IRVING, Texas (Oct. 12, 2022) – The University of South Florida women’s basketball team has been picked to finish atop the American Athletic Conference (AAC) this season in a poll of league coaches announced by the conference on Wednesday. It marks the third time in program history – and the third-straight year – that the Bulls have been selected first in a preseason conference poll.
In addition, Elena Tsineke (Thessaloniki, Greece) was tabbed The American Preseason Player of the Year and named First Team All-Conference, where she is joined by fellow First Team selection, Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu (Nkongsamba, Cameroon).
The Bulls earned the top spot with 99 total points and nine of 11 first-place votes. Houston (89) was picked to finish second and SMU (73) third, while Tulsa (66), Tulane (56) and Memphis (56) rounded out the top five spots in the preseason poll. Temple (43), Central Florida (38) and Cincinnati (34) were slotted seventh through ninth, respectively, with Wichita State (32) and East Carolina (19) rounding out the bottom two teams.
South Florida (9) and Houston (2) were the only two schools to earn first-place votes.
Last season, South Florida posted a 24-9 overall record and a 12-3 mark in the American Athletic Conference, capping off the season with its eighth NCAA Tournament appearance, and its seventh trip to the Big Dance in the last 10 years.
Included in their 24 wins were victories over No. 9 Oregon, 71-62, and a thrilling 57-54 win over defending national champion and No. 7-ranked Stanford.
Tsineke, the Bulls’ top returning scorer, continues to prove that she is one of the top guards in The American and one of the most dangerous shooting guards in the nation. Last season she was tabbed an American Athletic Conference First Team All-Conference selection after averaging 14.3 points per game, which was third in the conference, and shooting 38.7 percent (173-for-447) from the field and 83.7 percent (82-for-98) from the free-throw line, good for first in the league. Tsineke was also named to the AAC All-Tournament Team after averaging 17.0 points per game in the Bulls’ three contests.
The 5-foot-8 senior became the 26th player in program history to surpass the 1,000-point plateau, netting 18 points in the regular season finale against Houston on March 2, 2022, and finished the season with 1,076 points for her career, 19th on the school’s all-time scoring list. In addition, she scored in double figures in 27 games for the Green and Gold, including seven outings of 20-or-more points.
Fankam Mendjiadeu, a 6-foot-4 redshirt senior, was a Second Team All-Conference selection last season and was one of the top centers in The American during her first season in the Green and Gold. A transfer from American Athletic Conference foe Memphis, Fankam Mendjiadeu was third on the team in scoring, averaging 10.3 points per game, and second in rebounding, grabbing 7.1 boards per contest, and ranked ninth in The American in both categories. She shot 46.9 percent (135-for-28) from the field on the year and 66.4 percent (71-for-107) from the free-throw line while recording seven double-doubles.
Fankam Mendjiadeu netted double-figure points in 17 games and double-digit rebounds eight times. She was also second on the roster in blocked shots (26).
The Bulls open the 2022-23 campaign with four consecutive home games in 10 days, beginning with their season-opener against Morehead State on Monday, Nov. 7 at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN+). South Florida will also face Florida A&M on Friday, Nov. 11 (6 p.m., ESPN+), Jacksonville on Sunday, Nov. 13 (1 p.m. ESPN+) and Alabama on Wednesday, Nov. 16 (7 p.m., ESPN+) during the homestand.
All home games and conference games not televised nationally will be televised on ESPN+.