UTEP Women's Basketball Picked Tied For Fourth In 2011-12 C-USA Preseason Poll
Oct. 6, 2011
EL PASO, TEXAS – The UTEP women’s basketball team was selected tied for fourth in the 2011-12 Conference USA Preseason Poll, as voted upon the league’s 12 head coaches. Additionally, senior forward Gloria Brown was tabbed to the all-conference preseason team, which was also revealed by the league office Thursday afternoon.
“At the end of the day you have to play the games,” UTEP head coach Keitha Adams said. “We have a lot of respect for our opponents. It will be a very competitive year, and we are excited about our journey. We will take it one day, one game and one opponent at a time.”
UTEP will look to continue an unprecedented string of success at the school in 2011-12. The Miners have posted a program-best five straight seasons with a winning percentage of .500 or better, four of which have been outright winning campaigns.
The Orange and Blue, who finished 16-14 last year, return three starters and eight letterwinners from that squad. Senior Briana Green, who suffered a season-ending injury after just 10 games in 2010, and senior transfer Whitney Houston, who went down with an injury in the 2010-11 preseason, are also set to be in the fold.
C-USA 2011 Newcomer and Sixth Player of the Year, Brown accounted for more than half the Miners’ blocks (65-of-117) while also pacing them in field-goal percentage (.549, 2nd C-USA), free-throws made (92) and attempted (115), points per game (12.1, 18th C-USA) and rebounding (7.2, 111th C-USA).
Buoying Brown in the post will be a pair of juniors (Anete Steinberga & Kristine Vitola) and a promising sophomore (Kayla Thornton). Steinberga, a two-year starter, is healthy and going through drills after having her season cut short due to injuries following 24 games played. Thornton, a native of El Paso, had a solid first year with her hometown squad. She was second on the team in rebounding (5.8 rpg-18th C-USA) while placing fourth in scoring (7.0 ppg). Vitola appeared in all 30 games, including eight starts, and was second on the squad with 24 blocks.
In looking at the backcourt returnees, 2011 All C-USA Freshman Team member, Kelli Willinghman, will look to build upon a quality first year. She was thrust into a starting role as result of injuries to Green and Houston, and delivered a team-high 128 assists while pitching in 9.0 ppg. Also back are seniors Baiba Eglite, Kim Smith and Erika Warren.
Six newcomers will also be in the mix for the Orange and Blue in 2011-12, with the most heralded of the group being 2011 Parade Magazine All-American Jenzel Nash. The Houston native was believed to be the first signee in program history to be so distinguished in the 35 years of the publication’s award. She poured in 37.7 points per game while starring for Worthing (Texas) High School on the way to pacing the nation in scoring for the high school girls' regular season in 2010-11.
Memphis was selected as the preseason favorite, with Tiger guard Brittany Carter being named the preseason player of the year.
2011-12 C-USA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL
(#) denotes first-place votes
2011-12 C-USA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON TEAM
2011-12 C-USA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL