The Colorado State women’s basketball team will be the favorite to win the Mountain West until the Rams give us a reason to think otherwise.
The back-to-back conference champs were selected to finish first in the MW preseason poll after winning 23 games and going 15-3 in conference last season. The Rams are led in the quest for a three-peat by head coach Ryun Williams, the 2014 MW Coach of the Year.
“We don’t put a lot of stock into those preseason rankings,” Williams said in a press release from CSU Athletics. “This is an entirely different team with an entirely different identity; we are going to have to prove ourselves, so that’s our mentality.”
The Rams return three starters and seven letter-winners from last year’s squad, which won the MW regular season title but was upset in the first round of the conference tournament by San Jose State. CSU received 12 first-place votes and 237 points in the poll. It was followed by New Mexico with seven first-place votes and 221 points, and Boise State with six first-place votes and 215 points.
“The league is going to be good,” Williams said in the release. “It’s been getting better ever since we showed up here, so we know it’s going to be a tremendous battle every single night. The fact that we do have some experience back is always helpful in league play. We have some good leadership, and that will help when you have to win tough games on the road. We are still figuring out a lot of things about this team, but hopefully by the time the end of the year rolls around, we will be pretty good.”
The two previous times that the Rams were picked to win the conference in 2001-02 and 2013-14, they lived up to expectations by delivering MW League titles. If CSU can take the conference again, it would become the first school in the MW’s 16-year history to win three straight league championships.
CSU hosts an exhibition game Friday, Nov. 6 against South Carolina-Aiken. The Rams officially open their season Friday, Nov. 13 at Moby Arena against Western State.
Nystrom makes preseason All-MW team
The conference also released its Preseason All-MW team and individual award winners, and CSU’s Ellen Nystrom made the list.
The junior guard from Sweden was one of five players named to the preseason all-MW team along with Boise State guard Brooke Pahukoa, New Mexico forward Khadijah Shumpert, Utah State guard Funda Nakkasoglu and Wyoming guard Marquelle Dent.
Nystrom is a two-time all-conference selection, and is also a two-time MW all-defense honoree. In 2014-15, she averaged 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
“That is an awesome honor, but it’s not really something I focus on,” Nystrom said of her preseason recognition. “I just want to make sure I do everything I can to help the team reach our goals.”
Dent was named Preseason Player of the Year. Nevada guard Stephanie Schmid and San José State guard Dezz Ramos were selected as Preseason Co-Newcomers of the Year. New Mexico guard Jannon Otto was named the Preseason Freshman of the Year.
2015-16 Mountain West Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll
Rank – Team – Points (1st-Place Votes)
1 – Colorado State – 237 (12)
2 – New Mexico – 221 (7)
3 – Boise State – 215 (6)
4 – Fresno State – 182
5 – UNLV – 138
6 – San Diego State – 135
7 – Wyoming – 125
8 – San José State – 93
9 – Utah State – 79
10 – Nevada – 78
11 – Air Force – 26
Preseason All-Mountain West
Brooke Pahukoa, Jr., G, Boise State
Ellen Nystrom, Jr., G, Colorado State
Khadijah Shumpert, Sr., F, New Mexico
Funda Nakkasoglu, So., G, Utah State
Marquelle Dent, Sr., G, Wyoming
Preseason Player of the Year
Marquelle Dent, Sr., G, Wyoming
Preseason Freshman of the Year
Jannon Otto, Fr., G, New Mexico
Preseason Co-Newcomers of the Year
Stephanie Schmid, Jr., G, Nevada
Dezz Ramos, Jr., G, San José State
Collegian Sports Editor Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at email@example.com and on Twitter @emccarthy22.