The Gonzaga women are getting plenty of preseason respect, but not too much.
The trend continued Wednesday morning, when the Associated Press preseason poll showed the Zags three spots out of the Top 25 while getting 32 votes.
Last week, GU didn’t get a mention in the ESPNw preseason poll, while Charlie Crème, the network’s women’s basketball prognosticator, had the Zags penciled in as a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
ESPN also came out with its preseason midmajor rankings last week. It put GU fourth, behind Drake, South Dakota and Rice. None of the four is ranked in AP.
“I like where we are right now,” GU coach Lisa Fortier said before a recent practice.
She was referring partly to how the team is shaping up, but might has well have been talking about preseason rankings.
The biggest is the AP media poll, which also serves as the official ranking during the season.
GU’s placing of 28th is among the best in school history. Only once before, in 2013-14, have the Zags begun the season in the Top 25.
That team – Kelly Graves’ 14th and final squad at GU – started the year at No. 25, then fell out of the rankings for half a dozen games before winning the West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles.
The Bulldogs finished 18th after falling to James Madison in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Last year’s team began the year unranked, then vaulted into the rankings in early December following an upset win over No. 7 Stanford.
GU stayed there the rest of the season, climbing as high as 12th by the end of the regular season. The Zags finished 18th while going 29-5.
Meanwhile, Graves has gone on to unprecedented success at Oregon, which is the preseason No.1 after returning most of its key players from last year’s Final Four squad.
“I think it validates our vision that we had going in here,” Graves told the Associated Press. “It validates the hard work from my staff that’s been with me the whole journey. On this stage we had a better opportunity to be in position we now are.”
Defending NCAA champion Baylor is second, and Stanford – which hosts the Zags on Nov. 17 – is third.
Maryland and UConn round out the top 5, while Pac-12 teams Oregon State (7), UCLA (11) and Arizona State (20) are also ranked.
No other GU opponent is ranked. The Zags held their own last week in a closed-door scrimmage with No. 11 UCLA.
Another potential measuring stick could come in the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida, in late November, where 20th-ranked Arizona State is in the opposite bracket from GU.
WCC rival BYU didn’t receive any votes despite returning three starters from a team that reached the second round of the NCAAs.
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