NORTHRIDGE, Calif. --- The Cal State Northridge women's basketball team was picked to finish seventh with 73 points in the 2011-12 Big West Preseason Media Poll, the league office announced Wednesday. Matador senior Jasmine Erving was also recognized, earning a spot on the 2011-12 Preseason All-Big West Team.
Coming off a 4-26 season and a 4-12 campaign last year, the Matadors have much higher expectations this season under second-year head coach Jason Flowers. The squad has welcomed in a class of eight newcomers, two of which are Division-I transfers, to go along with five returning student-athletes from a year ago.
"Preseason polls are always entertaining," Flowers said. "The reality is that the championship is won on the court and not on paper."
One of those returning players, Erving, figures to be a key fixture in the fate of the Matadors' season. The first Northridge player to be named the league's Preaseason Team since Ofa Tulikihihifo, Erving enters the year off a highly successful junior season where she averaged a career-high 14.9 points and 6.9 rebounds.
Erving also finished at 72 percent (85-of-118) from the free throw line, pulled down a career-high 205 rebounds and added 16 assists, 36 blocked shots and 17 steals during her junior season. In conference play, Erving averaged 17 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Finally, Erving became the ninth player in school history to amass 1,000 career points, hitting the milestone at home against the Titans. For her career, Erving has scored 1,074 points, good for eighth in school history and an average of 12.5 ppg.
Among the other returning players, Violet Alama had a breakout sophomore campaign that saw her average 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds. She also led the team at the charity stripe, shooting 79 percent (98-of-124) in 30 games.
Among the newcomers, Flowers and his staff hold all the incoming freshmen in high regards. On the interior, the team adds three prospects to give the team ample depth.
At Mater Dei High School, Jessica Duarte was a part of a national championship team and brings in good size and toughness to the interior. Camille Mahlknecht is a rangy 6-3 post with the versatility to play with her back to the basket or by facing up on the perimeter. Finally, Kourtney Ainsworth earned All-CIF honors for her play in high school and has already turned heads with her hustle in individual workouts.
The team added three perimeter-oriented rookies to the squad to give the backcourt a new look. Ashlee Guay, a point guard from San Diego, has already made waves with her tenacity in individual workouts and possesses great speed. Randi Friess is a long 6-0 guard who has tremendous versatility and athleticism that is just beginning to take shape. Finally, Janae Sharpe is an All-CIF standout from Rialto High School who has already impressed with her defense.
The two transfers arrive at Northridge after experiencing tremendous success at their previous schools. Kaitlyn Petersen spent a year with Gonzaga, helping the Bulldogs advance to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16. Jianni Jackson is a 6-2 forward who played for Hampton University, helping the Pirates advance to the NCAA Tournament, and also spent a year at Mt. San Antonio College as the Mounties won a conference title.
Flowers and his staff will get their first look at the team in competition in an exhbition contest against The Master's College on Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. in The Matadome.
Big West Preseason Media Poll
1. Cal Poly (11) 200
2. UC Santa Barbara (11) 191
3. UC Davis (2) 169
4. UC Riverside 120
5. Cal State Fullerton 107
6. UC Irvine 91
7. Cal State Northridge 73
8. Pacific 66
9. Long Beach State 63
( ) - First Place Votes
Preseason All-Conference Team
Jasmine Erving, CSUN, SR
Kristina Santiago, CP, SR
Megan Richardson, CSUF, SR
Tre'Shonti Nottingham, UCR, JR
Emilie Johnson, UCSB, SR
Abby Bloetscher, CP, SR