USF women 22nd in AP preseason poll

USF women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez reacts to a play during the first half  of a Feb. 11 game vs. Ohio State Buckeyes. (Gabriella Angotti-Jones, Times)
USF women's basketball coach Jose Fernandez reacts to a play during the first half of a Feb. 11 game vs. Ohio State Buckeyes. (Gabriella Angotti-Jones, Times)
Published October 31 2018
Updated October 31 2018

The Bulls women's basketball team, which returns three starters from last season's 26-win squad, is No. 22 in the Associated Press women's preseason poll released Wednesday.

The Bulls and No. 2 Connecticut are the only American Athletic Conference teams ranked. Miami is 25th, while FSU was among those also receiving votes.

USF appeared on 22 of the 31 ballots cast, with nine putting the Bulls in the top 20. ESPN's Rebecca Lobo, a former Connecticut star and member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, ranked USF 10th.

The Bulls, seeking their fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth, return top scorer and long-range extraordinaire Kitija Laksa (21.1 ppg), defensive specialist Laura Ferreira (team-best 50 steals) and low-post veterans Alyssa Rader (6.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Tamara Henshaw (6.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg).

They lost double-double specialist Laura Jespersen (18.1 ppg, 9.7 rpg) down low, as well as three-year starting PG Laia Flores (6.4 assists), but their replacements may surface from the six-member freshman class: PG Elisa Pinzan of Italy and 6-foot-3 Portugal star Beatriz Jordao.

"That's what really good programs do. The thing continues and the show goes on," coach Jose Fernandez said. "Year after year, you do that by developing your kids within your program and by continuing to recruit high-level student-athletes."

The Bulls open their season Tuesday at Ohio State. They debut at home three nights later against Albany.

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