Nov. 1, 2017
BOISE, Idaho - Boise State women's basketball, the defending Mountain West Tournament Champion and a NCAA Tournament participant in two of the past three seasons (2015, 2017), was tabbed the favorite to capture the Mountain West regular-season title in 2017-18 Wednesday, while senior forward Shalen Shaw was voted to the five-woman Preseason All-Mountain West Team.
Wednesday's announcement marks the first time that Boise State has topped the Mountain West preseason poll, and the first time the Broncos have topped a preseason conference poll since doing so consecutively ahead of the 2007-08 and 2008-09 WAC campaigns.
The Broncos, with head coach Gordy Presnell entering his 13th season at the helm, came out the favorite in a close poll of the 11 conference head coaches and select regional media members covering each program, receiving seven of 25 first-place votes and 221 points. Wyoming and Colorado State each received six first-place votes, with the Cowgirls (216 points) edging out the Rams (211) for second. New Mexico earned four first-place votes and 186 points, with UNLV taking the remaining two first-place votes and coming out with 185 points to round out the top five.
The inclusion of Shaw, a Reno, Nev., native, on the Preseason All-Mountain West Team marks the fourth-straight season in which a Bronco has been voted onto the five-woman team. Brooke Pahukoa was a member ahead of the past two seasons, while Deanna Weaver was voted to the 2014-15 edition. Boise State is the only Mountain West program to be represented on each of the past four preseason all-conference teams.
During a 2016-17 season in which Boise State set a program record with 25 wins while winning the Mountain West Tournament title and reaching the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons, Shaw led the Broncos in rebounding (7.1 rpg) and field-goal percentage (44.3), and entering the 2017-18 campaign is the Broncos' top returner in scoring (10.1 ppg) and assists (67). She also ranks second among Bronco returners in 3-pointers made (47) and steals (38).
Shaw has the opportunity to finish her career as one of the most decorated Broncos in program history. If Boise State makes the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight season, Shaw would become the first Bronco in program history to play in three NCAA Tournaments. Statistically speaking, Shaw is just 108 point away from 1,000 for her career, and is also on pace to close her career as the only Bronco in the program's career top 10 in scoring (needing 369 points to crack the top 10), rebounding (ranks seventh entering 2017-18), and assists (needs 58 to crack the top 10).
As a team, the Broncos return four of their top-five scorers from a season ago: Shaw (10.1 ppg), redshirt junior center Marijke Vanderschaaf (10.1 ppg), junior guard and Spanish international Marta Hermida (8.5 ppg), and sophomore guard Riley Lupfer (8.1 ppg). Vanderschaaf was also the team's second-leading rebounder, behind Shaw, with 6.5 rebounds per game, while Hermida had a team-leading 48 steals and was third with 60 assists, and Lupfer paced the team with 56 3-pointers and a 3-point field-goal percentage of 35.9.
This past July, Hermida earned her first FIBA gold medal as part of Spain's U20 National Team, which won the FIBA U20 Women's European Championship in Matosinhos, Portugal. At the tournament, Hermida appeared in three games, going 1-for-5 from the floor with two rebounds and three steals as Spain captured its third-straight U20 European title, and sixth out of the last seven events.
Boise State will also benefit from the addition of a pair of transfers coming off of their NCAA-mandated "sit-out" season in redshirt sophomore guard Ellie Woerner (Portland) and redshirt sophomore forward A'Shanti Coleman (Arizona). Woerner, in her lone season at Portland in 2015-16, started 28 of the 29 games in which she appeared while leading the Pilots and ranking 13th in the WCC with 11.8 points per game. The Sammamish, Wash., native also ranked in the WCC top 10 in 3-pointers made (44, ninth) and 3-point field-goal percentage (38.9, seventh). Coleman started 11 of the 32 games in which she appeared for Arizona in 2015-16, averaging 2.2 points and 1.6 rebounds per game.
Boise State hosts Carroll College in an exhibition contest this Sunday (Nov. 5) at 2 p.m. at Taco Bell Arena, and opens the 2017-18 regular season with a home matchup against Northwest Christian next Friday (Nov. 10) at 5:30 p.m.
2017-18 Mountain West Women's Basketball Predicted Order Of Finish (First-place votes in parentheses)
1. Boise State (7) - 221 points
2. Wyoming (6) - 216
3. Colorado State (6) - 211
4. New Mexico (4) - 186
5. UNLV (2) - 185
6. Utah State - 136
7. Fresno State - 117
8. San Diego State - 102
9. San Jose State - 61
10. Nevada - 60
11. Air Force - 29
2017-18 Preseason All-Mountain West Team
Shalen Shaw (Boise State), F, Sr.
Candice White (Fresno State), G, Jr.
Cherise Beynon (New Mexico), G, Sr.
McKynzie Fort (San Diego State), G, Sr.
Liv Roberts (Wyoming), G, Sr.
2017-18 Preseason Player of the Year
Cherise Beynon (New Mexico), G, Sr.
2017-18 Preseason Freshman of the Year
N'Dea Flye (New Mexico), PG
2017-18 Preseason Newcomer of the Year
Tesha Buck (New Mexico), G, R-Sr.