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UCI Women’s Basketball 2020-2021 Season Preview

ESPN hosted the “Big West Women’s Basketball Preview Show presented by GEICO” for the 2020-21 season on Nov. 18, showcasing basketball fans what to expect by discussing their predictions in what will happen within the league. Analysts talked about which teams and players to look out for while covering news updates surrounding the Big West conference with former NBA coach Dave Miller, ESPN analyst Sam Farber and Big West reporter Jill Painter Lopez. 

ESPN reported that the Big West has made notable structural additions. The conference brought in a new commissioner, Dan Butterly, along with two new teams ready to join the competition: University of California San Diego and California State University Bakersfield. Furthermore, California State University Northridge has opted out of the season. 

Based on performances last season, ESPN analysts and the media put together a preseason power ranking poll. The top two teams are the University of California Davis at No. 1 and the University of California Irvine at No. 2. Farber and Lopez concluded that Irvine is the consensus pick to beat Davis, the team that has stayed at the top of the conference for the last four seasons. Miller highlighted UCI’s Sophia Locandro, the sophomore 6’3 guard known for her ability to shoot three-pointers and play excellent defense, as an integral part of their success.

“[UCI] has 10 returning players and five of them are seniors. They also beat Davis in the regular season last year,” Lopez said. 

Both Farber and Lopez also agreed that Cal Poly Pomona — led by returning veterans Abbie Ellis and Sierra Campisano — can take the Big West as the dark horse. However, Miller disagreed and believes it could be California State University Fullerton due to their strong fundamentals led by head coach Jeff Harada.

Each panelist also predicted the 2020-21 Big West Player of the Year. A unanimous agreement fell on Pomona’s Sierra Campisano, a 6’3 forward, as her chemistry with Ellis and ability to score differentiates her from the rest of the players in the Big West. They expect Campisano to dominate a number of statistical categories, particularly in scoring, which makes it clear that she will most likely be Player of the Year.  

“To be player of the year you have to be on a team that wins and puts up big numbers. And when you have Ellis, she knows where Campisano likes to receive the basketball and the passing lanes to get her the ball. This is a great partnership,” Miller said. 

The preview capped off with general predictions for the season. Lopez is hopeful that a new glass ceiling will be broken —  the league’s first dunk. Miller believes that an explosive back-court will emerge and hopes that a “splash sisters” duo will emerge and drop 15 total threes in one game. Farber takes a safer bet that UCI head coach Tamara Inoue, entering her fifth year, will be over .500 for her win/loss ratio. 

Both basketball fans and players have been waiting for the winter sport to resume. With the Big West Women’s Basketball 2020-21 season on the horizon, that wait will soon come to an end. Tip-off for UCI’s Women’s Basketball team began on Nov. 28 against Cal Baptist University at the Bren Events Center.

Jaidee Maximo Villaflor is a Sports Intern for the 2020 Fall Quarter. He can be reached at jaideev@uci.edu.