Oct. 6, 2011
Irving, Texas - Rice's Jessica Kuster has been named to the Conference USA Women's Basketball Pre-Season Team and the Rice Owls have been picked to finish second in the league as voted on by the C-USA head women's basketball coaches.
"It's a credit to the success our team had last year and the fact that we do have four returning starters," stated Owl head coach Greg Williams. "Conference USA had some outstanding teams last year that had a lot of seniors. It is a challenge to our basketball team.
"My first year at Rice we were picked first to win the conference and the team didn't handle it very well initially. We've thrown the gauntlet down already and have let this year's team know where they've been picked. We accept the challenge and hopefully we can move up one spot."
Rice garnered three first-place votes, while No. 3 UCF and No. 4 Tulane also received a first-place vote. The three programs participated in postseason action a year ago. The Owls and Green Wave were selected to the WNIT and the Knights earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship after winning the league tournament for the second time in three years. UTEP tied the Green Wave for fourth in the preseason standings and finished the 2011 season at 16-14.
Kuster, the only non-senior on the pre-season team, had a dazzling freshman season for the Owls a year ago. She became just the third freshman in league history to capture All-C-USA first-team honors a year ago and was an easy pick for Freshman of the Year. The 6-2 San Antonio, Texas, native was the only player to average a double-double in league play, accounting for 15.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game.
Both men's and women's head coaches will convene in Irving, Texas, on October 11 for the annual C-USA Basketball Media Day. The Elma Roane Fieldhouse and the FedExForum will serve as the site of the 2012 C-USA Basketball Championship March 7-10 in Memphis, Tenn.
The Owls open the season November 11 at Prairie View A&M and have their home opener on November 16 vs. Houston Baptist.
2011-12 C-USA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON POLL
1. Memphis (7)
2. Rice (3)
3. UCF (1)
t4. Tulane (1)
9. Southern Miss
10. East Carolina
(#) denotes first-place votes
2011-12 C-USA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON TEAM
Porsche Landry-Houston/5-5/Sr./G/Houston, Texas/Madison HS
Brittany Carter-Memphis /5-9/Sr./G/Covington, Ga./Newton Country HS/Georgia
Jasmine Lee-Memphis/6-2/RS Sr./P/Bessemer, Ala./Jess Lanier HS/Georgia
Jessica Kuster-Rice/6-2/So./F/San Antonio, Texas/Reagan HS
Christine Elliott-SMU/6-2/Sr./P/Wichita, Kan./South HS
Rachel Vigers-Southern Miss/5-9/Sr./F/Baton Rouge, La./Copiah-Lincoln CC
Aisha Patrick-UCF/5-9/Sr./G/Rockledge, Fla./Rockledge HS
Gloria Brown-UTEP/6-2/Sr./F/Philadelphia, Pa./Trinity Valley CC
2011-12 C-USA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Brittany Carter Memphis