poll after winning three of 20 games in 2011-12. The Brandon Bobcats struggled to an 0-20 mark and look to start a new, winning tradition.
A complete Canada West women’s basketball preview was released earlier this week.