Loaded Bulls unanimously picked to finish first in AAC by preseason coaches poll

USF women’s basketball topped the AAC preseason coaches poll, receiving all 10 possible first-place votes. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO.

Following a record-setting season that captured the first regular-season and conference tournament titles in program history, the USF women’s basketball team was selected to finish first in the AAC’s preseason coaches poll.

It’s the second-consecutive season the Bulls were voted to the top spot. Five Bulls were also selected to All-Conference teams, including multiple players that finished last year as  All-Conference selections.

USF earned 100 total points and 10 of 11 first-place votes with the only missing vote coming from coach Jose Fernandez, who’s not allowed to vote for his own team. 

Picked to finish right behind the Bulls was UCF with 91 points, the only other team to receive a first-place vote. The Knights were the regular-season and conference tournament runner-ups last season. Rounding out the top five were Houston (77 votes), Tulane (72) and Temple (69).

“I think from top to bottom this is the best this conference has ever been,” Fernandez said during AAC media day Wednesday.

Sophomore guard Elena Tsineke, senior forward Bethy Mununga and Memphis transfer Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu were all preseason first-team selections. Tsineke and Mununga both made the first-team for the 2021 season while Mendjiadeu was a second-team selection following a standout season with the Tigers.

Tsineke led USF in scoring last season averaging 13.6 points per game on 38% shooting from the field. Mununga led the team and conference in rebounding at 12.9 per game. Mendjiadeu finished right behind her new teammate with 10.6 rebounds per contest as well as finishing second in blocked shots with 1.6 per game.

Making the second-team is a pair of junior guards Sydni Harvey and Elisa Pinzan. Pinzan led the conference in assists per game at 6.5 while Harvey was second on the team in scoring and was huge for the Bulls down the stretch, winning MVP at the conference tournament.

Not to be forgotten is sophomore guard Maria Alvarez who finished as last season’s AAC Co-Sixth Player of the Year along with UCF guard Alisha Lewis.

With all the talent on this season’s roster, Fernandez is excited to see how this team will work together.

“We’ve got a lot of talented players, this is a veteran group,” Fernandez said. “Today [we] practiced 12 and I don’t know how I’m going to keep these guys going for another 18 practices before our first games because we can play right now.”